After two explosive performances, the Eagles new offense is translating to the NFL

Chip Kelly’s offense scored 89 points last weekend.

OK, Kelly may not be the head coach at Oregon anymore, but his offensive system, which is still utilized in Eugene, put up 59 points against Tennessee on Saturday. Kelly’s new team in Philadelphia endured an offensive explosion of its own the next day, scoring 30 points against the San Diego Chargers. Maybe Kelly’s offense can actually translate from college to the pros.

Kelly’s system is a no-huddle, spread-out, fast-paced offensive attack. Although other teams utilize a two-minute offense in short-clock situations, Kelly’s offense pushes the tempo at all times. An important aspect of Kelly’s system is maximizing the usage of his playmakers. He loves quarterbacks who can throw and run at a high level, demonstrated by his quarterback at Oregon last season in Marcus Mariota. He put up stellar numbers in his freshman season, passing for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns to only six interceptions, while rushing for 752 yards on 7.1 yards per carry.

Running back Kenjon Barner was a workhorse, rushing for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns. Kelly’s X-factor was running back De’Anthony Thomas, who was regularly used as a pass target in the backfield while being a threat as a returner as well. The 5-foot-9 Thomas rushed for 701 yards and had 445 yards receiving last season while scoring 18 touchdowns overall (11 rushing, five receiving, one punt return and one kick return). The weapons at Kelly’s disposal have only improved in Philadelphia.

Few players in the league are a better fit for Kelly’s offense than quarterback Michael Vick. Vick fits the profile of a Kelly-based offense with quick feet and the ability to throw on the move. The 11-year veteran struggled mightily last season while being limited to only 10 games due to various injuries. Vick has already benefited from the new system, throwing four touchdowns to no interceptions in the Eagles’ first two games this season. In both contests, Vick threw for two touchdowns without an interception, a feat he accomplished once in 2012.

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    Vick had a masterpiece of a game in a losing effort against the Chargers on Saturday, passing for a career-high 428 yards. Vick is clearly comfortable operating out of shotgun on almost every play. Shotgun formations are nothing out of the ordinary in recent years with the increase in pass-heavy offenses in the NFL, but shotguns on nearly every play is something out of a college playbook. Of course Kelly utilized Vick’s speed too, as he rushed for a score in each of the Eagles first two games. Vick has already found his favorite targets in wide receiver DeSean Jackson and running back LeSean McCoy.

    The Seans have been quite the duo for the Eagles this season. Jackson has been targeted 24 times in Philadelphia’s first two games with Jeremy Maclin sitting out the season with an ACL tear. The much-maligned wideout has reeled in 16 of those targets for 148.5 yards per game, including a 193-yard explosion Sunday. McCoy’s two games so far have been vastly different from each other but nonetheless effective.

    McCoy was used in Philadelphia’s first game against Washington in a way similar to how Kelly utilized Barner at Oregon. McCoy carried the ball a ridiculous 31 times for 184 yards and a touchdown in a 33-27 win. McCoy rushed for just 53 yards against the Chargers on Sunday but had 114 yards receiving, replicating Thomas at Oregon. Running backs thrive in Kelly’s system, and McCoy is off to a hot start.

    Like at Oregon, Kelly has maximized the use of his best players on offense in Philadelphia, sacrificing touches for lesser playmakers in the process. Backup running back Bryce Brown has carried the ball just 12 times in the team’s first two games, while no wide receiver beside Jackson has been targeted more than three times in both games. Quarterback Nick Foles threw a pass in Sunday’s game only because Vick sat out a play after getting drilled. Kelly knows who his best players are and makes sure they’re involved whenever possible.

    The Eagles have already scored 30 points or more this season more times than all of last season. This team was so awful at offense in 2012 that the New York Jets out-scored the Eagles by one-tenth of a point per game at 17.6. If a Mark Sanchez-quarterbacked team puts up more points than you, that’s saying something.

    Kelly has already done an outstanding job of changing course and completely revamping what was a horrible offense last season. The players have bought into the system, and more importantly the players have executed the unconventional offense. Vick, Jackson, McCoy and Co. are more than capable of extending this type of play throughout a season. There will be bumps along the way, but the best aspect of Kelly’s offense is its ability to adjust. If a team puts eight players in the box to prevent the run, then have Vick air it out. If teams are clogging up the secondary instead, feed McCoy. Just when the Eagles offense seems vulnerable, Vick’s rushing ability will help extend plays when nothing seems available. This offense will look different week to week and preparing for that kind of variability will give defensive coordinators nightmares throughout the season.

    Michael is a senior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected].