For the second consecutive season, the Eagles will be traveling down to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers. Due to the Michael Vick's current day-to-day injury status, Nick Foles could get the start, just as he did last season in the Eagles' 23-21 victory in Week 14. Chip Kelly and his coaching staff watched the tape from that game, but Kelly said he focused on the Buccaneers defense more than he did on his quarterback.
"I'm not looking at (Foles' performance)," Kelly said before Wednesday's practice. "I'm watching the Tampa Bay defense. How did Tampa Bay change from one year to the next? How similar are their calls. How much did they pressure in 2012 compared to 2013. Have the coverages changed? Are their additions this year compared to last year? Nick obviously did a nice job. They won the game and he threw a nice sprint out to (Jeremy) Maclin to win the thing. He kept a lot of drives alive with his feet in that game, but really when we're watching those games, we're watching the defense specifically and that's what we're breaking down."
In 2012, Tampa Bay had the best rushing defense in the NFL, allowing just 82.5 yards per game on the ground. This season, that number has increased slightly to 93.4 yards per game, but it still places Tampa Bay ninth overall among this season's best run defenses. LeSean McCoy, the NFL's leading rusher, will put the Buccaneers to the test with his speed, but Kelly knows that Tampa's defense is one of the quickest that the Eagles will see.
"I think that their overall team speed is outstanding," said Kelly. "They can run at every level. They run well on the defensive line. You're facing a defensive line that's different than last week's. Last week's defensive line had some really big bodies inside who are extremely tough to move. It's a different animal this week. Gerald McCoy may be the best three-technique in the league. He's explosive, he's fast, he's dynamic, and he can run. They've got athletic ability on the defensive line and they're not as big as some of the teams that we've played, but they're faster than teams that we've played. They run well at the linebacker spot, all of those linebackers- (Mason) Foster, (Lavonte) David – they can really run."
While the Buccaneers run defensive was the best in the NFL last season, their passing defense was the polar opposite, allowing a league-worst 297.4 yards per game through the air. Tampa Bay has since added some talented players to the secondary, and Kelly believes that those new faces have helped make the defense even tougher to play against.
"(They have) additions from last year – they have (Darrelle) Revis, who they didn't have last year, and they didn't have (Dashon) Goldston last year," Kelly said. "Personnel is a little bit upgraded I would say, but they were a good defense last year. (Gerald) McCoy is a guy who really jumps out at you on tape. Lavonte David jumps out at you on tape, and then you add Goldston and you add Revis, so I believe they are better than they were last year… (Revis) is right up there in that discussion as one of the best to ever play the game. He's a huge challenge for us and it will be interesting to see how they will deploy him this week."
As Kelly prepares to play the Buccaneers for the first time, he fielded questions about his discussions with the Tampa Bay front office about the head coaching vacancy during the 2012 season.
"I didn't want to leave the staff at Oregon at that time and I didn't want to leave the players at Oregon at that time," Kelly said. "They met me when I was on the road recruiting. I was impressed with the three Glazer brothers and I was impressed with (Buccaneers general manager) Mark Dominik, but it was more of a decision to stay at Oregon at the time then it was to go anywhere in the NFL.
"I didn't have NFL aspirations. They contacted me and I said I would go to an interview as long as it didn't affect my recruiting. It was the first time that I had ever been contacted by a team so I said as long as it didn't affect where I am, and they were gracious enough to work it into the schedule where it didn't affect the recruiting schedule, and I listened."
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