Many NFL experts thought that Chip Kelly would be getting in over his head when he came to the NFL from college. The Oregon teams he coached were great fun to watch and he certainly had a different style but the thought was that he couldn’t transfer that to the NFL. And while the NFL is an entirely different animal, Chip Kelly is proving all the naysayers wrong so far. His Eagles had a successful first year under him and are 3-1 so far in the 2014 season.
I am sure many of the Eagles players were surprised at all the strange techniques that Chip Kelly brought to the game. Unless a player had been with the Ducks in their college playing days, how could they be used to what he was trying to implement. I know big time college teams try to promote proper nutrition, workout habits, and treating the body right. But Kelly was going to a whole new level by bringing in sleep experts, deeply focused nutritionists, and running practices like a fire drill to get everything in as fast as possible. He was not afraid to change things up when he got to the big leagues of the NFL. If he was going to fall on his face, he was going to fail by doing it his way, not using the same old techniques of every other coach.
The biggest testament to Chip Kelly‘s big brain for offense was the success his quarterback Nick Foleshad last year. The guy played lights out the whole year and his TD to INT ratio was absurd at 27/2. No expert thought Foles was capable of leading such a season or those crazy numbers from last year. I heard the term “quarterback proofing an offense” just the other day when a football pundit was discussing Kelly. I had never heard or thought of that term before but it was brilliant. I don’t know if that is the goal of Kelly or not. But if it is, and he can make that method work for multiple seasons with different QBs like he did in college, I will be super impressed. That feat would make him one of the greatest offensive minds in the history of football. NFL coaches in the past have had success over the long haul using different QBs along the way, but not by throwing the ball most of the time like Kelly’s teams. Those other coaches used a running game and a stout defense to hide their quarterbacks’ weaknesses. Kelly is using an innovative offense to protect his quarterback from his own weaknesses. That is truly genius.
The status quo always tries to knock down any new ideas, so I love it when the status quo is made to look a fool. The high school coach out in Arkansas, Kevin Kelley, who NEVER punts and almost always does onside kicks, is a great example of doing things differently in the game of football. His story is one of putting aside old traditions that are still in place simply because most coaches are too cowardly to try new approaches. It is too easy to just do things the old school way.
Chip Kelly is doing his outside the box thing on the pro level and making the experts look foolish. 2014 is a time full of innovations in everyday technology. I am glad to see football is not being left out thanks to guys like Chip Kelly and Kevin Kelley. It takes some guts to try different things in the face of traditions that are many decades old. I am glad they had the stones to try these new styles of play. It makes the game better and leads to more innovation in the future. It is too bad that so few football coaches are wiling to take a chance.