Chip Kelly’s Offense Utilizes Basketball ConceptsBREAKING NEWS, Coaching Staff, Eagles, News Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
I remember widening as a running back for the Stanford University football team went in motion outside of the wide receiver. The wideout wasn’t lined up as wide as usual, but I didn’t get any wider than the wideout because were in a zone defense. Normally the running back or tight end was the first receiver, who could threaten my zone, but this motion now had the wide receiver as the first threat I had in my area.
Thankfully the Stanford wide receivers weren’t very fast, so I didn’t have any trouble matching up with him while he was in my area of the zone defense. I was playing outside linebacker that late fall afternoon for the USC Trojans and we were playing against a Bill Walsh coached Stanford team. Later on I would face that same motion when were playing a Walsh-coached San Francisco 49ers team and the wide receiver would be Jerry Rice and I didn’t have as much success covering him.
Walsh was one of the first coaches to send the running back outside of the wide receiver, as a way of forcing a switch on the defense. It was like a basketball pick play, where the offense gets the matchup they want. Walsh used basketball concepts in his offense.
Quite a few NFL coaches use basketball concepts in designing their offense. For instance, the “rub” route in football is nothing more than a pick play in basketball. One of the offense players intentionally runs into the defensive player that is guarding his teammate.
A lot of times the tight ends get open routes where they use the same technique as a big man going into the post, getting the defender on his back and reaching a hand out for the pass.
Chip Kelly is using more than a few basketball concepts in his offense. These concepts are utilized throughout high school and college basketball as well as the NBA.
When the point guard for a NBA basketball team brings the ball downcourt and holds up a number of fingers or shouts out the play, his teammates know what they’re going to try to run against the defense, initially. It may be one play, but there are numerous options to the play depending on what the defense does. This is a key concept which Kelly utilizes in his offense.
Prior to this new style of offense, which is being run by quite a few college football teams, the “check with me” or option scheme of the offense is done at the line of scrimmage by the quarterback where he decides which play to run. In Kelly’s offense, the quarterback doesn’t decide which plays he’s going to run until he’s running the play. That’s the way it is in basketball.
Many times he’ll start the play with three or four options including both run and pass. Of course the read option can be part of the play.
For the most part, the majority of NFL offenses aren’t run this way. Normally, a play is called in the huddle and most of the time, it’s the play, which is run at the line of scrimmage. Again sometimes they will run “check with me”, where the quarterback calls the play at the line of scrimmage (the way Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers do), but utilizing these options during the play is revolutionizing the NFL.
If the defense reacts a certain way, then immediately the offense counters their move. If the defense then reacts a certain way to that counter move, then the offense has another counter for the defense’s counter. Regardless of which way the defense reacts, it’s always wrong. In Kelly’s offense, the offensive players will always have counter moves to make the defense wrong every time.
You see this all the time in basketball. I’ve seen the Eagles quarterbacks decide to throw the football outside on a quick screen, but the team’s offensive line is run blocking. Most of the time the quarterback always has the option to get the ball outside to one of the wide receivers, if they see a numbers advantage or the defender playing deep enough to allow the wideout to pick up easy yardage.
A point guard in basketball might call a play, but any time he has a man advantage in a certain area, he’s going to get the ball out there and take advantage of it. You hear Kelly say all the time, take what the defense gives you.
Another basketball concept is spacing. He will spread out two receivers to each side of the formation with both sets of receivers in a stacked looked. Spreading them out in this manner puts the receivers in a two vs. two battle on each side. You see this all the time in the NBA, when a team has a good pick and roll duo. Their teammates will go to the other side of the floor, so that they force the defense to play two vs. two.
Each time the Eagles offense comes up to the ball, the quarterbacks will count how many defenders are in the box and have the option to run the ball against them. If there are five or less defenders in the box against the Eagles, the Birds are probably going to run the football. They figure that five defenders versus five offensive linemen, plus the running back, gives the Eagles a one man advantage.
Kelly has matched up these basketball concepts with the hurry up offense and the zone blocking scheme to make life very tough for NFL defensive coordinators.
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