As training camp continues for the Philadelphia Eagles, the numbers are diminishing from injuries. This won’t perturb Chip Kelly, though, as he will push on with his college style offense. Trent Cole is wandering in football limbo, not understanding if he is going to play linebacker or defensive end. The quarterbacks are picking at each other like anxious hens, for the top spot, to head the team to a less than spectacular year. There are more questions than answers in the secondary, but none of this bothers Kelly, at least, that is, until the season starts.
When it does, these will be issues that he won’t ignore. Perhaps the biggest detriment for his no huddle, cram- as many- offensive plays- in one drive as- you- can system, will be the officials. Let us review last year. Watching a normal game was horrendous at times. With every touchdown, whether it was clear or not, there had to be an instant replay. After that, there were the questionable calls, and play was stopped again. Offensive pass interference was called more than any other time I can remember. Any time a player taunted too much, or made a great hit, or called his mother with a tear in his eye, play was stopped.
Now, Philadelphia has Kelly. He is a charismatic, rolling, personable, bundle of energy. He cranks up the music at the Eagles’ practices and is teaching them to read hand signals from the sidelines. He wants his team fast, so defenses have no time to set up or distinguish what type of package they are running. He wants the Eagles that we know and love to look like a college team we neither love or like. But giving him the benefit of the doubt and supposing his team can outsmart defenses that will have ample time to sharpen their blades, there are still the delays.
The commercial breaks, the end zone instant replays, the constant regulations that the NFL is enforcing, and the bad calls, are all going to block Kelly’s dancing rhythm. These alone will give defenses a break, a chance to catch their wind through their painted face-masks and more time for defensive coordinators to interpret the play. Kelly will soon learn this painful lesson. He brings energy to Philly which fans are craving with quivering lips. He’s got something new and fresh, but this is the NFL.
When play stops for an offensive interference call that lasts for more than an hour, with referees walking one way down the field, then going under the curtain, then scratching their heads, then pausing to reflect on the spiritual and cultural ramifications of the call, before making it; it will be the no-huddle that will suffer. The NFL has a long-standing pace at which they do things between plays and the referees “aren’t going to change just to accommodate someone’s offense,” said Mike Pereira, a former NFL vice president of officiating who is now an analyst for Fox Sports. So there is your answer, Kelly. Defenses are now salivating for you because the refs are ready to invade.