From the outside looking in, the pairing of head coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur doesn't seem to make much sense. Kelly's offenses at Oregon were quick and explosive, while Shurmur was known more as a proponent of the West Coast Offense, which features sharp passing and a more methodical offensive approach.
But Shurmur bristled at the notion that he and Kelly were of different minds. In fact, Shurmur said Monday, he was drawn back to Philadelphia because of the similarities between the new head coach and himself.
"Even though our experiences are way different, I think philosophically we had a common ground," Shurmur said. "I was in a situation where I told him, 'Listen, I just want to go somewhere and help somebody win football games.' And so that was my mindset. We kind of reached a common ground philosophically in how we want to build this thing, and he said, 'Why don't you come join me?'"
Shurmur spent 10 years in Philadelphia coaching the Eagles' tight ends and quarterbacks before departing in 2009 to become the Rams' offensive coordinator. After two seasons in St. Louis, he became the head coach of the Browns. This time around, Shurmur acknowledged that Kelly will likely call the plays, but also that he and Kelly will use their collective experience to build a flexible offense capable of excelling in all areas.
"We learned offense a little different way, but we both understand the important thing is to score points and win football games," he explained. "(The approach on offense) depends on the game. You develop a system of how you want to move the football and score points, and then within the game you may run it a little more than you throw it; you may throw it a little more than you run it. I think just philosophically we see it that way."
Of course, scoring points relies on having the right quarterback. The Eagles agreed to a restructured deal with Michael Vick on Monday. With both Vick and second-year man Nick Foles on the team, Shurmur has two quarterbacks with distinct styles to coach. As with the rest of the team, the offensive gameplan will play to the strengths of the quarterback in the game, whoever it may be.
"I'm excited that Michael is going to be with us," Shurmur said. "One of the first things I did when I walked in the building was look at (the tape on) Michael and his year. And quite frankly, I'd already peeked at it back in Cleveland. I'm looking forward to it.
"I think (Vick and Foles) both have an outstanding skill set. They both, athletically, are a little different, but I think what's important is that we use the quarterbacks to the best of their ability. The system's very flexible, and with all the great minds we have in the room now, we'll just develop a system that works for us and for them."
As college offenses like the read option become more popular in the NFL, one of the biggest questions of the offseason has been how (or even if) Kelly will utilize it in the pros. Kelly's offenses at Oregon featured mobile quarterbacks who are as dangerous in the pocket as they are outside of it. Many pundits and fans have speculated on what that would mean for team's quarterback situation. Shurmur indicated that these concepts will be in the playbook, even if they aren't the go-to schemes.
"I think some of the ideas from college are trickling up," Shurmur said. "That's a little bit of what Chip did in college. That'll be in the package. Now, how much of it we use will be based on who's playing quarterback and what the game dictates."
Exactly how the offense falls into place remains to be seen. But whatever the scheme, Shurmur and Kelly are hard at work, creating a plan to bring explosive and exciting offensive football back to Philadelphia.
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