Can The Eagles Chip Kelly Take The Lead In The NFL Strategy Race?BREAKING NEWS, Coaching Staff, Eagles, News Friday, January 18th, 2013
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is hoping that a bright, out of box thinking college coach like Chip Kelly, can come into the league and develop a Super Bowl Championship team with new offensive concepts. If that happens it won’t be the first time.
I remember playing against Bill Walsh-coached Stanford teams when I was a USC linebacker and confronting his West Coast offense. He hadn’t completely developed all the concepts of the offense, but he was trying to figure out a way to move the football consistently against us, even though we had superior talent.
They couldn’t run the ball against us, so he decided to use his short passing game as his running game. That’s one of the key concepts of the west coast offense.
They would also run motion, shifts and formations which forced our linebackers to be matched up against their wide receivers, but we able to cover them because we were better athletes, but on the professional level, linebackers can’t cover wide receivers.
If you look at tape of the 49ers you will see the tight end go in motion outside of Jerry Rice versus
Those are still key fundamentals of the west coast offense. Of course a couple of years after those battles, Walsh left Stanford for the 49ers, drafted Joe Montana from Notre Dame, and started winning Super Bowls in a couple of years.
Walsh conducted uptempo practices where his offense focused on timing and precision, rather than a punishing physical type of workouts, which the rest of the league practiced.
There’s one difference in Walsh and Kelly and that’s the fact that Walsh had NFL experience when he became head coach of the 49ers. He had been offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals.
In 1985 the Chicago Bears defense dominated the NFL like no defense ever has or ever will. They finished the season 18-1 and won a Super Bowl title. There was much talk that year about Jim McMahon and William “Refrigerator” Perry, but success was solely because of defense because their defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan was ahead of every NFL offense.
He believed in attacking the least tough player on the offense, the quarterback, by attacking the offensive blocking scheme. His 46 defense moved eight-guys into the box to entice the offense to throw the ball, then he would blitz them to death and pummel the quarterback. He knew if he just got good hits on the quarterback every time he threw the ball, they would start throwing interceptions and the offense would crumble.
Not only did the Bears defense stop opposing offenses, it seemed that they forced turnovers every other play. They scored on defense consistently and had most of the league so intimidated that they started making mistakes as they were getting off the bus at the stadium.
For a few years, Buddy Ryan was strategically and intellectually ahead of the rest of the league. It took them a few years to figure out the 46 defense and how to attack it.
Bill Parcells turned Lawrence Taylor and a dominating New York Giants defense loose on the NFL and the Giants won a couple Super Bowl titles. Bill Belichick was the defensive coordinator of those teams, which were led by their defense.
Joe Gibbs, the “Hogs” and John Riggins ruled the NFL for a few years with their power sweep. He used many of Walsh’s match-up concepts in his passing game, but it was the power running game, which set them apart. He had learned that power running game as an assistant coach at USC.
Former Miami University head coach Jimmy Johnson brought his enthusiasm and leadership ability to the Dallas Cowboys. Norv Turner brought the punishing running game he had learned as a graduate assistant at USC and the downfield passing game he had learned from working under offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.
He had Troy Aikman throwing the same pass routes which Dan Fouts had thrown. This passing attack emphasizes the downfield passing game.
Former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan utilized Terrell Davis and the zone blocking scheme to capture a couple of Super Bowl titles in the late nineties. Shanahan employed the West Coast passing game, which he learned as an assistant for Bill Walsh with the 49ers. John Elway was the quarterback of those teams, but they dominated the game on the ground.
Dick Vermeil and the St. Louis Rams took over the league for a few years with their “Greatest Show On Turf”. It was an uptempo offense that spread out defenses and attacked them down the field.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz and quarterback Kurt Warner attacked defenses with speed and precision at the wide receiver position. Martz was a mad bomber from the Ernie Zampese, Don Coryell school of passing, which believes in attacking the defense with deep seam (skinny posts) routes and throwing the ball downfield.
Coryell designed the San Diego Chargers offense that made Fouts a Hall of Fame quarterback.
That Rams team had Hall of Fame level personnel at their skill positions with Warner, RB Marshall Faulk, WR Isaac Bruce and WR Torry Holt.
For most of his career, Hall of Fame bound quarterback Peyton Manning has been ahead of the defenses in the National Football League. He has the ability to get pre-snap reads like no one in league history. Many times he would call the play at the line of scrimmage.
Unfortunately Manning let’s the pressure get to him in the playoffs and doesn’t play at the same level, but strategically he has been ahead of the league for most of his career.
There’s no question that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have been ahead on the league, when it comes to the strategy of moving the ball offensively. Year after year Tom Brady and the Pats offense have found ways to score more points than everybody in the NFL regardless of their talent at the skills positions. They create the right matchups, then exploit them.
There’s no question that Chip Kelly’s spread offense has had a major affect on the NFL although he has never coached on this level. The read option is being used by the 49ers, Seahawks, Redskins and Panthers. The zone blocking scheme is being used by the Texans, the Redskins, and a number of other teams.
You must have the superior strategy with the players who can make it work. When the two come together, you have yourself a championship team.
We’ll see whether he can get ahead of the rest of the NFL in talent and strategy. It’s going to be quite a challenge.
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