PHILADELPHIA -- Tempo is important to Chip Kelly, but that doesn't mean the Philadelphia Eagles coach is obsessed with going fast all the time.
The image of Kelly as a mad scientist bringing radical new ideas into the NFL was hard to shake. When the Eagles ran rampant all over Washington in their Monday night season-opener, that image became indelible.
Is it accurate? No less an authority than Kelly says no.
"That's never been a goal," Kelly said. "Our goal is to win on Sundays. Part of our goal is to be a really good four-minute offense like we were against Green Bay. I think that's where there is a misconception. They say, well they didn't run X amount of plays so they're not running the offense they want to run. I don't care if we run 50 plays to win a game or does it take 100 plays to win a game?"
In Green Bay last November, the Eagles had a 27-13 lead when they got the ball with 9 minutes, 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Eagles ran off the rest of the time remaining in a 15-play drive that was a long way from uptempo.
"Part of winning the game is managing the lead when you're in the second half of the game and you have a three touchdown lead," Kelly said. "You don't want to run plays at 15 seconds a clip because you're putting their offense back on the field. That's the point I've always tried to make and I don't know why it doesn't resonate -- (Oregon) never led the country in offensive plays nor did I ever care to lead the country in offensive plays.
"We never even looked at that statistic. We're always, how many points per possession, how many points can we score in a game and is it enough?"
The Eagles ran 58 plays in Green Bay that day. The Packers ran 75. The next week, against Washington at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles ran 62 plays. Washington ran 77. The Eagles had a 24-0 lead after three quarters, but were unable to control the ball the way they had in Green Bay. Washington closed to within 24-16 before the game was over.
For the season, the Eagles ran 1,054 offensive plays. Their opponents ran 1,150 offensive plays. The Eagles won 10 games and lost six.
Kelly would like to do better when it comes to wins and losses. He's not nearly as concerned about running more plays than the other guys do.
"It's not as important as I think people make it out to be," Kelly said. "That's what I'm saying. I think it's just a tool in the toolbox."
The other reason for the image is the way Kelly practices. There, he really is trying to run more plays than the average coach. That allows him to create more reps in the allotted practice time, which means players get more work and coaches get more tape to evaluate.
"That's what we stand for from a practice standpoint," Kelly said. "Games are different because sometimes you don't control what goes on in a game. But I think if someone watched us go out on the practice field, I think you're going to say we practice pretty fast.
"That's part of what we do. And if you ask our players if we practice hard, yeah, we practice hard. And we emphasize and coach constantly off of tape on the finishing aspect of things. That part hasn't changed, our vision of how the game is supposed to be played."