Are you still trying to put a label on what Chip Kelly's offense is going to be in the NFL?
It's not worth the time or effort at this point. Another week of the Organized Team Activities is in the books. The coaching staff is continuing the process of feeding the new offense to their players. The progression will continue throughout the remainder of the offseason and into Training Camp. You might have to remind yourself it's only May. Memorial Day is this upcoming Monday. There are still, unfortunately, quite a few weekends that must pass before the start of the regular season.
Ask Kelly's assistants, like quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor, and they'll tell you the head coach is innovative. However, Kelly is not re-inventing the wheel. When offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur looked at Kelly's offense from Oregon, he saw components that were similar to what's being used now in the NFL - from the zone read to the passing-game concepts.
"I like to say when we, as coaches, look at plays there's a lot of things that are familiar. Some people call it navy suits. Some people call it blue," Shurmur said. "When I look at it, there's a lot of things that we're going to do that we hope are exciting, but right now we're just teaching the offense and the basics and the fundamentals and try to get the guys up and running."
That's the key. Fans want to fast forward to Monday, Sept. 9 in FedEx Field, but first it's going to take baby steps. Shurmur echoed the same sentiments that Kelly has about the depth chart.
"It's important to not look at who's running ones, who's running twos," Shurmur said. "Everybody who is out there training is getting an opportunity to get reps and improve and I think that's important."
The thing that is pertinent, Shurmur noted, is that the players have bought in to Kelly's program. It's not an offense that Kelly is going to copy-and-paste to use in the NFL. That would be silly to not account for things such as the increased skill set in NFL defensive players or the narrower hashmarks. But even a deeper look at Oregon's offenses showed that they could pick apart a defense in a number of ways. That is something Shurmur hopes will continue in the transition to the NFL.
"We hope that you're seeing an offense that's extremely effective running the ball and throwing the ball. That's what we're hoping to do," Shurmur said. "I think, again, people are trying to paint this that what Chip did in college and say, 'It's this and they'll do that.' I don't think that's the case. They were very effective at running the football. It was a no-huddle-based offense. It was also a very effective passing offense. We'll see."
If the Eagles are going to have an effective passing offense, who will be the quarterback? Kelly has declared that the battle is an open competition. Nick Foles and Michael Vick have received a relatively even amount of work with the first-team offense thus far and there's also rookie Matt Barkley. Shurmur advises fans who are looking for a starter to buckle in and get ready for a ride.
"What we'd like to hope is it's going to be very obvious who the starter is," Shurmur said. "Again, we've got a lot of training sessions left. We've got a full preseason, four preseason games. I think as we go through it and we add more and more to what we're doing; we're hopeful it'll be obvious to everyone who the starter is."
If you must put a label on this offense, the term flexible would be a good one. The Eagles have a variety of quarterbacks with different skill sets. Kelly and Shurmur are not going to pigeon-hole themselves and be forced into using a quarterback just because they have to run a certain scheme.
"I think systems are broad enough and deep enough where depending on who the guy is you will just try to do things to accentuate what they do well," Shurmur said.
At this point, that is probably one of the few definitive things that can be said about Kelly's offense.
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