Kelly Vs. Coughlin Could be Must See TV

Chip Kelly as the new coach of the Philadelphia Eagles is more than interesting. In certain ways, Kelly is like the Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, but not in ways you might expect.

In young guns like Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, you have three NFL QBs who may be ideally suited for Kelly’s system. But none of them are Eagles. Michael Vick however is, at least temporarily. Nick Foles is the other option for the Eagles, but either way, both are mobile.


But it doesn’t matter to Kelly. Grantland’s Chris Brown quoted Kelly in an article called “The New Old School”, saying,

“I look for a quarterback who can run and not a running back who can throw. I want a quarterback who can beat you with his arm,” Kelly explained at a coaches clinic in the spring of 2011, emphatically adding, “We are not a Tim Tebow type of quarterback team. I am not going to run my quarterback 20 times on power runs.”


Kelly’s Oregon Ducks’ no-huddle, hurry-up offense produced videogame-like results for Oregon. Over 54 points a game, but that was college. Can it do the same in the pros?


He runs his offense out of the shotgun formation, utilizing a lot of  play action, read option, dive, and inside / outside zone plays, but it’s not always hurry-up.


Again from the Grantland article,

The Ducks use plenty of their superfast tempo, but they actually have three settings: red light (slow, quarterback looks to sideline for guidance while the coach can signal in a new play), yellow light (medium speed, quarterback calls the play and can make his own audibles at the line, including various check-with-me plays), and green light (superfast).

He trains his QBs to read the defenders by simply using mathematics.

If there are two high safeties [i.e., players responsible for deep pass defense], mathematically there can only be five defenders in the box. With one high safety, there can be six in the box. If there is no high safety, there can be seven in the box,” Kelly explained at the 2011 spring Nike Coach of the Year Clinic. The easiest case is if the defense plays with two deep defenders: “With two high safeties, we should run the ball most of the time. We have five blockers and they have five defenders.

Chip Kelly’s collegiate offense relied on the opponent making mental errors and becoming physically exhausted. The way the Stanford Cardinals beat his Oregon team was by not making mistakes, and being able to keep up with the Ducks.


In the pros, we’ve seen many teams getting worn down quickly by the no-huddle offense. I remember seeing the Giants fake (or not fake) injuries, just to slow down the tempo of the game and get teammates a breather. This would indicate that the no-huddle can be extremely effective, but no team has made it their main bread-and-butter.


And Kelly won’t do it either. Kelly watches the opposition. When they are ready for the no-huddle, he slows it down. Then, when that pace has been set, he then surprises the defense with the hurry-up and vice-versa. He changes the pace based upon what the defense expects.


Regardless though, I think Kelly is smart enough to mold his offense around his personnel, rather than vice-versa, just as I wrote before last season withMike Shanahan’s system and RGIII.


But what’s most interesting to me is how Kelly runs his practices like Pavlov’s dog experiments. He doesn’t teach in practices, leaving the teaching to the film room. Instead he focuses on repetition, over and over again, in a “no time to think”, reactive, repetitive atmosphere where players are thrown one play after another in succession. Kelly’s theory seems to be to condition players to naturally think a certain way – the way he wants them to think.


I’m a firm believer in repetition becoming ingrained, so this makes sense to me. Humans are not that different than their best friends. We can train ourselves to think in certain ways. Many times this is negative, as in, “why me”?, but it can also be positive, as in visualizing success, and “fake it till you make it”. If you think it enough, you eventually believe it. And success breeds success, doesn’t it?


Correct me if I’m wrong but it’s rare to make this a full-time practice technique. I’ve experienced this myself with coaches drills from time to time, but never to this degree.


It’s a bit of brain-washing, but all for a good cause. For an athlete, too much thinking can be lethal, and Kelly seems to have an ingenious antidote.


I can’t wait to see the first matchup of two different versions of discipline — Kelly vs. Coughlin. Coughlin stresses discipline by teaching and reasoning, Kelly by conditioning. Two psychological methodologies against each other. What’s not to like?


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