Chip And the Big-Play Concept

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The Eagles have the best big-strike offense in the NFL. They had eight plays of 20-plus yards Sunday, upping their league-leading total to 80 on the season. With three games remaining, they have a shot at surpassing the record of 96 established by the “Greatest Show On Turf ” Rams back in 2001.

Chip Kelly‘s offense has 19 touchdowns of 20-plus yards, which is also tops in the league. Three of those came in the fourth quarter against Detroit, as LeSean McCoy rattled off TD runs of 40 and 57 yards, and Chris Polk got loose for a 38-yarder.

The big play is part of this team’s identity. And it’s not all about getting the big play, it’s also about stopping it.

“I think over time we felt like we had some guys on the offensive side of the ball that could put some points on the board, so if we make offenses go out and earn it, not just one-play deals going down the field, then we’ve got a shot at winning, and that’s  kind of the whole concept we have: let’s create turnovers  on defense, let’s do a great job of ball security on offense, but let’s not allow the team to get back into it with the easy play,” said Kelly.

The Eagles’ defense only allowed one touchdown against Detroit — a two-yard run to Joique Bell following the Nick Foles‘ interception. They have limited their opponent to under 21 points in nine straight contests overall.

And while McCoy and company racked up 299 yards on the ground, the Lions were limited to 80 rushing yards on the day.

“When you go through it there wasn’t a standout but what our defensive line did was kind of the key to the game,” said Kelly. “Fletcher [Cox] was outstanding, Ced [Cedric Thornton] was outstanding, Bennie [Logan] was outstanding. Those guys did a great job with just base techniques and not getting pushed off the football, had their cleats in the ground, did everything that Coach Azz [Jerry Azzinaro] teaches, allowed Mychal Kendricks to run around.

“I thought we set the edges really well. I thought Connor [Barwin] and Trent[Cole]  and Brandon [Graham] did a really good job of setting the edges and kind of containing the backs to where there weren’t explosive plays in the run game from that standpoint.”

The secondary, for their part, limited Calvin Johnson to three catches for 49 yards (with some help from the slippery surface).

The Eagles’ offense had three touchdowns of 35-plus yards in the fourth quarter alone. The defense has yielded just three touchdowns of 35-plus yards on the entire season. That’s part of the winning formula.

Some other highlights from Kelly’s day-after press conference:

— Kelly said he won’t let the win blind him to the issues that cropped up in the game.

“I think that’s what happens sometimes when you have a big win, ‘Well we made a couple mistakes but don’t worry about it, we won the game.’ We’ve never been that way. Winston Churchill said, ‘Problems in victory are more agreeable than problems in defeat but no less difficult.’ And we always adhere to that as coaches because I think the easiest thing to do is we won, let’s move onto the Vikings. Well, there were a lot of things that went on yesterday that we need to continue to correct and that’s the first thing you do in the Tuesday sessions with our guys is corrections.”

— Could Polk start getting more reps, perhaps at Bryce Brown‘s expense? Kelly did not answer that directly, but offered the following: “The one thing I know about Chris is in the last couple weeks specifically he has practiced really, really well, and like we said at any position, it’s an open competition and  you keep showing us you deserve time on the field, that’s what it’s all about.”

— Kelly said there were no injuries to report coming out of Sunday’s game. Safety Earl Wolff (knee) is expected to practice this week, according to the head coach.

— With the poor conditions in the first half and the passing attack unable to get off the ground, did Kelly ever consider putting Michael Vick in at quarterback to focus more on the ground attack?

“No, because the ground attack works with Nick in there,” Kelly replied.

That proved true in the second half.