New Birds Adjusting To Up-Tempo Offense
The Philadelphia Eagles learned a new offense under new Head Coach Chip Kelly last season and emerged as one of the top offenses in the league. Kelly is looking for even more success in his second season.
Most of the offense is back with some key additions. Running Back Darren Sproles is a 10-year veteran trying to understand a new playbook. Wide Receiver Jordan Matthews, a second round draft pick, is also trying to grasp a new offense.
“The tempo is great because it gets the defense guessing,” Sproles stated. “You have to get used to it. If you are new to it you have to get your body used to going that fast all the time.”
“I have definitely gotten way more comfortable with the playbook and everything trying to learn it and master it,” Matthews said.
Matthews has good size, speed and solid hands. He is also humble and realizes he cannot afford to get comfortable too quickly.
“I think there is always some room for improvement,” Matthews insisted. “The second you think you made it, you are back to square one. I am just trying to learn each day and trying to get better.”
Kelly likes to move fast. When one play ends, he wants the offense lined up as fast as possible to run the next play. It is all in an effort to create mismatches that favor the offense without the defense able to substitute.
Players must line up quickly and all be on the same page regarding the play they are supposed to run.
“They have figured it out,” Sproles said of players that are used to the system. “When we are running back to the line of scrimmage they are already looking back to the sideline. That is what I have got to learn. As soon as the play is over I have to get my eyes to the sideline.”
Kelly has the luxury of beginning this season with a dedicated starting quarterback. Nick Foles opened the 2013 season backing up Michael Vick. Foles took over when Vick got hurt and went on to have a remarkable season. He led the NFL in QB rating (119.1), yards per pass attempt (9.1) and touchdown percentage (8.5). Foles was also named the Pro Bowl MVP.
Day one of training camp revealed a fast pace of practice. It also revealed Foles has the full faith and trust of his Head Coach and his teammates.
“He had an outstanding season last year that everybody was excited about,” Kelly said. “But, he knows as an individual he can still get better.”
“The way he has come out here to practice, he is leading us,” Sproles stated. “This is his ship.”
It is a ship that is expected to sail into waters neither Foles nor Kelly have sailed in before.
(Keep up with the latest on the Eagles by following Scott Grayson on twitter @SGrayson973)