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Chip Kelly and our evolving offense

I take a look at David Shaw's recent comments about the Kelly offense.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

At first glance, our offense and the Philadelphia Eagle's offense are incredibly different. They spread their players out all over the field; we forgot that WRs existed for about three seasons. They have speedy receivers running around downfield, catching bombs; we just figured out that you are allowed to throw farther than 20 yards downfield. They literally use sign language, for Pete's sake! Not that sign language. This sign language. We can't get a basic play in without the threat of a delay of game. Heck, if you could get a delay of game on defense, I'm sure we would have gotten one by now.[1]

But, recent comments from David Shaw, the Stanford coach, shows that this isn't necessarily true. Shaw claims, "Their mentality at Oregon -- and now at Philadelphia -- was really not that different than our mentality [at Stanford], which is to run the ball and use whatever people are trying to do to take away the run to add to our passing game."

This, well, seems totally true. I always wondered how LeSean McCoy was putting up monster numbers in Philadelphia, given my misconceptions about a Kelly offense. For people like me, who don't watch a ton of college football, I think the assumption about what is a "Kelly offense" includes the notion that RBs only catch screen passes. Or, occasionally, they might run a sweep off tackle.

But, it's becoming clear that this isn't true. And, I think, this might help us understand our evolving offense; it might also help us understand why getting away from the ground game can be dangerous. This last week, there was some discussion about Frank Gore's role in the Arizona Cardinals game. Part of the issue for the current offensive staff is balancing the talent on this team. We can go five wide with no backs, now. It's effective even. And I don't think it's the wrong decision. But, it might be helpful for this offensive staff to look toward other "spread" offenses to see how they might better understand the interplay between running the ball and passing it. We might change the formations and looks that we use - it really doesn't matter that much, in fact, so long as we have the personnel to do it. But, what really matters is that the core philosophy of this offense stays the same: run to set up the pass.

Yes, I know it exists. Don't ruin the joke.