I was on a conference call with ESPN analyst and former NFL general manager Bill Polian Friday morning. I asked him about the biggest challenges facing a college-to-NFL coach like Chip Kelly. Also asked him for his thoughts on the Eagles’ up-tempo offense.
On the biggest challenges facing Kelly:
“The challenge is simply to adapt to the rules of the game, which are different than college. In Chip’s case, because they run an up-tempo offense, he’ll just have to recognize the time-management issues. They’re not terribly significant. He’ll get used to them here in the preseason. It’s just a matter of getting used to the rhythm of an NFL game.
“He is, by definition, just because of the way his offense is constructed, he’s a matchup coach. So he’s going to recognize the matchups in the NFL are more difficult every week. I’m sure he already knows that.
“And then, believe it or not, getting used to the long season. That’s probably the biggest difference between the two levels of play. In college, at Thanksgiving, you’re finished and move on to recruiting and you’re getting your team ready for pre-bowl game preparations. In the NFL, at Thanksgiving, the season is just beginning. As Mike Murphy, our linebackers coach in Indianapolis used to say, ‘Then begins the dash for cash.’
“That part of it is totally different and everybody who comes into the league from the college level has to experience it before they recognize how difficult it is.
“That said, again, that’s not a major transition. People make it every year. Players make it every year. Assistant coaches make it every year. And Chip’s nothing if not intelligent and forward-thinking. And I’m sure he’s already researched that with any number of people. I know he has as matter of fact.
“I think that transition will be far less difficult than some people think.’’
On how he thinks Kelly’s offense will do this season:
“I have no idea. I’m anxious to see how he does offensively and how it functions in the NFL. He has better players obviously than he had at Oregon. It’ll be fun to see how he operates that.
“He’s going to call the plays, and that’s fine. He knows exactly how he wants to play, and that’s a good thing. He’ll be able to inculcate that into his team and his staff very quickly.
“I’ve said this on the air. For people that really like Xs and Os, for football junkies like Jaws (Ron Jaworski) and myself and others at ESPN, this NFL season is going to be one of the most interesting in a long time because the idea of how people are going to defend the option is interesting. And how the new parts of the spread offense and the up-tempo offense come into the National Football League and how they function and how people defend against it will be interesting.
“But Marv Levy taught me a long time ago, there’s nothing new under the sun. When Marv and I were in Buffalo, we ran a three-wide receiver, up-tempo, no-huddle offense starting in 1990. So it’s not like it’s never been done before. It has been done and quite successfully. It just hasn’t been done in a while, and there’s going to be an adjustment period for defenses. And that’s going to be fun to see how those matchups proceed over the course of the season.’’