In this edition of "Mosher's Mailbag," I answer a question about if dual TE sets will be used more next season than last year:
Q: Wondering if you saw any more frequency of dual TE sets compared to last season? Hoping that's a big strength.
-- Joey (@JoeyTPhilly)
A: Minicamp and OTAs for Chip Kelly, like all coaches, is mainly to get newcomers and draft picks acclimated to the offense and defense. Much of what we see at camps isn’t necessarily what we’ll see come September.
The Eagles showcased a variety of different formations during the spring camps, several featuring two tight ends and several featuring at least three wideouts. But you can’t read too much into formations and personnel groupings in May and June.
Right now, Kelly knows what he has in Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and James Casey. He needs to find out more about veteran receivers Brad Smith, Arrelious Benn and rookies Jordan Matthews and (to a lesser extent) Josh Huff.
Smith joined the team halfway through last year, so this is his first camp to learn Kelly’s offense. He took a bunch of reps in the slot during the camps. Benn missed all of last year after tearing his ACL in training camp, so he needs reps to develop a rapport with the quarterbacks and to showcase his talent in Kelly’s offense. Matthews, the Birds' second-round pick, needs as many reps possible to get adjusted to the playbook along with the speed and tempo at the professional level.
It makes sense for Kelly right now to get as many snaps for his receivers as he can. But when the season starts Sept. 7 against the Jags, Kelly’s most experienced (and therefore most reliable) offense will feature Celek and Ertz. I would anticipate that two tight-end offensive packages will be the bread and butter of the Eagles’ attack earlier in the season until Matthews is ready to see an uptick in playing time.
Last year, Kelly went with experience over upside when he designed his offense around three-wide formations featuring DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and Jason Avant, with Celek at tight end. Even though he used the 34th overall pick on Ertz, Kelly gradually eased the rookie tight end into the offense and didn’t feature more two tight-end formations until later in the season.
The same thinking can be applied be applied to the start of this season, with Kelly using Celek and Ertz more at the start of the year until Matthews and Huff are ready.