Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Chip Kelly Logic

Chip Kelly needed just a hand gesture to fend off the perceived complexity.

The Eagles had just used the 35th overall pick on Stanford tight end Zach Ertz even though they already had Brent Celek and James Casey on the roster.

Can you explain, a reporter asked Kelly, how you can make that work?

“Yeah. You go like that (holds three fingers in the air) and three tight ends go in the game,” he said, drawing laughs.

“We are going to go three tight ends in a game. Now, do they go three linebackers? We split them out and throw passes. If they go three DB’s, we smash you. So, pick your poison. Simple game. Isn’t hard. You guys thought coaching was hard. They bring little guys in, you run the ball. They bring big guys in, you throw the ball.”

For all the genius talk, Kelly seems to be a man ruled by basic logic.

We have heard similar quotes since Kelly was hired as Eagles head coach back in mid-January. His most popular line so far  is probably, “Big people beat up little people,” a credo he adheres to when shopping for players. He has specific desired measurables that he passes along to the personnel department. It is not a mandate, but rather a guideline for building a team that is bigger and stronger than the opponent.

“If you constantly take the overachiever at every position, you’re going to be too small,” Kelly explained. “If you take the short defensive tackle backed up by the short middle linebacker backed up by the short safety, then all of a sudden you’re going to get run over.”

He wants them big, he wants them agile, and he wants them smart.

“There’s a very cerebral part to this game that I don’t know if people give enough credit to. It’s about making good decisions. Dumb people do dumb things and smart people rarely do dumb things,” said Kelly.

One thing that you’ll notice is that Kelly has very defined opinions when it comes to approach. This speaks to one of his core principles, which he laid out during a coaches clinic while at Oregon.

“You have to decide what it is you want to do, then do it,” said Kelly. “What you decide is up to you, but find something to be.”

At Oregon, he decided his team would  “play fast, play hard, and finish.” But it wasn’t enough to simply attach the label; they had to reflect those ideals in everything they did — hence the high-octane practices in Eugene (and now, in Philadelphia). The theory is that they need to be up-tempo all the time to truly adopt the identity of being an up-tempo team. Method acting, in a sense.

To boil it down to its simplest form, Kelly has decided he wants large, intelligent players who can operate in a fast-paced system. He will attack based on the matchups. And he will pump said players full of smoothies and sleep because that is what the data tells him to do. There’s really nothing mad-scientist about any of it.

It’s all pretty basic and straightforward, as his verbiage and play-book promise to be. If there is genius, it will be in the simplicity.


Sheil gives us three leftovers from Kelly and Howie Roseman.

The reaction to the Eagles’ draft continues to pour in.

Kapadia uses cut-ups to explain how Ertz can be used in this offense.

Clearing up the AndyReidMatt Barkley-Eagles mini-controversy.

Making sense of the Eagles’ QB situation.

Kelly was sure to call the veterans who could be impacted by the team’s draft-day choices.


 SI.com’s Don Banks weighs in on the Barkley draft choice.

In reality, what Saturday’s biggest draft headline means is Kelly and the Eagles are ready to fit their offense around what Barkley does best. He doesn’t have the biggest arm, and he probably isn’t the best guy to run a lot of read-option looks, but he doesn’t have to be a jackrabbit to direct an up-tempo attack. Kelly admired Barkley’s football smarts, his competitiveness, and his ability to see the field and make quick and accurate decisions. Think Tom Brady and you start to get the real model for what Kelly is after in his goal of running as many plays as possible in a game, and Barkley’s 40 time has little to do with the equation.

Former USC signal-caller Carson Palmer believes that Barkley will be a success.

“I know Matt can play. I’ve had the opportunity to work out with him over the last couple of years. And I’ve obviously had a chance to watch him play,” Palmer told NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano in an interview that will appear Tuesday on “NFL Total Access.”

“For him to go in the fourth round is an absolute steal. I think the bigger question is how he fits into that system, and only time will tell that. But whether the guy can play or not, he can absolutely play, and I know he’s excited to prove a lot of people wrong.”


Plenty more draft material to digest.

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