Are Nick Foles, Chip Kelly, and the NFL a Match?

Are Nick Foles, Chip Kelly, and the NFL a Match?

They have yet to conduct so much as one formal interview, or
even fire Andy Reid for that matter, but it sure sounds like the Eagles have a great
deal of interest in Chip Kelly. The rumor reached fever pitch over the past few
days since CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported the Birds are expected to be among
the first NFL teams to call the University of Oregon head coach about their new openings.

I imagine this front office will be among the first to
contact many of their potential targets. After all, they had to be plotting this
search for almost two months now – Howie Roseman probably built an itinerary he’ll
follow right down to the 15-minute interval – and naturally they wouldn’t limit
themselves to one candidate, either. (Technically, they couldn't because of the Rooney Rule.)
My own best guess is the Eagles move quickly, but proceed thoroughly.

In other words, Kelly is certainly on the radar if these
rumblings are to be believed, although whether or not he emerges as the so-called
favorite remains to be seen. Two possible impediments immediately spring to
mind, and those happened to be discussed by John Boruk and Ray Didinger on
Wednesday’s edition of Daily News Live:

1. Will his
spread offense translate to the NFL?

2. Is Nick Foles a fit for that
style of offense?


First, that presumes Chip off the Oregon block is going to
arrive from college football and instantly install a replica of the Ducks’
offense. Second, if Foles isn’t the quarterback in Philly next season, then who
is?

Bear in mind, any head coach works inside of two fairly
simple constructs: what is successful in the National Football League, and
the talent on their roster. And to keep both issues as boilerplate as
possible: 1. the spread offense Oregon presently employs resembles no other NFL
offense, 2. the Eagles don’t have many other options under center, especially
good ones.

Both of which suggest Coach Kelly would be forced to evolve.

Is that to say he would not be the hire? Not
necessarily. As La Canfora wrote, Kelly is going to be a hot commodity this
January. Besides the Eagles, the Carolina Panthers are also rumored to be
serious about testing the waters. Last year, it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
who all but snagged the guy until he suddenly thought better of it. But no
matter where he goes, the expectation will be he immediately adapt to
the pro game.

Even if Kelly wanted to run a variation of his current scheme here, the
Birds don’t possess the personnel to do it, couldn’t easily come across it,
either – unless of course they decided to stick with Michael Vick. Hm… great
idea, putting Vick in a system that exposes him to more hits.

There are no big-name free agents, no supposed can’t-miss prospect
in this year’s draft. So then, which is more likely: an organization hires a
head coach to build around an unorthodox, soon-to-be-33-year-old quarterback who
has never experienced sustained success, or it hires a head coach willing to
develop a player entering just his second season who shares more attributes with the traditional pocket
passers that have won Super Bowls in the past decade?

Not to keep running in circles, but that still should not automatically preclude Kelly from consideration. Actually, it might be unreasonable to
assume he plans to port Oregon’s scheme to the Eagles anyway. That thought sure didn't prevent the Bucs from getting involved, and QB Josh Freeman isn't exactly the fleetest of foot.

That's the one thing I absolutely am not hung up on – the spread attack being the sole quality Chip Kelly has to offer. If he were strictly attached to such an unconventional gimmick, would he be generating so much
buzz around the league in the first place? I don't think so. He's going to run an offense that is designed to beat an NFL defense, constructed for the talent he has to work with.

Kelly said as much himself over the summer:

“No one can be married to one thing, because it’s all personnel-driven,” Kelly said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “It’s like the Denver Broncos. What John Fox did in Denver with Tim Tebow was outstanding because he looked at what he had for a player and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to run this.’ Now, all of a sudden, they have Peyton Manning and they’re not going to run the same plays. . . . It’s a personnel-driven game and I think the coaches that are the best at it can adapt their systems to the NFL.”

Best of NBA: Bulls hand Spurs first road loss of season

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Best of NBA: Bulls hand Spurs first road loss of season

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points, and the Chicago Bulls handed San Antonio its first road loss after a 13-0 start, hanging on to beat the Spurs 95-91 on Thursday night.

San Antonio fell one win shy of matching the NBA's best road start set by the Golden State Warriors last season. The Spurs cut an 18-point deficit midway through the third quarter to four in the closing minutes, only to come up short.

Kawhi Leonard scored 24 for San Antonio. Patty Mills added 16 points, hitting 4 of 6 3-pointers. Former Bull Pau Gasol had 13 points and 10 rebounds in his first game in Chicago since signing with San Antonio in the summer, but the Spurs lost a road game for the first time since Oklahoma City knocked them out in the Western Conference semifinals last season.

Jimmy Butler scored all of his 13 points for Chicago in the second half. Rajon Rondo added 12 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds, and Chicago picked up the win after dropping three in a row and six of nine.

The Spurs hadn't dropped a regular-season road game since Denver beat them on April 8 (see full recap).

Scoreboard malfunction, quiet crowd don’t stop Wizards’ rally
WASHINGTON -- Overcoming a sluggish start in front of a sparse, silent crowd and with a malfunctioning scoreboard, the Washington Wizards came back to beat the Nuggets 92-85 on Thursday night, thanks mainly to Bradley Beal's 26 points and Denver's season-high 29 turnovers.

John Wall scored only 15 points one game after a career-best 52, but nine came in the fourth quarter for Washington, which trailed by as many as 14 in the first half.

With starting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay inactive because of what the team said was a sprained right ankle, the Nuggets went 5 1/2 minutes without a point in the fourth quarter.

In that final period, they had 10 of their turnovers and shot 1 for 14 on 3-pointers -- including 0 for 4 in one last-minute possession (see full recap).

Gasol, clutch free throws lift Grizzlies over
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol scored 36 points and Toney Douglas made two free throws with less than a second left to give the Memphis Grizzlies an 88-86 comeback victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Douglas finished with 11 points, scoring the game's final six points to seal Memphis' fifth straight victory.

Gasol was 13 of 24 from the field, including 4 of 6 from outside the arc. But Douglas, signed by Memphis this week because of injuries, took over down the stretch. The guard scored on a 19-footer with 34 seconds left, then converted two pairs of free throws in the last 20 seconds.

CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 24 points, and Damian Lillard had 19 on 6-of-18 shooting. Evan Turner had 15 points and 10 rebounds (see full recap).

Sixers beat Pelicans without Joel Embiid leading the way

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Sixers beat Pelicans without Joel Embiid leading the way

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS -- Joel Embiid shot just 5 for 15 from the field and the Sixers … wait … the Sixers won. 

Surprising? Actually, that’s just how the Sixers envision finding success.

It’s not about Embiid having a relatively quiet night on offense with 14 points, especially going 0 for 5 from three. It’s about other players getting involved and taking the burden off the rookie. Embiid has proved he can do a lot of things, but carrying a team each night in his first season isn’t what the Sixers have in mind. 

“I think that’s when we’re at our best,” Nik Stauskas said after the Sixers beat the Pelicans 99-88 (see Instant Replay). “Obviously there are a few guys in the NBA like a LeBron (James), KD (Kevin Durant) or Steph (Curry) that can single-handedly win a game throughout the entire season. But most of the teams are going to rely on bench players to step up and make shots and make plays. I think that’s when we’re most effective.”

Embiid entered Thursday night averaging 24.3 points and shooting 48.9 percent in Sixers wins (three games played). His 14 points against the Pelicans were his fewest in a victory this season. He also grabbed seven boards with four blocks and three steals. Embiid was a game-high plus-27, which Brett Brown called "massive."

Instead of being powered offensively by their centerpiece, the Sixers received solid efforts from the starters and reserves. Ersan Ilyasova scored 23 points (along with eight rebounds) for the second straight game. Sergio Rodriguez chipped in 16 points and eight assists. Off the bench,  Stauskas hit three treys en route to 14 points while Dario Saric scored 10 points with five rebounds as the team snapped an overall eight-game losing skid and a 23-game road losing streak. 

Embiid’s teammates attribute their success to the fact he is such a focal point of the opponents’ defense. In comparison to the beginning of the season when Embiid was getting stifled by double-teams, he has been learning how to pass out of them. Embiid expects to see two defenders every game and has been making adjustments to create opportunities for others to shoot rather than committing turnovers. 

“We’re not standing around a lot and just focusing on what Jo can do,” Robert Covington said. “Jo is making great moves to find guys that are open. He’s willing to pass. We’re starting to build the chemistry that everyone’s been looking for.”

Ilyasova has noticed a change in the flow of the offense and has capitalized on defensive mismatches when opponents swarm Embiid. 

“We just share the ball well,” Ilyasova said. “I find myself open. Obviously Joel does a great job of as far as when there is a double-team, just kicking out. When I see the open look, I try to knock that shot down.” 

This style of play is mutually beneficial for both Embiid and his teammates. Just because Embiid is passing out doesn't mean he's not getting his looks. Oftentimes, dishing out of a double-team allows him to get a better look on the next touch. 

“It’s a team effort," Covington said. "We’re doing so much as a unit that we’re not just focusing on just get Jo the ball and let him do his thing. He’s getting the ball, he’s surveying the floor and then he’s making his moves. He’s reading the defense really well. He’s doing a lot of [kicking out]. Then we find him a lot of re-posts and finding the open shot and making it easy for him to find the easy bucket.” 

Embiid is capable of scoring 20-plus in spite of his 28-minute restriction. The Sixers are making strides, though, by finding ways to win when he isn’t the running up the scoreboard. 

“I think there’s no doubt Jo is our best player and our offense is going to revolve around him most of the time,” Stauskas said. “But we’re playing our best when he’s posting up and kicking out to guys and they’re hitting threes or we’re taking pressure off him by making plays and the defense can’t just be solely focused on him. In a game like tonight, that’s kind of what you saw.”