He made that clear Wednesday morning when he called it a “great college offense” during an interview with Philadelphia-area reporters.
The Eagles, of course, are an option offense and use zone read looks as much as any team in the NFL. So it should come as no surprise that some players in the Birds’ locker room took exception with Arians’ claim.
“I think it’s a great any-level offense, personally,” said center Jason Kelce. “I think anybody who doesn’t think it can be successful at this level is obviously mistaken.”
So it’s not a fad? It’s here to stay in some form or fashion?
“It will at least be an element, especially in offenses that have quarterbacks who are dual-threats,” Kelce added. “And the reason it will remain is because it keeps defenses honest. It’s not designed to give the quarterback 28 carries a game. That’s not what it’s supposed to be. It’s just supposed to keep the defense honest. In all honesty, that quote by Bruce Arians sounds like something someone who’s very uneducated about the read offense would say.”
Arians’ primary contention was that the read-option puts the quarterback at risk for too many hits.
“The defensive coordinators in this league are too good. I think once they went and studied it … it’s still a great offense, a great college offense, when you put a great athlete back there,” Arians said. “But when you’re facing great athletes with the the speed that’s in the NFL and they’re chasing these guys, unless you’re superhuman, you’re gonna get hurt sooner or later. Or not hurt, but beat up and bruised up. You don’t want your quarterback feeling bruised up when he’s trying to throw and be accurate.”
Evan Mathis said before this season, he would have agreed with Arians. But once Kelly installed the new offense and explained how it worked, Mathis changed his mind.
“That was my first thought not knowing anything about it,” Mathis said. “But it’s all in the execution, and it really depends on how you’re doing it. If the quarterback pulls the ball and he’s running, and someone’s about to tackle him, he’s allowed to slide. That’s usually what the guys are taught to do. If he’s trying to break tackles and barrel over people, he’s gonna get hurt. But I think without doing it that much or knowing much about it, that would be a common thought.
Kelce pointed out that the quarterback is only supposed to run the ball when he can’t hand it off.
“Even if you are using a read offense and you’re using the quarterback to run the ball, it’s not one of those things that you’re gonna try and make him… he’s most likely not gonna get 25 carries a game,” Kelce said. “That’s not what it’s designed to do. It’s designed to keep defenses honest and do it enough so that the backside player can’t crash down or they have to leave somebody backside to respect that. It’s not something that’s supposed to be your M.O.”
Added Mathis: “It’s only a matter of time before anybody gets hurt. The injury rate in the NFL’s 100 percent. I would need to see a statistical analysis to see if there’s any truth to the fact that people who run the read option are more likely to get hurt.”
Chip Kelly was not available to reporters Tuesday, but will hold a press conference on Thanksgiving.