As a never give up (I don’t use “die-hard” because it’s a notion of giving up at some point) Washington Redskins fan, it was painful to watch Monday Night Football’s opening game. Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and the Philadelphia Eagles stunned the ‘Skins and, I would say, most people with their brutal high-tempo play, right out of the gate. It seemed they were running a two-minute drill for the first quarter every time they had possession. It wasn’t just offense that dominated. They played defense well, putting RGIII under pressure, cut of lanes and even their secondary picked up plays. There is, still, no denying that Chip Kelly brought his high-energy, fast paced, run and gun, West Coast offense with him to the city of brotherly love and Washington did not know how to handle it through most of the game. But is this style going to work through December? There are a couple of problems running this type of game all season long.
First off, the age and durability of the Eagles. The West Coast offense is a dynamic weapon in football, when it’s executed correctly. The PAC-12 is one of the best divisions in the BCS because of the teams executing it well. However, their players are all under the age of 25. They haven’t been playing for 10 years in a hard hitting level. The physical toll on an aged, veteran player was apparent in the Week 1 game. In the fourth quarter, Michael Vick was clearly catering to a groin injury. There are some young players on the Eagles who can still withstand that kind of physicality. However, Kelly runs his offense as a pass/run option with the QB in the pocket. We all know Vick is capable of running the ball, and running it well, when needed. But I don’t think his body can handle what he did even five years ago. He’ll watch the plays unfold, pass when he can, run when it’s needed. What happens when he tears an MCL?
Secondly, predictability. Going into this season, no one knew what the Eagles had in store. They brought in a (almost entirely) new coaching staff. No one knew if Kelly would keep the play he established with the Oregon Ducks or if he would keep the players consistent on the style from the past few years. Now that he has shown that the Eagles can play (at least for a little while) at the pace from Oregon, the vast knowledge of NFL coaches, defensive coordinators and scouts and the talent at their disposal, teams will prepare and anticipate the plays made by his offense. During the second half, the stats tilted in the favor of Washington, and it wasn’t a sore and tired Philly team. During a press conference on WashingtonRedskins.com, Washington’s defensive coordinator, Jim Haslett, spoke of playing better in the second half. Now, I don’t know what was said in the locker room at the half, but after the would be censored words, they sat back and reviewed how the offense played.
The true test will be this weekend’s game against the San Diego Chargers. I’m sure after their Week 1 loss, Mike McCoy (who also is a rookie coach) and his staff wasted no time going over how the Eagles played, put together some drills for the players to control Kelly’s offense and have spent little time off the practice field making sure they don’t start off the season 2-0. If McCoy pulls out the win, Chip Kelly should reevaluate his strategy and come up with a new game plan.