It’s not easy to upstage Robert Griffin III in his first game since The Knee Surgery Drama that Shook the Modern World, but that’s just what Chip Kelly did Monday night.
Finally, everyone saw just what the architect of Oregon’s fast-paced offense would and could do in the NFL. It was … breathtaking.
“I like the way we dictate the pace of the game,” Michael Vick said (via the NFL Network) after the Philadelphia Eagles’ 33-27 victory over the Washington Redskins. “I understand the system and I like what we’re doing. It’s fast, and we’re keeping everybody off-balance.”
Vick, it turns out, wasn’t exaggerating terribly when he promised “something like you’ve never seen before.” The Eagles, with their coach pacing the sidelines like he was racing Usain Bolt, ran 53 first-half plays…more than some teams ran in entire games in Week 1.
“We don’t count plays; that’s not part of our deal,” Kelly said. “It was a bizarre first half … they score and their offense hasn’t been on the field. The thing you’ve got to count is points, and our defense did a great job for us.”
It was just like Kelly designed it and it made for a transition from college to the pros that was more Jimmy Johnson than, say, Pete Carroll with the Jets. There were 21 first downs in the first half, the same number of plays the Redskins ran. On their first five plays, the Eagles had 19.5 seconds between plays (via Philly.com’s Zach Berman). Vick finished with 209 yards passing and two touchdown passes; he ran for another. LeSean McCoy had more yards (112; Terrelle Pryor’s game total) at the half than any running back Sunday, finishing with 184 and a touchdown. The Eagles ran the ball 49 times — more than at any time during Andy Reid’s years with the team.
By the second half, Kelly’s sideline pace and that of his offense had slowed considerably, but that didn’t detract from the eye-popping first half. Now the Eagles have to keep it up.
“I’m tired just watching how fast the Eagles are snapping the ball!!” Michael Strahan, who knows about defenses, tweeted. “This tempo is crazy if they can sustain the entire game is the question!”
What about an entire season? One thing is certain. It probably isn’t going away. “It’s what I hoped it would feel like,” Kelly said. “I don’t think it’s a bag of tricks. It’s just football. And like any staff, no matter who you hire, you’re always trying to get formations that are favorable to us.”