While watching the Philadelphia Eagles the past three weeks I have had this continuous feeling of deja vu.
The track the Eagles are on, the progressions they are currently in the midst of seem eerily familiar to the race to the top of the Pac-12 that Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks made just a few short years ago.
Now, of course there are going to be plenty of differences between the two teams but we are going to focus on the parallel path of the two, the increasing similarities of these two different types of birds.
As a rule, Chip Kelly is stubborn, brash, bold, and confident. These are also some of the tenements of his coaching style. Obviously, Chip has attempted to bring his legendary tempo and pace to the NFL.
It has been a rollercoaster ride of a first year in Philly, right out of the gate it seemed as if every analyst and prognosticator that the various sports networks could drum up had intense mancrush's on Chip. Then came the critical comments as the Eagles sputtered under the leadership of Michael Vick.
Through it all, Chip remained the same and continued teaching his unique brand of football. Now, with Nick Foles under center we are finally seeing the fruits of those labors, understanding the importance of those teachings.
At Oregon, Chip engineered a break-neck fast paced offense and a bend but dont break defense. Now, in Philly we are starting to see that tempo on offense and that same type of stingy near the red zone defense.
Chip is not concerened with petty stats like time of possesion and implores his defense to not worry about yards given up but to focus on not giving up points. Eagles defensive coordinater Bill Davis was qouted saying "Its a scoreboard not a yardsboard".
On offense, the Eagles employ a very similar offense as the Ducks did under Kelly's tutelage. At Oregon, contrary to popular belief Kelly based the entire offense on the run game. The read-option specifically.
In Philly, Chip still runs the ball a ton but seems to want to drive the ball downfield a bit more. The basic fundementals are still the same, Kelly wants to get the ball to his playmakers in space for them to make plays.
He wants to run more plays than the team opposing his and run them faster. Chip wants his receivers to block downfield like their hair is on fire. Basically, Chip wants to attack from the beginning of the game to the end and we can see that its starting to work at the NFL level just like it did in college.
On defense, Kelly is going to substitute more than any other coach in the NFL. He understands that his offense is not going to possess the ball for long periods of time giving the defense time to rest. The Eagles' defense, just like the Ducks' defense before them will give up lots of yards but will limit the amount of points the opposition scores.
At Oregon, Chip Kelly's last year he had Marcus Mariota playing quarterback, a player virtually taylor made to run Kelly's offense. Mariota has amazing speed, a calm presence in the pocket, a quick release, and a laser of an arm.
In Philly, Nick Foles is the current starting quarterback. Foles doesn't have the amazing speed of Mariota nor the quick release but he makes up for that with size, understanding, accuracy, and anticipation. While Foles may not have been Kelly's first choice to pilot his offense he is certainly taking advantage of his opportunity and demanding respect.
LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner were the primary ball carriers for Chip at Oregon while its LeSean McCoy with the Eagles. All three backs are very similar in size and running style. They can all best be described using the words elusivness and explosion, in the open field each one is a nightmare to take down.
During Chip's tenure at Oregon he didn't have a bunch of big-time NFL type recievers, what he did have was players who bought in to the system and knew their role.
DeAnthony Thomas was used at receiver a lot and one can certainly see the similarities between him and DeSean Jackson, the No. 1 reciever in Philadelphia. They are both built slight but are extremely sudden and have exceptional speed.
In closing, I would like to offer some advice to the Philadelphia media and fans. A place with a not so hospitable reputation, I mean they booed santa and drove Donovan McNabb out of town after giving them a decade of unprecedented success.
Please, I beg of you, believe in Chip Kelly. You may not understand all of the decisions he is going to make but they are going to be for the right reasons and most of them are going to work out.
Expect the unexpected, even if Foles continues to tear it up and progress the way he is now, don't be suprised if in the draft next year Chip Kelly takes a quarterback early. Marcus Mariota would sure look nice in Eagles green. Sometimes, birds of a different feather flock together to make sweet sweet music.