Bruce Arians made some waves earlier in the week when he was quoted for calling Chip Kelly's offense a "college offense". The full context of the quote can be found here. Arians noted he thought the Eagles offense was great, so it's not like he was calling out Kelly in a major way. Some of his comments still seemed a little demeaning, especially in the context of the situation. Arians is an old school coach while Kelly is seen as a young innovator. Even if Arians' comments weren't intended to be disrespectful, it's clear how they could be viewed as a slight.
"I still think it's a great offense. It's a great college offense when you put a great athlete back there," said Arians. "But when you're facing great athletes, with the speed that's in the NFL who are chasing these guys, unless you're superhuman, you're going to get hurt sooner or later-not hurt, but beat up and bruised up, and you don't want your quarterback feeling bruised up when he's trying to throw and be accurate."
Kelly wouldn't take issue to these comments, though. Especially after a 24-21 Eagles win over the Cardinals on Sunday. The Eagles' "college offense" played well overall in the team's victory, especially when the opponent's tough defense is accounted for. In their last four wins, Arizona's highly rated defense was allowing a mere 15.5 points per game. The Eagles put up 24. The Cards defense was allowing 260 yards per game (206 passing, 54 rushing). The Eagles gained 307 yards (202 passing, 105 rushing).
A big part of the Eagles' offensive success was the use of their tight ends. Rookie TE Zach Ertz compiled 5 catches for 68 yards and 2 TD, while Brent Celek had 4 for 29 yards and 1 TD. They were especially effective in the Eagles' red-zone offense. James Casey (!) even made a big contribution when he drew a defensive holding call that would end up allowing the Eagles to kneel down for the win.
Kelly spoke on the decision to use the tight ends:
We thought they have some really good corners, starting with [Patrick] Peterson. So [we were] trying to get matched [them] up on some safeties and some linebackers. [I] just thought we had some plays in there to the tight ends, get [the Cardinals] in base personnel and then try to take advantage of that and those guys did. Ertz ran a great route and Nick threw it on time. The first one was a play action, and was actually ran again right at the end of the game and they held Casey to kind of get us to be able to run the clock out. Thse guys contributed and we feel like we have three [tight ends] that are talented and when the matchups present themselves, we can exploit it.
Of course, the tight ends couldn't have had succeeded without the guy throwing the ball to them. It was another great outing from newly named starting quarterback Nick Foles. Foles threw for 3 scores which gives him 19 TD and 0 INT on the season. That's only 1 TD away from Peyton Manning's record set earlier this year. Foles finished with a stat line of 21/34 (62%), 237 yards, and a 112 QB rating. He also ran for 22 yards. While Foles put together a good performance, there are certainly a few things that could have been improved upon. It looked like Foles missed some easy throws at times, and then there was the bad decision to throw an interception that was called back due to a holding penalty on Arizona. These issues are fixable moving forward. The positives definitely outweighed the negatives in this game.
Kelly was encouraged by the performance from Foles.
I think the big think for Nick is his experience in that he's still getting better and better and making really good decisions. That's why at the end of the game on third down, we're calling a pass play but it's got to be clean because you trust him because he's such a good decision maker; that you're not in there saying, hey, we've got to run it because I'm afraid he's not going to throw an incomplete pass, stop the clock, or whatever. I think each week he gets better just because he's a by-product of the experiences that he's getting out there in the game and you're starting to see him grow.
The one thing that struck that may have made the Eagles offense seem "college-y" was the play where Brad Smith lined up in what some would describe as the wildcat formation. Kelly didn't see it that way, though.
It was not a wildcat play. It's just Brad Smith plays quarterback. So let's straighten that out right now. We don't run the wildcat. It's just a play. He played quarterback; Nick played receiver because Brad's really good with the ball in his hands.
Kelly was asked "Why not Michael Vick [instead of Smith]?" to which Kelly told the media that Smith has practiced more recently than Vick. He also reiterated his confidence in Smith to handle that situation.
Aside from the disasters that took place against Dallas and the second Giants game, the Eagles offense has been playing well all year and has been a big component of the team's success. Philadelphia is averaging 31 points per game during this now-four-game win streak and have only turned the ball over once in that span. A big part of that success is none other than Chip Kelly and his offense. "College offense" or not, the bottom line is it works.
Just ask Bruce Arians.