Saturday, February 13, 2016

Tonight's game is first chapter of an inscrutable season

The most fascinating aspect of tonight's Eagles game and the entire season is the unknown.

Tonight's game is first chapter of an inscrutable season

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

The most fascinating aspect of tonight’s Eagles game and the entire season is the unknown.

It has been that way from the moment Andy Reid was fired. Reid was nothing if not predictable. The play calls were predictable. The press conferences were predictable. And, by the end, the results were predictable.

If the Eagles had hired an NFL assistant, this game against the team from Washington (I am boycotting the nickname) would be just another opener with a new coach.

By hiring Chip Kelly, the Eagles committed to significant change.

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Running as many plays as possible sounds intriguing. But will the plays work? Will enough of them work to win enough games in the long run to get the Eagles back into the NFL’s upper echelon? Really, what will this offense look like now that the coach has spent months evaluating what he has in relation to what he will be playing against?

What Kelly did at Oregon was a revelation. The coach’s creativity was absolutely part of the Ducks’ success. This was a must-watch team because of how they played; the incredible speed at the skill positions and the looks on the faces of defenders when they began to tire from the constant assault.

But don’t underestimate the have and have not nature of college football. The majority of the results are determined when the schedules are revealed. There are no 35-point spreads in the NFL.

Oregon not only had a scheme edge, they also had a huge talent edge in 90 percent of its games. Having Phil Knight on your side is an incalculable advantage. The facilities at Oregon are as good as any in football, the NFL included. That attracts talent and so does access to all that Nike gear. Players like gear. They really like Nike gear.

Beyond the coach’s unique way of looking at the sport, a lot of the advantages Oregon had are irrelevant in the NFL. It’s just about your players and how you coach them. (By the way, Kelly obviously left Oregon in good shape. The Ducks have outscored their two opponents 125-13 and gained 1,329 yards).

Entering this season, the Eagles have just two obvious edges in talent on most teams they will play offensive line and running back.

Michael Vick is a microcosm of this team. He is an unknown at this stage of his career. He could be great. He could be awful.

What Kelly wants to do on offense may be what Vick has always been waiting for. Perhaps, this offense would have fit the Michael Vick Experience, but not the 2013 Mike Vick.

Nobody really knows about the quarterback, just like nobody really knows what the Chip Kelly Experience will be.

We can guess, but we can’t know.

Tonight is the first chapter in a book that eventually will transform the unknown into the known.

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Eagletarian is your home for comprehensive coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles.

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