ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When quizzed this week about how they have prepared for their first in-person look at Chip Kelly’s offense, the Broncos coaches have said, at least publicly, they’ve looked only at what the Eagles have done in this season’s early stages.
Forget about looking at what Oregon did during Kelly’s time at the school to compare how much things do, or don’t, look the same in Philadelphia's offense. Having a short work week after playing on Monday night, the Denver coaches don't have much time for that.
But what the Chiefs did last week in a 26-16 win over the Eagles looked, at least in a general sense, a lot like what Stanford did last season in a 17-14 victory over Kelly’s then-No. 1 Oregon team. The Chiefs consistently won the middle of the line of scrimmage, with nose tackle Dontari Poe's top-notch work. Kansas City also matched up largely in man coverage on the Eagles wide receivers, and the Chiefs' safeties and linebackers repeatedly tackled well to limit the catch-and-run opportunities.
For the Broncos to have a similar blueprint Sunday, defensive tackles Kevin Vickerson and Terrance Knighton must control the issue on the inside. When the Eagles turned a big play against the Chiefs -- quarterback Michael Vick had a 61-yard run and LeSean McCoy had a 41-yard run -- it was often because they got Poe pushed out of the middle.
Poe's work was even more important when the Chiefs used a look that included just two defensive linemen at times against the Eagles' three-wide set. The Broncos will likely use a variety of specialty packages as well.
But no matter how they dial it up, the Broncos are going to need Vickerson and Knighton to win the day against the middle of the Eagles line that includes center Jason Kelce and guards Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis.