Kelly clinic: Ignore time of possession

PHILADELPHIA -- Chip Kelly has his own way of doing things. That much is obvious already. One interesting side-effect of that is his total disdain for long-accepted football wisdom.

Case in point: time of possession. For decades, it has been considered a pretty good stat for gauging which team controlled the ball and therefore a game. To Kelly, it is completely meaningless.

“It’s about plays run,” Kelly said Thursday morning. “I’ve heard the question about time of possession, but time of possession is how much time can the other teams waste. Most games, we lose the time of possession but it’s how many snaps do you face? In both games we’ve played, we played more snaps than the other team.”

That’s undeniable. The Eagles ran 86 offensive plays against New England in their preseason debut. The Patriots, who embrace Kelly’s uptempo approach, ran 72. Against Carolina last week, the Eagles ran 69 plays while the Panthers ran 58.

Kelly brought up a 2010 game between his Oregon Ducks and UCLA. The time of possession was incredibly lopsided: UCLA 38:31, Oregon 21:29. The final score was even more lopsided: Oregon 60, UCLA 13.

“All I gathered was that they stand around a lot more than we do,” Kelly said. “You’re not exerting any energy if you’re just standing in the huddle.”

The Ducks had first-quarter touchdown drives that lasted 1:56 and 2:34. They punted just once. They had three scoring drives that last less than a minute (two of those after turnovers left them a short field).

This is all relevant to what Kelly wants to do here for a number of reasons. Among the less obvious is the concern that the Eagles defense will be worn down by being on the field too long. If the offense moves quickly and either scores or punts, the defense could be out there for long stretches with short breaks.

“If teams are getting 80 snaps against our defense and we’re getting 50 snaps, then it’s an issue,” Kelly said. “We’ll just have to teach our defense how to stand around better.”