Play Calling Shows Eagles Coach Chip Kelly Adapting to NFL | Eagles Addict

“Adaptability” was one of the catch-phrases used to describe Chip Kelly after he was hired as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.  In essence, it meant that he had the ability to adapt his scheme to best fit the personnel running his offense.

Over the course of his first eight games, we’ve seen Kelly roll out several different formations.  We’ve seen the unbalanced line, 11-personnel (3 WR, 1 RB, 1 TE), 22-personnel (2 TE, 2 RB, 1 WR), some read option as well as the up-tempo.

However, take away all of the different formations and fancy names of the personnel groupings and it all boils down to running and passing.  NFL teams strive to have a balanced offense and be equally effective with the run as well as the pass.

If anyone, Eagles fans know all about needing balance as we’ve been passed-to-death by Andy Reid the last 14 years.  When teams are forced to be one dimensional, it doesn’t bode well for their chances of winning.

But as we all know, the NFL has become primarily a pass-happy league.  In 1970, the average percentage of the run-pass ratio for all NFL teams was roughly 52/48 favoring the run.  By 2012, that number was roughly 57/43 in favor of the pass.

This year, that ratio is likely creeping to around 58/42.  Furthermore, what’s worth noting about these stats is that the rushing ratio includes runs by quarterbacks.  In other words, some percentage of the “rushes” were actually called pass-plays that broke down to a QB scramble.

Chip Kelly and LeSean McCoy

David Maialetti/Philly.com

The reason I bring this up is two-fold…one is because we were all traumatized and frustrated by Andy Reid’s stubbornness when it came to neglecting the run-game.  So, prior to the season beginning, I fully expected a refreshing change to an offense that would feature the run more.

Secondly, based on Kelly’s history at Oregon over the past four years, we would have thought the Eagles would do just that and become a more run-oriented team.

Kelly’s bread and butter at Oregon was the read option offense that heavily favored the running attack.  His quarterbacks did carry the ball a good amount of times for the most part, but his offenses were run-heavy even when you take away the QB runs.

Last season at Oregon, Kelly’s offense actually attempted 373 total passes vs. a whopping 685 runs.  Of those 685 runs, 145 came from the QB position so that still leaves 373 passes to 540 runs.

If you count the runs by the QB, Kelly had a 65-35 run-pass ratio heavily slanted towards the run.  If you remove the QB runs in an effort to think more along the lines of “true runs by a running back”, then the ratio is more like 60-40 in favor of the run.

If you look back at 2009 through 2011, you see the same thing (I’ve removed the QB runs from the equations)…

  • 2011: 386 pass plays vs. 550 runs, a 59/41 split in favor of the run.
  • 2010: 395 pass plays vs. 516 runs, a 57/43 split in favor of the run.
  • 2009: 338 pass plays vs. 410 runs, a 55/45 split in favor of the run.

That’s a four-year average run-pass ratio of 58/42 favoring the run game.

So, did Chip carry that philosophy over to the NFL?

After Week 1 against Washington, it certainly seemed as if that would be the case.  In that game, the Eagles ran the ball 49 times (nine by Vick) against just 25 pass attempts for a run-pass ratio of roughly 66/34 favoring the run.

However, that is the one and only time this season he has favored the run.

On the season so far, the Eagles have attempted 308 passes against 266 rushes for a roughly 54/46 run-pass ratio favoring the pass.  However, 48 of those 266 rushes were by Eagles quarterbacks.

If you take those out of the equation to get a better idea of how many true running plays have been called, the ratio would be more like 62/38 in favor of the pass.

So, Chip has changed his offense from completely run-dominant in college to favoring the pass in the NFL.  Therefore, he has adapted his philosophy to fall more in line with today’s NFL.

Maybe not so coincidentally since Chip is a man of stats and science, Pat Kirwin of CBSSports wrote an article back in June that talked about the run-pass ratio of NFL teams being out of whack last year (too many teams heavily favoring the pass and most of them had losing records).

In that article, Kirwin mentioned that the average run-pass ratio for playoff teams since the year 2000 has been 46 percent run and 54 percent pass (54/46 favoring the pass).  Of course, that ratio also includes runs by quarterbacks.

What was the ratio I mentioned above when counting runs by Eagles QBs this season?  You got it, 54 percent pass, 46 percent run.

Chip has adapted his offensive philosophy right down to damn near the exact percentages of the average playoff team for the past 13 years!

With that said, I’d still prefer to see a little more of LeSean McCoy running between the tackles in general, and particularly in goal-to-go situations.

Remember that play call on first and goal at the two yard line against New York in Week 8?  You know, the one where Matt Barkley rolled left only to be sacked and fumbled.  Yeah, it would be nice to give one of the best running backs in the NFL a shot or two there.

The Eagles were at or inside the Oakland five yard line twice last week and Kelly had Foles attempt two passes without even giving the run a shot.  Of course, both passes were for touchdowns so I’m not complaining.

If that trend continues but they end up leading to turnovers, incompletions or settling for field goals instead of touchdowns, that’s when I’ll start nit-picking the play calling.


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