PHILADELPHIA -- Since he was introduced as head coach of the Eagles, Chip Kelly has described himself as an “equal opportunity scorer.”
“If we've got to throw it to get it in, if we've got to run it to get it in, we'll run it to get it in,” Kelly said. “I don't think a touchdown looks different no matter how you get them, whether it's Nick Foles on a half yard quarterback sneak or it's Nick throwing a bomb to DeSean (Jackson). I've never been that way.”
Kelly’s description extends beyond merely relying on the run or the pass. He also seems perfectly content to coach the players available to him and get the most out of them. Where some coaches take a job and gradually implement their system as they acquire their style of players, Kelly went right to work with the roster he inherited and one offseason’s worth of draft and free agency acquisitions.
If Foles is playing quarterback, Kelly runs his offense with a slight emphasis on the plays the Foles feels most comfortable running. If Michael Vick is behind center, Kelly veers slightly in Vick’s direction. He has the speedy DeSean Jackson, so he throws deep. He has running back LeSean McCoy, so he turns his tight ends and wide receivers into downfield blockers and unleashes McCoy.
The results speak loudly for themselves: The Eagles have had Foles throw for an NFL-record seven touchdowns in a game and they’ve had McCoy run for a franchise record 217 yards. They have had games in which their wide receivers caught four touchdowns and games in which their tight ends caught three.
The Eagles have topped 500 total yards twice and been over 400 in seven others. McCoy leads the league in rushing. Foles leads the league in passer rating. Jackson is 10th in receiving yardage. The Eagles are No. 1 in the NFL in plays over 40 yards and No. 1 in plays over 20 yards.
Equal opportunity, indeed.
One theory: As a college coach, Kelly couldn’t draft or target free agents to build his teams. He had to rely on the whims of high school players to choose Oregon over other programs. He heavily recruited Terrelle Pryor, for example, who chose Ohio State. Kelly shrugged and built his offense around Dennis Dixon and Jeremiah Masoli over the next two seasons.
The intrigue about an innovative and successful college coach moving to the NFL centered on whether Kelly could run his offense at the next level. But it turns out his offense is whatever he thinks will work best based on the personnel he has.
“We're a what-do-we-have-to-do-to-win-this-week (offense),” Kelly said, “and that's always our focus every single week as an offensive staff -- try to put a plan together that our players can execute and then they go out and execute it.”