Stanford head coach David Shaw isn’t shy about praising the coaches who helped get him to where he is. You’ll often hear him talk about Jon Gruden, Bill Walsh or Dennis Green as major influences. But one who you might not know about is ... wait for it ... Chip Kelly.
“I think most coaches will say the best coaches on the planet are great thieves,” Shaw said. “We’ve stolen ideas from everybody. You know, I’ve stolen more from Chip Kelly than anybody else because I think Chip is brilliant. I think there’s things he does in his offense that I think are phenomenal, so there are aspects of our game that when you watch our game, you might go, ooh, wow, that looks like something Oregon did.”
Shaw recently said the former Oregon coach, now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, has been a big influence on his program on and off the field. He’s taken schemes Kelly ran in college and the NFL and even adapted Kelly’s practice schedule.
“This past year I had long conversations with Chip Kelly,” Shaw said. “We changed our entire practice schedule for the week ... I talked to Chip and I’m like, 'You know what, we’re just going to do it. We’re going to change it. This is a better way of doing it.' It was great for us.”
Kelly and Shaw’s team sparred for the Pac-12 title each of the three seasons they were head coaches together in the league -- though Shaw said he’s been studying Kelly’s approach before he was a head coach. The Ducks won the Pac-12 crown in 2011, before Stanford stormed back to win it 2012 and 2013.
“I think being willing to change, being willing to grow and being willing to ask questions of other people -- I don’t think everybody understands about the football fraternity because all you think about is rivalries and I’ve got to beat those guys,” Shaw said. “There’s a lot of great conversations that happen among coaches about how you do you guys practice, what do you guys do, how long do you practice, how much nine-on-seven do you do, how much team do you do, how long are your periods? We’re also probing ourselves to see how we can be better to help our guys show up on game day and perform.”
Back in December, coachingsearch.com singled out a specific play design Stanford ripped straight from the Philadelphia Eagles’ playbook and noted how the Cardinal adapted it to running back Christian McCaffrey.
Kelly isn’t the only new influence. Shaw said they study a lot of NFL film and have even incorporated some of what Washington State does. Just don’t expect the “Tree Raid” offense anytime soon.
“Not everything fits our world,” Shaw said. “But we’re always looking for different things ... I think every coach needs to challenge themselves, but then also challenge their team and give the guys as they walk in, they don’t want to see the exact playbook every single day. You’ve got to juice them up a little bit and give them some new things to think about and see if they can perfect.”