[Ed. Note: Promoted from the FanPosts.]
The Tao of Chip Kelly by Mark Saltveit is an essential book for all Philadelphia Eagles fans. I think it should be a rule to read this book before even commenting on BGN. To me this Eagles offseason has been the first real large test in who (as fans) believe in the Chip Kelly mantra. We released our star WR and he promptly jumped aboard our division rivals. We also had a fairly interesting draft with some head scratching picks. Don't get me wrong though, I'm totally on board the "Chip Ship." However, there have been some Eagles fans both on this site and elsewhere who have started to question Chip Kelly and his new ways. If you are one of those fans who are having doubts about "Big Balls" Chip (or just a fan just passing time in a cubicle somewhere), then this article is for you, because I'm going to use Mr. Saltveit's amazing book in order to help explain this offseason.
[Bonus Drinking Game: Every time you see the word versatile you take a shot.]
The Release of DeSean Jackson
As an Eagles fan I've had three major traumatic experiences:
- The loss to the Pats in the Superbowl
- The back to back loses to the Cowboys in the 2009 season
- The release of DeSean Jackson
Some of you may disagree with that third point, but to me Djax was always my favorite player. I loved his speed and cocky attitude. I loved how he zoomed past Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins defensive players. I especially loved that walk-off punt return in MMII. However, I came here to bury Djax not to praise him. Let's call a spade a spade and admit that DeSean was a me-first player who really cared about the $$$. Yes I know he did some nice things for the community, but after the 2011 season where he decided to half-ass everything I saw DeSean for he really was. And while I cheered for his performance last season, a part of me was saying "F**k that guy." The writing was on the wall for DeSean's release after Chip Kelly was hired. Why? Because Chip Kelly hates hates HATES me-first players. As Chip says:
If you come here, you'd better enjoy the process. It's not an end-result game. And if it is, then maybe this isn't the place for you.
Now while Djax was not Nnamdi eating his lunch in a car bad, he still only cared about himself and that does not fly on Chip Kelly's team. Now the question is, who is going to replace him?
The Two J's
(shoutout to pot*)
When looking for wide receivers, Chip Kelly is looking for two main characteristics: Versatility and Blocking. Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff fit both characteristics to a tee. Jordan Matthews can be Chip Kelly's dream wide receiver. Apparently he's already our dream wide receiver too with 96% of BGNers approving the pick (AndersJ** represents the 4%.) Jordan Matthews is the complete opposite of DeSean Jackson. Matthews is selfless (Example here), well spoken, and incredibly passionate about the game of football, as evident by him studying film before meeting the Eagles. As mentioned in many scouting reports Matthews is an extremely willing blocker (example: here and here). As Mr. Saltveit rightfully says in his book:
Traditional NFL offenses line up two, three, or four receivers, and if the ball isn't thrown to them, they just slow down and return to the huddle. That's as many as four of your eleven, unproductive on every running play.
Chip Kelly hates inefficiency almost as much as he hates selfish players. Therefore he wants his players involved and contributing in every play. Josh Huff also really fits, if not more so, as a Chip Kelly wide receiver. He is extremely versatile as he played the TAZR role at Oregon. The TAZR role means that the receiver can line up either as a receiver or stay in the backfield. By having a TAZR, Chip Kelly can "freeze a guy in motion" when the Eagles are running their routes. A GIF of Huff in action can be seen here.
It is also no secret that Josh Huff is a tremendous and fierce blocker. He also faces contact head on and it's not uncommon to see him drag defenders into the endzone like he did in Colorado. While it remains to be seen that he can be this productive in the NFL, he is someone I'll definitely be watching come gameday.
"Players, Not Positions"
As I mentioned before, Chip Kelly very much values versatility. He wants, as Mr. Saltveit says, "Players not positions." Chip elaborates this further:
We call 'em 'Jokers.' Cause jokers are good with any suit, any deck. It can be any card for you
This concept could be used to explain the Marcus Smith and Jaylen Watkins picks. Granted, both picks filled an immediate on the team, but they also follow the Chip Kelly mantra. Marcus Smith, for instance, can play every position on defensive line (possibly even QB***). BGN user JLDawk mentions in his very interesting article that Smith "rushed from a 2 point stance 53% of the time, and rushed from a 3 point stance 47% of the time." Though Smith will most likely just play at OLB for the most part, there is a chance during a game you could see him lining up somewhere else.
Jaylen Watkins is the definition of versatile, as he has the ability to play both corner and safety. This fits both needs for the Eagles. However, we will have to wait until OTA's to see where he will actually plays. Jaylen himself says he's "more comfortable at corner." Honestly, I rather him develop at corner since we drafted Ed Reynolds as safety already.
As you hopefully realized by now Chip Kelly runs a lot of offensive plays in short period of time. This means that the defense is on the field for the majority of the time. This also means that the Eagles give up a lot of yards. Luckily you don't get points based on how well you move the football, you get points by scoring. This obviously means that you need to have a strong red-zone defense. According to Mr. Saltveit, during Chip Kelly's last year at Oregon, the Ducks red zone defense was ninth best in the country (only 69.39% success for opposing offenses). The Eagles red zone defense in 2013 was 50.94%**** good for 14th in the NFL (Source). The addition of Taylor Hart and Beau Allen also helps the Eagles in this respect..
Taylor Hart (another versatile defensive linemen), is particularly known for his ability to collapsing the pocket (source here and here). He also has shown good awareness as shown here. This is helpful when it comes to red zone defense, especially in short yardage situations which can be seen here. Hart obviously has some issues on tape, but I feel that he does have some upside and can be a solid player if he can bulk up more. On the other hand, Beau Allen definitely has the size (6'2 333lbs) to be a force for the Eagles' red zone defense. He is more of a run stuffer than can also really help in short yard situations. He lacks speed and awareness though and as a seventh round pick he has to work hard in order to make a contribution.
Turnovers... Not the Delicious Kind
The final point I would like to make is that Chip demands a defense that creates turnovers. Turnovers are an important part to any game because they change momentum instantly. According to Mr. Saltveit:
The Ducks led the nation with 131 takeaways during 2009-2012.
The Eagles last year were third (!) in takeaways last year averaging 1.9 turnovers per game. That is a complete 180 from the 2012 season where the Eagles were dead last averaging 0.8 turnovers per game (source). By drafting Ed Reynolds, the Eagles were most likely trying to fill a need at safety. However, Chip Kelly might be hoping that Ed Reynolds can go back to his 2012 form where he had six interceptions with three being returned for touchdowns. While Ed Reynolds is fairly good in coverage, he can be a poor tackler and was often beat last year. It should be also noted that he's another versatile player who played safety, running back, and kick returner in Stanford (source). While he does have good upside, it may be too much to hope that he can be the next Dawkins*****.
After reading the Tao of Chip Kelly, I'm even more excited about the future of the Philadelphia Eagles. Chip Kelly is exceptionally smart, creative ,and has already started turning this team around. He is building a brand new culture here that players and fans can feel proud to support. I am looking forward to many seasons (as well as many rings) under the Chip Kelly regime.
*The BGN user not the drug
** I'm just messing man. Nothing but respect for you.
*** That's a joke, but he initially was a QB before coming to Louisville
****TDs allowed only.
***** Yes that's another joke