Published September 11, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – Turns out the reinvention of that wheel was pretty darn impressive.
Chip Kelly is about to drag the NFL -- kicking and screaming -- into the year 2013.
The first-year Philadelphia Eagles coach finally unleashed his up-tempo attack on Monday and the result was a two-time Super Bowl-winning coach with a very impressive Kickoff Weekend resume (15-4) looking like Roberto Duran after taking a humiliating bolo punch from Sugar Ray Leonard.
LeSean McCoy rushed for 184 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries, while Michael Vick accounted for three touchdowns, as the Birds spoiled the return of quarterback Robert Griffin III with a 33-27 triumph over the reigning NFC East champion Washington Redskins.
"I had a lot of fun tonight and I think our guys had a lot of fun," Kelly said of his debut. "But you're always going to say that when you win."
Philadelphia built a 26-7 lead at halftime, totaling 322 yards on 53 plays, the most repetitions by an NFL team in the first half of a contest since the 1998 Minnesota Vikings -- one of the greatest offensive teams of all-time -- got off 58.
McCoy took over the NFL's Week 1 rushing lead by the end of the first 30 minutes, scampering for 115 yards, and the 26 total points the Eagles scored was a number they topped only once in 2012 under Andy Reid.
It should have been even worse, save for an awful fumble ruling on the opening drive of the game which resulted in Washington's lone TD.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan took two 10-second runoffs in the final minute of the heart-stopping first half just to get out of FedEx Field for a moment and collect his thoughts. The only thing missing was the white flag or the orange- tinted mentor himself uttering "No Mas."
"I think it was the tempo -- we were going, going, going, sometimes as fast as we can go," Eagles tight end Brent Celek said. "That is good; it was good to get that going, a big part of our offense. It was tough on them."
Kelly's playbook featured exotic formations and plenty of misdirection. It made average players like Riley Cooper into solid contributors, and rejuvenated worn-down veterans like Celek and DeSean Jackson.
"I don't think it was a bag of tricks, I think it's just football," Kelly said. "And like any staff, no matter who you are, you're always trying to get formations up to be friendly to you and try to get you some friendly looks where you can do what you want to do."
The one caution flag for the Eagles was raised in the second half when the madness to Kelly's method came to fruition. Philadelphia was gassed, too, and RG3, playing his first game since knee surgery, started trusting his repaired limb. The potential 'Skins comeback came up short, however.
"I think you always have fatigue in the fourth quarter, no matter what team you're on. You've played a game," Kelly said on Tuesday. "So in the fourth quarter, you're not going to be as fresh as you were in the first quarter. The biggest thing is not to be as fatigued as the team you're playing against."
What most people around the NFL don't get is Kelly is playing a game of three- card Monte with the strange formations and eclectic play calls. That's the window dressing designed to distract from the real formula to his success as an offensive coach, the speed in which his teams play.
"I don't think you can get too much faster than that," Vick said. "I have never been in anything like it. When the first quarter was over, I thought we were going into halftime. It was unreal. The only thing I could tell myself was it's going to be a long season."
NFL players -- at least the ones who didn't play under Kelly at Oregon or at a few other up-tempo programs -- have been learning to play at one pace forever. Run a play, huddle and then do it again.
It's an old-school formula rooted in the considerable egos of most coaches. The scheme and the system are treated like some kind of Holy Grail by people caught up in hubris. And those mentors haven't noticed the rapid changes to the game going on around them.
It's almost the polar opposite of what is going on in basketball, where the college game is the one rooted in ego with an overly structured framework designed to make the coaches bigger than the game in an effort to skew their importance.
Defenders are handcuffed in today's NFL. Nearly every rule change of the past decade benefits the offense and, whether you like it or not, defensive players are getting penalized 15 yards for every Lavonte David-like love tap.
Meanwhile, when you run a no-huddle and do not substitute, that means the defense can't either, a major problem for defensive coordinators who have been rotating in linemen for years in an effort to keep their pass rushers fresh for the fourth quarter of games.
There's only a handful of D-lineman left around the NFL with the conditioning to handle 65 or 70 snaps in a game, never mind the 80, 90 or more Kelly is shooting for.
"I felt like (the tempo) was slow, to be honest with you," Kelly said as reporters laughed.
He was deadly serious, though.
"I'm not joking. We've got to do a better job. We left the ball on the ground too much. We didn't get the ball to the officials. We could have sped things up from a process between plays. That's something we need to continue to work on."
The shift to this brand of football isn't something I like and it's something coaches like Shanahan no doubt disdain, but ignoring it isn't going to make the problem go away.
Kelly is acknowledging what's going on around him and adapting. He's the guy with the WIFI-enabled smart TV which has Netflix and Hulu Plus, while Shanahan is searching for the fourth season of "Seinfeld" at his local flea market to put in his VCR.
"(It was) kind of what we thought. It was what they've done before in the past," Shanahan said when asked about the Eagles offense. "They out-executed us."
Done in the past?
Old school hyperbole by a relic who is just incapable of understanding what happened to him or his team.
Shanahan remains a great coach when compared to others who subscribe to his philosophies. To those who don't accept an antiquated premise of what 2013 football is, he's an easy mark.
If the NFL really is a copycat league, it's time to start mimicking the right people.
NFL POWER POLL
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THE GAMES (All Times Eastern) - WEEK 2
New York Jets (1-0) at New England (1-0), Thursday, 8:25 p.m.
LINE: Patriots by 12
THE SKINNY: "Broadway Joe" hasn't been relevant since he was seen kissing Suzy Kolber, so "Broadway Mo" stepped it up this week. Muhammad Wilkerson, the New York Jets' emerging third-year defensive end, showed more than a bit of swagger by telling multiple media outlets that he believes his team will knock off Tom Brady and the banged-up Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
However, you have to think the short week favors the home team with the veteran quarterback over the visitors and the rookie. Meanwhile, the Pats have won each of the past five regular-season contests between the two clubs, averaging 38 points per game in doing so.
PREDICTION: Patriots 21, Jets 17
St. Louis (1-0) at Atlanta (0-1), Sunday. 1 p.m.
Line: Falcons by 7
THE SKINNY: This game will feature the top 3 picks of 2008 NFL Draft: St. Louis left tackle Jake Long (No. 1 by Miami), Rams defensive end Chris Long (No. 2) and Atlanta Pro Bowl QB Matt Ryan as well as Falcons running back Steven Jackson facing his former team for the first time. Jackson, drafted No. 24 overall by the Rams in 2004, is that franchise's all-time leading rusher with 10,138 yards, rushing for 1,000-plus yards in a team-record eight consecutive seasons.
The Falcons, considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender by many, are trying to avoid an 0-2 hole after last week's tough loss in New Orleans. Ryan is 2-0 in his career against the Rams and had a 101.8 passer rating the last time he faced St. Louis back in 2010. That's a magic number in Dixie. When Ryan starts and has a 100-plus passer rating, the Falcons are a gaudy 32-1.
PREDICTION: Falcons 34, Rams 20
Cleveland (0-1) at Baltimore (0-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Ravens by 6 1/2
THE SKINNY: The reigning Super Bowl champion Ravens aim to bounce back from an embarrassing opening night loss to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Baltimore is 33-7 at home under head coach John Harbaugh and has won five straight in the Charm City over Cleveland. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco, meanwhile, is 10-0 as starter in his career against the Browns.
PREDICTION: Ravens 24, Browns 13
Carolina (0-1) at Buffalo (0-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Panthers by 3
THE SKINNY: A pair of teams coming off tough losses during Kickoff Weekend meet in Western New York. Buffalo is 4-1 all-time versus Carolina and impressive rookie QB E.J. Manuel, the first freshman to start at the game's most important position for the Bills since Joe Ferguson in 1973, posted an impressive 105.5 passer rating last week against New England, the fourth-best mark in the AFC. The Panthers have won two straight versus AFC foes and ride QB Cam Newton, who became the fifth-fastest in NFL history to reach 8,000 passing yards against Seattle last week.
PREDICTION: Panthers 21, Bills 20
Minnesota (0-1) at Chicago (0-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Bears by 6
THE SKINNY: The Vikings will be attempting to avoid an early 0-2 hole in the NFC North against a Bears team that has dominated them in Chicago in recent years. The Bears have won five straight over Minnesota in the Second City and 11 of 12 overall. Chicago QB Jay Cutler, meanwhile, has won five of his past six starts against the Vikings.
PREDICTION: Bears 27, Vikings 17
Washington (0-1) at Green Bay (0-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Packers by 7 1/2
THE SKINNY: A pair of reigning division champions come in ornery after embarrassing defensive efforts. Washington got run over by the truck that was Chip Kelly's offense and Colin Kaepernick continued his dominance over Clay Matthews and Co. The Packers will likely right the ship this weekend because Aaron Rodgers has won 19 of his past 20 starts at Lambeau Field while Robert Griffin III, despite passing for a career-high 329 yards thanks to extended garbage time on Monday night, didn't look all that confident in his surgically repaired knee.
PREDICTION: Packers 30, Redskins 20
Tennessee (1-0) at Houston (1-0), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Texans by 9 1/2
THE SKINNY: Houston takes a shot at continuing its dominance over the AFC South during the team's home opener against Tennessee. Texans QB Matt Schaub, who registered his 26th career 30-yard passing game in Monday night's thrilling comeback win over San Diego, has a 6-2 career record with 17 TDs versus just one interception and a 105.6 passer rating against the Titans. Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt had two sacks in each of his last two games against Tennessee. Chris Johnson is the Titans' best chance. The speedy running back has averaged 89.3 rushing yards per game versus the Texans, and when he hits the century park, Tennessee is a solid 24-9 overall.
PREDICTION: Texans 30, Titans 14
Miami (1-0) at Indianapolis (1-0), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Colts by 3
THE SKINNY: Home is where Andrew Luck's heart is. The second-year star has won seven straight games as a starter in Lucas Oil Stadium and is 8-1 there overall. If things are close down the stretch, assume the "Luck" will be good for Indy, because the former Stanford star has had eight game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, the most by a QB in his first 17 games since the 1970 merger. Fellow second-year standout Ryan Tannehill passed for 290 yards with one TD and a 90.9 passer rating in a 23-20 loss to the Colts last season, the only time the Dolphins have lost when Tannehill records a 90- plus rating (6-1).
PREDICTION: Colts 24, Dolphins 20
Dallas (1-0) at Kansas City (1-0), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Chiefs by 3
THE SKINNY: Andy Reid's debut as Chiefs coach was pretty fruitful as Kansas City recorded a 28-2 victory at Jacksonville. QB Alex Smith, also making his Chiefs' debut, threw two touchdown passes and Jamaal Charles added a rushing score. The Cowboys, meanwhile, forced six turnovers in their Week 1 victory over the New York Giants. On offense, Tony Romo threw two touchdowns, both to tight end Jason Witten. Since 2011, Smith is 20-5-1 as starter with 32 TDs versus 10 INTs and a 95.0 passer rating.
PREDICTION: Chiefs 24, Cowboys 21
San Diego (0-1) at Philadelphia (1-0), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Eagles by 7 1/2
THE SKINNY: LeSean McCoy rushed for an NFL-best 184 yards and a TD last week on a career-high 31 carries. The Eagles are 11-1 when he totes it 20 times or more in game. The Chargers' Philip Rivers will attempt to bounce back from the colossal collapse against Houston on Monday and was 20-of-25 for 231 yards and two TDs in his only career start against Philly, a 31-23 Chargers win back in 2009.
PREDICTION: Eagles 27, Chargers 24
Detroit (1-0) at Arizona (0-1), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
LINE: Lions by 2
THE SKINNY: Reggie Bush will try to build on his impressive debut performance with the Lions in the desert. Bush became the first player since Cid Edwards in 1972 with 90-plus rushing yards (90) and 100-plus receiving yards (101) in his first game with a new team. The Cardinals have won four straight over Detroit and QB Carson Palmer lit up the Lions in his last start against them while with the Oakland Raiders, completing 32-of-40 passes for 367 yards back in 2011.
PREDICTION: Cardinals 28, Lions 21
New Orleans (1-0) at Tampa Bay (0-1), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
LINE: Saints by 3 1/2
THE SKINNY: Saints QB Drew Brees has won three in row as a starter against the Bucs, completing 80-of-112 passes for 942 yards with 10 TDs and just two picks over that span. Since joining New Orleans in 2006 the All-Pro leads the NFL with 33,928 passing yards and 246 TD throws. Embattled Tampa Bay signal caller Josh Freeman had a career-high 420 passing yards the last time the Saints were at Tampa.
PREDICTION: Saints 34, Bucs 24
Denver (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Broncos by 4 1/2
THE SKINNY: The Manning brothers will meet at MetLife Stadium -- the home of Super Bowl XLVIII -- in what they hope is just the first of two meetings this season. This contest will mark the first time in NFL history that the opposing starting quarterbacks will have each thrown for at least 400 yards in the previous week.
Denver is coming off a 49-27 win over Baltimore, the largest margin of victory against a defending Super Bowl champion in a season opener. Peyton Manning completed 27-of-42 passes for 462 yards with an NFL-record-tying seven touchdowns and no interceptions for a 141.1 passer rating.
"It's fun to play quarterback when you have a lot of guys working hard and making a lot of plays for you," Manning said.
Eli Manning and the Giants will be attempting to rebound from a 36-31 defeat at Dallas. In that game, the younger Manning threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns, but the Giants turned the ball over six times.
"Now we have to look ahead to the Denver Broncos," said Giants safety Antrel Rolle. "We all know what Peyton Manning brings to the table. We just have to play our best football and continue to grow."
PREDICTION: Giants 30, Broncos 24
Jacksonville (0-1) at Oakland (0-1), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Raiders by 6
THE SKINNY: Perhaps the NFL's two worst teams meet in the Bay Area when the Jags and Raiders square off. Chad Henne takes over at QB for Jacksonville, which laid a 28-2 egg against Kansas City in its home opener last Sunday. Henne, who is in for the injured Blaine Gabbert, threw for 307 yards and two TDs in his last effort against Oakland back in 2010 when he was with the Dolphins. New Raiders starter Terrelle Pryor, who will be making his first career start at home, rushed for 112 yards last week in a setback at Indy, a franchise single-game record for a QB.
PREDICTION: Raiders 20, Jags 14
San Francisco (1-0) at Seattle (1-0), Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
LINE: Seahawks by 3
The first installment of the expected arms race atop the NFC West happens Sunday night in Seattle when the defending NFC champion 49ers visit the Seahawks.
The Niners opened the season by knocking off Green Bay, 34-28, behind Kaepernick and his new favorite target, veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who played for the Super Bowl champion Ravens last season. Boldin had 13 catches for 208 yards against the Pack, while Kaepernick threw for a career- high 412 yards and three touchdowns.
"It was great to go out there and get this win," Kaepernick said. "You always want to win your opener; it sets the tone for the season."
The Seahawks, meanwhile, traveled to Carolina in Week 1 and defeated the Panthers, 12-7, behind second-year QB Russell Wilson, who passed for 320 yards and a touchdown.
"It's about overcoming adversity," said Seattle Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman. "Getting this type of game early is going to help us throughout the season."
Last year, the Seahawks were 8-0 at home as Wilson became the first rookie in NFL history to win all eight home games. In those eight contests, Wilson threw for 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions for a 123.6 passer rating.
PREDICTION: Seahawks 23, 49ers 17
Pittsburgh (0-1) at Cincinnati (0-1), Monday, 8:40 p.m.
LINE: Bengals by 7
THE SKINNY: The Steelers lost far more than a game last week when Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, linebacker Larry Foote and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling all went down with season-ending injuries against Tennessee. Expecting Pittsburgh to continue its recent dominance over Cincinnati could be too much to ask. The Steelers have won 10 of their past 11 against the Bengals and coach Mike Tomlin is 7-1 on Monday nights, but Cincy QB Andy Dalton has nine TD passes versus just one pick over his previous four home starts.
PREDICTION: Bengals 21, Steelers 14