According to Michael Vick, Chip Kelly showed only 50 percent during the preseason of what his offense is like. (USA Today Images)
We saw glimpses in OTAs and minicamps. We saw snippets in training camp and preseason games. We’ve gotten hints here and there what it might look like.
On Monday night, we’ll finally get to see what’s behind the curtain.
The Eagles have only shown a small sampling so far of the schemes, formations and plays they’ll run this year under their first-year head coach, so the Eagles’ Monday night opener will mark the true unveiling of Chip Kelly’s scheme.
“I think in the preseason you may have seen 50 percent of the offense,” Michael Vick said. “We changed it from Week 1 to Week 2, we kept some of the same concepts in the game plan, but Week 3 was totally different than Week 1 and Week 2.
“Maybe we did it because we wanted to give the Washington Redskins a different look, I don’t know. But it was different and we still had success. But it’s only about 50, 55 percent of the offense that you’ve seen. Everything else, the exotics, will come Monday night.”
Kelly, architect of one of the greatest offenses in college football history, debuts the NFL version of his warp-drive offense on Monday night when the Eagles face the Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
We saw bits and pieces during the preseason. We saw tons of no-huddle and curious formations and inventive use of personnel.
But it was only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
“We’re still pretty much doing a lot of things we did in the preseason but spicing it up a little bit,” Vick said. “You’ll see different formations, you’ll see us moving around a little bit, you’ll see guys put in different spots. Without saying too much, I think you’ll notice a big difference.”
In Kelly’s four years as head coach at Oregon, the Ducks averaged 43.6 points, 486 yards per game and went 46-7, including a 36-4 mark the last three years. From 2009 through 2012, no NCAA Division I program piled up more yards or scored more points.
The first guy in charge of stopping Kelly’s offense is Jim Haslett, the long-time Saints head coach now in his fourth year as the Redskins’ defensive coordinator.
Haslett said in addition to studying the Eagles’ four preseason games, he watched a ton of Oregon tape to get a feel for what the Eagles’ offense might look like.
“When you watch the film, it’s creative and it’s different -- stuff you haven’t seen,” he said. “It’ll be a good matchup between us.
“You don’t know what anybody’s going to do in a game until you get in a game. You have to be able to adjust to what they’re doing and be flexible in what you’re doing. We’ll make some adjustments on the field and on the sideline, but that’s kind of what you do all the time, no matter who you’re playing.”
One thing Haslett did to prepare for the Eagles was study complete game tapes from Oregon, not just cut-ups. That gave him a sense of the speed in which Kelly likes to operate his offense.
“We could see really what the tempo was like, and that’s a good study,” he said. “Now, they can’t do everything [they did at Oregon] because the different formations you run in college you can’t run in this league, but they’ll just find different ways to do it, but our guys are prepared. They’re ready for it. They’ve seen everything.”
The Eagles’ hurry-up is designed so the Eagles can run a variety of formations and alignments and run a lot of different things out of them with the same 11 players. If they don’t substitute, the opponent most likely won’t be able to substitute. So the Redskins prepared for the Eagles using their base 11 guys against various alignments and personnel groupings.
“I think we can play in our base and stay in it all day against everything, so that’s not a problem,” Haslett said. “We’ve worked every personnel grouping, we’ve worked when we’ve substituted, we’ve worked when we couldn’t substitute, so I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.”
There’s always an element of unknown facing a new coach. But Kelly’s college background and the fact that he’s never even been an NFL coordinator make this opener even more unpredictable than most.
“I think that first game is always a little intriguing, any time you bring in a new head coach and a new system,” Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said. “I think that first game is always a little bit tougher.”
But Haslett said after all the film he’s watched, there shouldn’t really be any more surprises.
“I can only go by what I’ve seen,” Haslett said. “I’ve watched 23, 24 Oregon films, I watched what they did in preseason. If they can do anything else, God bless ‘em.”