The Philadelphia Eagles are under the gun this season thanks to Chip Kelly’s new offensive system. Have the Eagles found an offense that will change the NFL, or will Kelly’s experiments crash and burn? At the least, Kelly has made Philadelphia’s quarterbacks more accurate than they’ve been in years, as their 14-9 win over the Carolina Panthers backed up on Aug. 15.
Nick Foles started the game with two red zone drives and one rushing touchdown, with Michael Vick later connecting on his first nine passes in the second quarter. All told, the Eagles’ two top quarterbacks have combined for just five incompletions in two games, which is almost unheard of in Philadelphia.
Vick has never been the most accurate passer in football, while Foles didn’t have high marks on that end last year. Yet both quarterbacks have been efficient and have regularly driven the Eagles down the field in their limited playing time. That would seem to be the best possible endorsement for Kelly’s system.
But since this is the preseason, Vick and Foles have only had a few drives in the first half of each game. The Eagles need one or both of them to be accurate and eat up yards for four quarters every week. They won’t know if that is possible until the games start to count, and until Kelly picks a full-time starter.
In addition, two of Foles and Vick’s three combined incompletions on Aug. 15 were for interceptions, with Foles’s pick coming in the end zone to end his first drive. While the Eagles have accuracy, they should have had more than 14 points as well. Getting a lot of yards and few points was a hallmark of the Andy Reid era at the end, which is something Kelly can’t afford to emulate.
Three turnovers in the first half against the Panthers, along with a 1-1 preseason record, show the limitations of the Kelly system thus far. Plus if the Eagles are indeed still indecisive about choosing Vick and Foles, their similarities so far aren’t helping -- although it may prove that Kelly’s offense will work no matter who they pick.
In any case, the Eagles won’t know for sure until they pick someone and have him stay on the field for 60 minutes. However, they’ve already mastered Kelly’s art for 30 minutes at a time, at least in a few ways.