Head coach Chip Kelly has explained since he was hired in January to not label his offense. Kelly's up-tempo, spread offense at Oregon averaged 44.7 points per game in his four seasons as the Ducks head coach. Last season, Kelly's offense at Oregon averaged nearly 83 plays per game. But what exactly does that truly mean? And what statistic does Kelly think truly matters? During a roundtable session with reporters prior to the start of Training Camp, Kelly delved into his offensive philosophy and how there is a lot of math involved even though Chevy Chase said there wouldn't be ...
On how his up-tempo style affects talented players: “I think if you have quality players, they want to win and if you show them how to win, and your ‘why’ of what you’re trying to do, then they’ll embrace it. When you have a quality team, the bottom line is they want to be successful, and we have a lot of guys right now who want to be successful. Are they buying in? Yeah, they’re buying in because they know that they benefit from it if they buy in, so I think it’s a win-win when you approach it the right way, and that’s why we do explain the ‘whys’ to them. We would never ask a guy to do something that wouldn’t be beneficial to him. We don’t do things just for the sake of doing things. This isn’t change just for the sake of change. This is change that we believe is necessary, because we believe in what we’re doing and we’ve got evidence to prove that it’s going to work.”
On how last place NFL teams have been turning it around very quickly recently: “I just think the league is set up that way. Everyone has the same rules. Everybody has the same salary cap. If you finish first this year, you draft 32nd the next year. If you finish 32nd one year, you draft first the next year. The league is set up in that manner. If a team is successful because they have all older players, you can’t keep them all because you don’t have enough money to keep them all. You look at guys (like) Ed Reed (who) is playing somewhere else now. No fault to the Ravens, they can’t sign everybody. The league is structured that way where it doesn’t take five, six, seven years to develop your minor leagues and continue to get depth and bring them up through the ranks; it’s set up for you to get a chance if you do a good job in your selections of who you’re bringing in.”
On whether or not his offense runs at different speeds: “We don’t look at it as different speed. Also, what we do in practice, we just want to be efficient. We’re not going to be no-huddle the entire season, every single play. We huddle now in practice. I’ve always believed that if someone said, ‘You have to huddle during the season’ then I’d huddle during the season, but I’d still go no-huddle in practice, because we want to get more plays off. We’re just trying to be more efficient with our time on the practice field, so we’re saving time by running up and back to the line of scrimmage. But I’ve heard guys talk about how we have four or five different speeds and how we do things, but that’s not how we do it. There are certain plays we can call where we don’t need the defense to be set and there are other plays where we need to get the right look to get in the right play. But a lot of that from a speed standpoint, we never say we want plays snapped in X amount of seconds or anything like that.”
On how the tempo isn’t always fast-paced: “A lot of times, we need to make sure we see the defense. We’re going to run the right play based on what the defense is in. I think sometimes you can confuse yourself more than you can confuse them. If they didn’t line up right and they have nine guys standing over there, and you have a play called that’s going to run into those nine guys then maybe playing fast wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Sometimes, you need to let things get settled down and get an opportunity to make sure you’ve got the right look. A lot of things we’re doing we’re trying to throw on the best located safety. Well, we better make sure we locate the safeties before we snap the football, or do we want to run it on one guy or away from another guy? You’ve got to make sure. Some of those things you can see before you start. It’s not all just driven on how many plays we can get run.”
On what the ideal number of plays to run each game would be: “Whatever it takes to win. I’ve never been caught up in any of that at all. I don’t care. The only thing I look at on a stat sheet is did we have more points than they had, because you don’t know. I think people get caught up in too many things. The only real statistic that I look at, from a statistical standpoint when you analyze it, is response after turnover. It’s not what you do in the turnover battle, you know our defense can create four turnovers but if we go up and score no points, it’s not going to matter. You say ‘Hey, we were plus 4 in turnovers,’ well what is the offense going to do with it? It’s been the same exact thing where our offense has turned the ball over, but our defense goes out and pitches a shutout. Well, they did a great job, they picked us up. You talk about that from a statistical standpoint.”
On the importance of points off of turnovers: “That’s a huge metric that we look at, because I think you can control that. Some of the metrics you look at, you know, if (we) lead the country in plays run, like at the college level, then you probably weren’t really good on defense, because you’re always playing catch up. We were up a lot at halftime so we took our foot of the gas. We could have run 100 plays in a lot of games, but there’s no reason to run a hundred plays.
"Being sensible is that if we have the ball now, I want to go on an eight minute drive. I don’t want to score in two seconds. We did that in the first half, and now we’re up. We played our first game last year, we were up 50-3 at halftime, we won 57-34, but we still won. Our threes got a ton of reps. We emptied our bench and we got a lot of guys some valuable playing time where other guys were like, ‘Well, the other team was coming back in it,’ but I look at the value of us getting to play our entire roster, and look at the value of running mo
re plays then them. I think they actually ran more plays than us, and we were up 50-3 at the half.”
On the key to capitalizing on turnovers: “A lot of it is a mindset. What do you do with it? What’s your game plan? And kind of study that, but part of it is a responsibility offensively. If your defense is going to go out there and bust their tails and create turnovers, then we’ve got to do something with those turnovers.”
On wide receivers running multiple-option routes: “I think that’s really common, to be honest with you. I think most routes convert, even at the high school level. If you’re supposed to run a hitch route and there’s a Cover-2 corner sitting in front of you at 5 yards, you’re not going to run a hitch route anymore; you’re going to convert that to a fade. I think that’s a common thing that goes on at all levels of football.”
On the importance of the wide receivers practicing at every position on the field: “I think they have to understand concepts, first and foremost. A lot of what we throw in the pass games has to do with concepts, so you need to know where everyone else is in the concept so that you understand what your route is and that you held the integrity of that route.
“It’s not just a ‘Why can’t I break this route off here?’ because the guy inside you is running a route that breaks out. So I think the overall teaching on what we do in our passing game is guys understanding concepts. They also have to be able to see the game through the eyes of the quarterback, because I haven’t met a receiver yet that isn’t open. That’s true and I understand that. And then they say ‘Yeah, I’m open,’ but what you guys don’t understand is that yeah you’re open because the ball was thrown over there and the entire defense ran over there, and when they run over there, now you’re open. But were you open when the quarterback was ready to throw the ball and at the top of his drop? He looked, you were covered, therefore he got off of you on his progression, and went here. This is where understanding the conceptual part of it helps them become a better receiver, so that’s part of what we’re trying to teach.”
On whether or not that gives wide receivers more freedom in the offense: “I think it gives them an understanding, I don’t think it gives them more freedom. So it’s not like they can start freelancing now, because if we call for a certain route, they have to be where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there, with separation, and then catch a football. They can’t then say ‘All right, I’m going to stop short because I’m open now.’ Well, the quarterback isn’t even on you in his progression. There’s certain spacing and distances, so you have to have an understanding of where you are in that space.”
On basing his style off of anyone else: “We’re just trying to figure out what gives us the best advantage to win. I think everybody has a philosophy if you’re a head coach on how you’re going to do things, because if not then how would you prepare for practice if you didn’t know what you wanted to do. We have a feeling, as a staff, of what we need to do to execute and we’re going to set forth that plan in terms of how we’re going to practice and what we’re going to do.”
On how math comes into play: “I was told there would be no math. There’s a ton of math. Do they have one more man in the box? That’s what defenses are trying to do, putting one more man in the box to stop your run game. Well, if you’ve got one more man in the box, you have fewer guys deep. So now that becomes the chess match within the game of how are they going to try to defend us? Are you going to play man coverage all day long and get an extra guy in there? Well you can do that, but you better be able to hold up in man coverage. Does your rush get home? That’s the fun part from a strategic standpoint in the game itself. Or can you play two-deep, but your defense can hold up because your safeties don’t have to be involved in the run fits. If they’re involved in the run fits, then the ball gets thrown over your head. That’s the game itself, and when you think someone’s fitting a front, they’re not fitting a front, they did a great job of disguising it, so that’s part of your film study and evaluation of making sure you put a plan together and you don’t get fooled.”
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