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Keys to an Eagles' win over Cardinals
Head coach Chip Kelly on Wednesday denied that his offense uses the read-option and further stated that he doesn't care what anybody thinks about the Eagles' offense. (AP)
Responding to comments by Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who said Wednesday that read-option offenses are better suited to college than the NFL, Eagles coach Chip Kelly said his offense isn’t designed like the ones Arians discussed.
Kelly, who has components of read-option in his spread offense, noted the difference between read-option and zone-read and said his offense is more diverse than the public might think.
“I don’t think [read-option] is an offense,” he said. “I think it’s a play. And we don’t run read-option, if you want to get really technical. We run a zone-read play every once in a while.
“It’s just like saying our offense is a power offense because we run a power play, or the old Green Bay Packers, their offense was the Green Bay sweep offense. It isn’t. Everybody’s got a bunch of plays they run offensively. Everybody’s got quick game, everybody’s got screens, everybody’s got drop back, everybody’s got out of pocket, everybody’s got power, counter, inside zone, outside zone. I never looked at it as an offense.”
Asked to describe the difference between the two offensive concepts, Kelly said the zone-read involves scheming around one defender, often the opposing defensive end, to create a numerical mismatch.
“Zone-read’s just one guy. You’re reading the defensive end or whomever and keeping it,” he said. “If you’re running read-option, you’re pulling it off the hand, and then you got to pitch back with you and then you’re pitching the ball.”
On Wednesday, Arians said the NFL’s defensive coordinators were “too good” to let the read-option phenomenon that took the league by storm last season proliferate and become a staple of NFL offenses.
Arians said the offense is great in college, where athletic quarterbacks can rule the roost.
“It’s still a great offense, a great college offense, when you put a great athlete back there,” Arians said on a conference call with Philadelphia-area reporters. “But when you're facing great athletes with the speed that’s in the NFL and they’re chasing these guys, unless you’re superhuman, you’re gonna get hurt sooner or later. Or not hurt, but beat up and bruised up. You don’t want your quarterback feeling bruised up when he’s trying to throw and be accurate.”
Kelly, whose offense at times is centered on quarterback mobility, was asked if he bought into the notion that quarterbacks who run are more vulnerable to injury.
“I think basically to answer everybody’s question, I don’t care what people think,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t bother me. To spend time for me to think about what someone else thinks is counter to anything I’ve ever believed in my life. If I believe what other people think then that means I value their opinion more than I value my own. That’s not the case."
In fairness, Arians was responding to a question about the regression of read-option quarterbacks in their second seasons, specifically Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
He wasn’t specifically asked about Kelly’s offense, but Arians, who will take his Cards into the Linc on Sunday for a showdown against the Eagles, has railed in the past against read-option offenses.
Kelly’s offense is often compared to the ones in Washington and San Francisco, but only because the media and general public confuse the former Oregon coach’s zone-read schemes with the others.
Kelly denied the comparisons.
“No, [the Niners] got three guys in the backfield with two tight ends and they run it from a pistol formation,” he said. “So I think it’s very different than what we do. Same thing with what the Redskins do, I think is very different than what we do.”
Kelly's offense is predominantly no-huddle and shotgun, which makes it more unconventional than pro-style and West Coast offenses, and his quarterbacks -- whether Mike Vick or Nick Foles -- have used the run on designed plays to gain yardage.
Foles, who ran for 47 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins last Sunday, has two rushing touchdowns this season and is the team’s fourth-leading rusher with 123 yards. Vick, who has missed five games and almost all of a sixth, is the second-leading rusher with 308 yards and has scored two rushing touchdowns. Still, Kelly downplayed the suggestion that plays involving quarterback runs are more dangerous than conventional runs.
“Quarterbacks get hurt in practice. I’ve had quarterbacks get hurt running out of bounds. Quarterbacks get hurt when the blitz hits them and they don’t recognize it," Kelly said. "I don’t look at it that way. I’ve never looked at it that way.”
Kelly said offenses and offensive play calls are often mislabeled. He recalled coaching at New Hampshire and hearing opponents scream “Draw!” every time his quarterback handed the ball off from the shotgun.
“Because up [until] 10 years ago, whenever you handed it out of shotgun, it was [labeled] a draw,” he said. “Didn’t matter if it was sweep, or power, or counter or zone or whatever, it was a draw. So it’s however you want to label it.”
Kelly has always said his offense involves schemes from the spread, pro-style, West Coast and other offenses. Although he’s often called an innovator, Kelly has said only legendary coaches Knute Rockne and Amos Alonzo Stagg can be credited with offensive ingenuity, while everyone else has borrowed from their playbook and adapted it to their own offense.
How does he term his Eagles offense?
“We run the See Coast offense,” he said. “If we see something, and we like it and we think it fits, we’re going to run it. The Philadelphia Eagles run the See Coast offense. Let’s run with that today and go from there.”