NFL referees might put the brakes on Chip Kelly's high-octane offense with the Philadelphia Eagles this season.
Whether Kelly's fast-paced attack would work as well at the professional level as it did in college was one of the most intriguing questions heading into this season. However, NFL rules likely will force Kelly to make adjustments.
"We have to make sure teams understand that they don't control the tempo, our officials do," NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told The Wall Street Journal. "We're going through our normal ball mechanics, we aren't going to rush [unless] it's in the two minute drill."
Under Kelly, Oregon ran 1,077 plays in just 13 games last season (82.8 per game), according to ESPN Stats & Information. Amazingly, that would have ranked seventh (just two total plays behind the Eagles' 1,079) in the NFL's 16-game schedule last season. The New England Patriots led the NFL with 1,191 plays last season (74.4 per game).
Kelly wants to run a play every 12 seconds, so he gets the Eagles ready for it in practice, even having assistants calling in plays via elaborate hand signals from the sidelines. The Eagles run a ton of plays, move around quickly and don't spend much time waiting, doing nothing.
Blandino told the newspaper that he has told each team's coaching staff, however, that teams will not be able to snap the ball until a referee gives the signal. He said the NFL's competition committee made it a point to "re-emphasize" that NFL rules differ from college after several NFL teams used up-tempo attacks last season.
Blandino told the newspaper that when he met with Kelly, the coach didn't display any "overconcern" when told about the differences between NFL and college rules.
NFL rules also state that a defense must be allowed to make substitutions if the offense substitutes its own players, no matter how quickly the offense makes its changes. Blandino told The Journal that the referee will stand over the ball to ensure that it is not snapped before the defense is set.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.