Chip Kelly: Building the Eagles Identity
All great teams in any sport all have one thing: An identity. The 1990 Detroit Pistons indulged in the “Bad Boys” mentality and got in their opponents heads by being tougher physically and mentally. The 2000 St. Louis Rams were the “Greatest Show on Turf” and had the mentality of beating you with a very precise aerial attack mixed in with a perfect blend of running. Even last year, the Dallas Cowboys found their identity by running the ball down their opponents’ throats and keeping their defense on the sideline.
When you look at the two teams that currently sit at the top of the NFC, you see two different teams who dominate in two different ways. The Seattle Seahawks are led by their dominating defense and their punishing running attack. The Green Bay Packers are lead by Aaron Rodgers and a lethal passing attack with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson on the outside. The Seahawks want to hold you to fewer points then them and the Packers want to outscore you. See the difference?
The Eagles? They’re still trying to find their identity. Chip Kelly has an idea of what he wants and this offseason he’s not been scared to make moves to shape the roster exactly how he visions it. Why trade a pro bowl caliber running back in LeSean McCoy and replace him with another pro bowl caliber back in Demarco Murray? Some say money was the motive, and although it played its part I’d say fit played a bigger roleeardefense last year was the secondary which ranked 28th in yards allowed per game. The Eagles went out and signed highly coveted DB coach Cory Undlin from Denver in the offseason, along with signing Byron Maxwell to a large free agent deal. They also traded away LeSean McCoy for ILB Kiko Alonso.
What’s it all mean? The Eagles want to bully you on the defensive side of the ball. Expect a very aggressive press-man scheme where the corners will be in the wide receivers’ face all game long. The Eagles have been preaching about pressing all offseason, something they simply couldn’t do with Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams as their corners.
While Head Coach at Oregon, Chip Kelly’s offense averaged 283 rushing yards a game over 4 years. College is a little easier to inflate stats, but the point is Chip Kelly wants to get back to a ground and pound running attack that wears out defenses. In 2014, Eagles QB’s averaged nearly 39 pass attempts a game. I can promise you he’s not happy with that number as he wants it around 25-30 a game.
What about the defense? The number one issue with the defense last year was the secondary which ranked 28th in yards allowed per game. The Eagles went out and signed highly coveted DB coach Cory Undlin from Denver in the offseason, along with signing Byron Maxwell to a large free agent deal. They also traded away LeSean McCoy for ILB Kiko Alonso.
With a linebacking core of Brandon Graham, Mychal Kendricks, Kiko Alonso and Connor Barwin, and a defensive line group of Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan and Cederic Thornton, the Eagles should be able to generate pressure and allow the secondary to get physical.
Will it all pay off? That remains to be seen, but what Eagles fans should be excited about is that a plan is in place. Trades and signings weren’t made just because. Chip Kelly has a reason for every single move he’s made as he tries to fit all the pieces together and form something special. A special identity that could push the Eagles into the conversation with Green Bay and Seattle as a top team in the NFC.