Eagles coach Chip Kelly brought the fast-paced offense he had honed at Oregon to the NFL last year, and the results were great. But Kelly says he’s not as much of an innovator as he’s been made out to be.
Kelly said that offensive trends change in the NFL all the time, and his own emphasis on the hurry-up offense traces its origins to teams like the Bills of the early 1990s and the Bengals of the late 1980s.
“It’s cyclical,” Kelly said. “You watch Andre Reed go into the Hall of Fame, and the offense he ran with the Buffalo Bills was as exciting and outstanding as you get, with Jim Kelly at quarterback and Thurman Thomas and that group of guys there. You can go back to Sam Wyche and Boomer Esiason — they were doing it a long time ago. I think sometimes there’s just cycles that go through.”
Kelly said the kind of offense he ran at Oregon has become commonplace in college and high school over the last several years, and so the players now entering the NFL are very familiar with the fast-paced offensive approach. In fact, sometimes young players are more familiar with the Kelly-style offense than longtime NFL coaches who haven’t followed recent trends in college football.
“There’s a lot more being done at the lower levels, the high school levels and the college levels, so the people coming up, I think, have a better understanding of it maybe, and they can share with their coaches on how they get that stuff accomplished,” Kelly said.
In Kelly’s view, football strategy is always evolving and will continue to do so.
“The game is very cyclical,” he said. “It will change and go the other way. There was a time when no one ran the 3-4 and everyone was a 4-3 team. Now it seems like a lot more 3-4 teams are in existence. It’s a game that ebbs and flows and I think everybody is just trying to figure out how they can stay ahead of it, and what’s the new trend.”
Kelly’s offense feels like the new trend in the NFL right now. Soon it will feel like old hand, and some other system with some other strategic advantages will be the next big thing in football.