The very idea that the Eagles could be -- and we stress could be -- a run-to-set-up-the-pass offense is so incredibly foreign after 14 seasons of Andy Reid's throw-early-and-run-with-a-lead philosophy that it hasn't quite been absorbed and that maybe, perhaps, this is the way it's going to be with Chip Kelly.
So let's say Kelly is going to take what he was so successful with at Oregon and bring as much of it as he can to the Eagles. It makes sense to do it that way, right? Kelly's Ducks offense averaged more than 6 yards per carry the last couple of seasons and ran the ball nearly twice as much as it threw the football.
The concept of the Oregon offense, documented at great length in a variety of public web sites, is that everything starts with the Inside Zone Read, a play which has the pre-snap look of the quarterback in the shotgun position, with a halfback lined up behind and to the side of the quarterback. As described by a devout Oregon fan on FishDuck.com, the play is a simple tailback dive play that relies on physical run blocking and a running back who has vision, elusiveness and some giddy-up through the hole.
The other play that is described at length is the Outside Zone read, a play on which the quarterback is again in the shotgun. The tailback, however, lines up next to the quarterback and the play is designed to run to the edge to break a big gain down the sideline.
At Oregon, Kelly's offense ran with incredible success. The offense was keyed by the big-play running attack, which also had many, many plays during which the defense recognized the formation, reacted quickly and stuffed the running back for losses.
What made it work at Oregon was great blocking and running backs who were able to exercise the option in the scheme and bounce an Inside Zone Read play to an open spot outside or to change direction on an Outside Zone Read play and zing an overreacting defense with a change of direction and a sprint to daylight in the open field.
Do the Eagles have the assets to run this offense? The quarterback question is out there, with good reason, because there is a mobility element that Oregon quarterbacks demonstrated, and the passing game relies on a quarterback who can throw after play-action fakes, who can roll and stop and throw and who can successfully operate the tweaks Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will devise from the formations that defenses will study and anticipate.
Certainly, the running backs here are just about perfect for this system. There is no back in the NFL who has more change-of-direction ability than does
Now, there are many more options because, in theory, the field will be spread and more lanes will become available with good one-on-one blocking. The Eagles can create overloads on one side and then run to the open end. Brown, with his combination of speed and power and the ability to make a defender miss, should play well.
I don't know what Kelly has planned for the offense, but it's clear that the strength of the Eagles is running the football and the personnel they can employ using a spread formation to create favorable matchups. If the name of the game is speed, then the Eagles have plenty of it. They may not have the ideal "speed" situation at tight end, but
Who plays quarterback? That's the day-in, day-out question, of course. It's one that likely won't have an answer for quite some time, as options remain on the table in free agency and the draft and with the understanding that no matter who is here when practices begin, the competition for the job is wide open.
The quarterback, whoever he is, has a lot of talent with him in the backfield. And you can expect that the ball is going to be in the hands of the running back a whole lot more than we've seen in the last decade-plus of Eagles action.