When Chip Kelly began assembling the staff that would help him transition his college program to the NFL, one of the best fits seemed to QB coach Bill Lazor. He had a 7 year coaching career that had been bookended by stints in college, the most recent being offensive coordinator at the University of Virginia.
Lazor had success at the college level and his NFL resume includes stints working under some of the most successful coaches in the league including Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanhan, Joe GIbbs & Dan Reeves. So it's interesting to hear his take on a few of the facets of Chip Kelly's new offense.
One of the features of Kelly's offense is likely to be that the QBs will operate out of the shotgun often. Lazor was asked about the challenges of preparing QBs for lining up in the gun as opposed to being under center.
"I remember back when I was coaching at the University of Buffalo being nervous the second day of practice when we were putting the shotgun in," Lazor recounted. " I was just fretting the fact that the snaps would be all over the place.. Then I spent 7 years in the NFL and I went back to the University of Virginia and the first day of practice we put in under center... and we had a harder time putting in under center with all these high school QBs who had never been under center."
"It's just a matter of getting used to it, but if you're athletic and I think all of our guys are athletic and coachable so they'll get it."
Another key feature of the Eagles offense under Kelly will be the increased tempo and frequent use of the no huddle. In fact, there's a decent chance we'll never see the Eagles huddle outside of situations where they're trying to kill the clock. Lazor says he doesn't think it will be a major adjustment for his QBs because in today's NFL, it's become so common anyway.
"Well I think every NFL team runs it because a huge percentage of games you're either in a 4 minute or 2 minute offense," said Lazor. "Probably much more so than when these guys were in college. I think that in the NFL if you look at it statistically tend to be closer games. Most of the teams have a good enough QB that if you're up by 10 points it's still within reach."
"A couple NFL teams are starting to do it more on a regular basis... It's more of a natural thing now probably than it was 15 years ago. Even Matt [Barkley] coming from USC where they were more often a huddle generated team, but how many two minute drills over the course of his career at the end of practice did he run? So I don't think that's unnatural to the guys at all."
When Chip Kelly was hired, pundits spent a lot of time telling us just how innovative he is and while I don't argue that that's true, it seems as though the prevailing theme from the Eagles coaches has been that they're not doing that much that is actually new. In other words, Chip Kelly's innovation hasn't come from inventing new ways of playing football, it's come from utilizing things players are already experienced in and know how to do, in new ways.