PHILADELPHIA – The purpose of Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense is to run as many plays as possible in the shortest amount of time to maximize scoring potential.
It worked for two quarters.
Since cramming 53 plays into the first half of their season opener, the Philadelphia Eagles have run 145 plays in the last 10 quarters. Not coincidentally, they beat Washington 33-27 in Week 1 and lost the next two games.
Overall, opponents have run 227 plays to Philadelphia's 198. That's not the formula for success in this frenetic attack.
"We've got to move the ball and score points," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said Wednesday. "A lot has been made about how many plays (are run). We don't worry about how many plays we've got to run. We've got to score more points than the opponent.
"However we can get that done, we have to do that."
In losses to San Diego and Kansas City, the Eagles were on the short end of time of possession considerably. That can wear down a defense, which was evident in both games. The Chargers scored 13 points in the final 8:55 of the fourth quarter in a 33-30 win in Week 2. The Chiefs put the game away with a drive that lasted 8:15 in the fourth quarter.
But Kelly downplays ball control. Instead, he focuses on play totals.
"Time of possession means nothing. It's plays run," Kelly said. "They're running a lot more plays and we're not running enough plays. That's the whole argument that I've always had with the time of possession because a team can hold it for 40 minutes, if they run the same amount of plays, that's a different deal. Right now, plays run, we're not running enough plays on offense, we're turning the ball over too much offensively, we're not executing the way we're supposed to execute and that's what we have to do to be able to keep our defense off the field."
The team's inability to convert on third-and-long is part of the problem. The Eagles are 4 for 21 in third-and-5 situations and longer.
"Typically when you go back, you evaluate third downs, it's really never one thing," Shurmur said. "The throw may be off. You may drop the football. The quarterback may have gotten pressure. But the key is for us to stay on the field.
"By the way the numbers work out, you want to have shorter third downs than longer ones because as the distance goes up, they're tougher to make."
While Shurmur and Kelly offered contradictory thoughts on play totals, the main goal is to score points any way possible. The Eagles (1-2) will have to do plenty of that Sunday at Denver (3-0) against Peyton Manning and the Broncos' No. 1 ranked offense.
Denver leads the league in yards (486.7) and points (42.3) per game. The Eagles are second in yards (461.7) and eighth in points (26.3).
"We have to convert third downs, stay on the field, not have penalties, not turn the ball over or do the little things that kill a drive," quarterback Michael Vick said. "We just have to limit the mistakes, make as many plays as possible. If we do everything right, then we'll have 70-80 plays in a game."
NOTES: Eagles safety Patrick Chung again missed practice because of a shoulder injury. "He's a tough man. If he can go, he will go," defensive coordinator Billy Davis said. "It's a tricky injury. Right now I'm not sure." ... Rookie Earl Wolff would start if Chung can't play vs. Denver.
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