Chip Kelly thinks time of possession is overrated

Chip Kelly thinks time of possession is overrated

August 22, 2013, 5:45 pm
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Chip Kelly does not believe that more time of possession is necessary to win games in the NFL. (USA Today Images)

Almost every football coach of any level preaches time of possession. Control the clock, they’ll say, and you control the game.

Then there’s Chip Kelly, who’s already known for his unconventional coaching methods and practice habits.

Kelly, widely viewed as an offensive mastermind, downplayed the importance of time of possession, calling it irrelevant.

“I've heard the question about time of possession, but we've talked about all the time -- time of possession is how much time can the other team waste,” Kelly said before Thursday’s walkthrough. “Most games, we lose the time of possession, but it's how many snaps do you face? And I think in both [preseason] games we've played, we've played more snaps than our other team.”

Most coaches believe that controlling time of possession is an significant and telltale stat. A ball-control offense usually doesn’t commit turnovers and usually wears down the opposing defense.

Kelly disagrees with its importance. The former Oregon Ducks head coach referenced a game last season against UCLA. The Bruins had the ball for 38:31. The Ducks held possession 21:29. Despite a near 2-to-1 clock disadvantage, the Ducks thrashed the Bruins, 60-13.

“So all I gathered was that they stand around a lot more [on the field] than we do,” said Kelly, whose offense rarely huddles. “So I think when people look at the time of possession, and that's what people look at automatically ... it's not time of possession. It's plays run is what I look at because you're not exerting any energy if you're just standing in the huddle.”

The subject came up when Kelly was asked how his defense is coping with the up-tempo. The prevailing theory is that the Eagles’ defense, which is under heavy reconstruction, won’t have enough time to rest in between series with the offense moving at lightning pace.

Kelly said the only way his defense would be vulnerable is if the offense is consistently shut down. In the preseason opener, the Eagles ran 86 offensive plays compared to New England’s 72. Against the Panthers in the second exhibition, the Eagles ran 69 plays compared to Carolina’s 58.

Said Kelly: “If it's drastically different and teams are snapping the ball and getting 80 snaps against us against our defense and we're putting 50 snaps up offensively, then it's an issue.”