As Eagles coach Chip Kelly tries to maximize the performance of his no-huddle, hurry-up offense, he needs maximum cooperation from his players.
So far, he’s not getting it.
Before Sunday’s unexpected loss to the Chargers, Sal Paolantonio of ESPN reported that Kelly has instructed his players not to leave the ball on the ground after a play but to hand it to an official. During Sunday’s game, Kelly’s players consistently left the ball on the ground.
The biggest culprit was running back LeSean McCoy. Based on a review of the full game broadcast, McCoy left the ball on the ground at least 10 times.
At one point in the second quarter, McCoy flipped the ball to the officials after a play. Soon after that, he left it on the ground, stopped, retrieved it, and gave it to the officials.
If the change was the result of being reminded about it on the sidelines after consistently failing to give the ball to the officials during the first quarter, it didn’t stick. He quickly resorted to leaving the ball on the ground after a play.
While it doesn’t create a major delay, every second counts in Kelly’s go-go offense. And for Kelly, who wants the system to run a certain way, it has to be maddening that the guys aren’t doing what they expressly have been told to do.
It’s unclear when they were first told to do it this way. Either Kelly has been harping on it throughout the offseason program, training camp, and the preseason and they continue to ignore him, or he has just realized only recently that time was being wasted by leaving the ball on the ground instead of getting it in an official’s hands.
Regardless, the Eagles could be getting even more plays called if the players start doing what Kelly wants them to do.
It’s unclear how many more snaps they would have had on Sunday against the Chargers. As it stands, Philly had only 58. San Diego had 79 plays from scrimmage, despite often draining the play clock in a no-huddle approach while quarterback Philip Rivers made changes based on the pre-snap look.
The Chargers ended up having the ball more than 40 minutes, too. Kelly has said that he’s not concerned about a 40-20 split, as long as the Eagles get their snaps in. On Sunday, it was less like the UCLA game Kelly mentioned in August and more like the far bigger NFL game in which the Buffalo K-gun offense was stymied both in time of possession and snaps by a grind-it-out Giants team.
While the Chargers did much more throwing than grinding on Sunday in Philly, they came up with an approach that others surely will copy in the coming weeks.
Starting on Thursday night, when the Chiefs and Andy Reid come to town.