Posted September 10, 2013

Chip Kelly swipes RGIII’s spotlight in exhilarating ‘MNF’ clash

NFC East, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
In Kelly's new offense, Michael Vick threw two for two touchdowns and ran for another. (Nick Wass/AP)

In Kelly’s new offense, Michael Vick threw two touchdowns and ran for another. (Nick Wass/AP)

The start was brilliant. The finish was just good enough.

In a Monday Night Football collision of colossal storylines — Chip Kelly’s much-anticipated regular-season debut for Philadelphia and Robert Griffin III’s return for Washington — it was Kelly’s Eagles who pilfered the spotlight. Their new offense was everything it promised to be and more in the first half, en route to 26 points and an eye-popping 53 plays (Up-tempo Green Bay ran 58 total plays against the 49ers).

The Philadelphia pace slowed and Griffin steadied himself in the second half, those simultaneous occurrences nearly proving enough for the Redskins to erase a massive deficit. An onside kick recovery sealed the wild, unpredictable 33-27 Philadelphia win.

The Redskins fans who stormed FedEx Field ready to salute Griffin were in for a letdown early. RGIII opened the evening dramatically: He marched out of the locker room, fell to his knees to pound the turf with both hands, made a sign of the cross, then held an oversized Redskins flag aloft and charged onto the field.

He would barely be back between the hash marks for the next half hour or so. Philadelphia ran 19 of the game’s first 20 plays, getting up and over the ball in a breathtaking fury just as Kelly’s Oregon teams did. Griffin’s lone snap in that time resulted in a fumble by running back Alfred Morris.

“I like the way we dictate the pace of the game,” Philadelphia QB Michael Vick told the NFL Network after his team’s win. “I understand the system and I like what we’re doing. It’s fast, and we’re keeping everybody off-balance.”

You can say that again.

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Washington had no answers for Philadelphia’s offense in the first half. Had it not been for three lengthy video reviews and a couple of potentially dubious Washington injuries (after one, an Eagle could be heard yelling, “He’s faking, y’all!”), the Redskins’ defense might not have made it to halftime.

When halftime rolled around, the Eagles had run 53 plays … and Washington had gained 75 yards.

“Anytime you get behind the eight ball like we did and you have an offense that’s productive as they were,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said, “you’re in for a long half.”

This was how Kelly’s offense was supposed to click somewhere down the road, with Vick slinging passes, LeSean McCoy breaking ankles, DeSean Jackson carving up secondaries and the sum total running opposing defenses into the ground. Not even Kelly’s staunchest supporters could have expected the rookie NFL coach to come out stoking the fires like he did in Week 1.

That goes for both sides of the football, too. For all the accolades heaped on the Vick-led offense in the first half, Kelly’s defense, which was a wreck throughout the preseason, pitched a shutout for the first 44 minutes and 49 seconds. Washington’s seven points prior to that came on an unusual play that saw a batted, backwards pass from Vick turn into a scoop-and-score TD for the Redskins’ defense.

“We don’t count plays; that’s not part of our deal,” Kelly said. “It was a bizarre first half … they score and their offense hasn’t been on the field.

“The thing you’ve got to count is points, and our defense did a great job for us.”

Vick finished with 203 yards passing and two touchdowns, despite not being all that sharp through the air. McCoy more than pulled his own alongside, rushing for 184 yards and a video game-esque TD run in which he jump-cut over and around E.J. Biggers on his way to the end zone.

But all the mayhem of the opening two quarters-plus nearly took a backseat to a Griffin-fueled comeback late. Morris’ TD with 11 seconds left in the third quarter stopped a 33-0 Philadelphia run and pulled Washington within 19.

GALLERY: Was that a touchdown? Week 1 edition 

Griffin, shaking off the rust accumulated over a preseason spent riding the pine, then worked his way into a groove. A pair of TD tosses to Leonard Hankerson — one with 13:39 left, another at 1:20 — brought the Redskins within striking distance. If Washington had managed to keep the drive between those two scores alive, who knows how this one might have ended.

That promising march, however, died on a false start and four straight Griffin incompletions, a quartet of reminders that the second-year QB may be off and on for a few weeks.

“Robert’s a guy who works extremely hard,” Vick told the NFL Network, “and when he makes his mind up to do something, he’s going to do it.”

Not quite true here. Griffin, ever the competitor, managed to stave off an embarrassing blowout loss by bringing his team back. In the process, he probably gave the stunned Washington crowd hope that upcoming games will be better than Monday’s showing.

This night belonged to Kelly, who, at least for the first three quarters, alerted the NFL that his transition from college to the pros may be a terrifically exciting one.

Just don’t blink, or you may miss what comes next.

33 comments
reader4si
reader4si

It's not like in college with 12 games season and half of them like practice partner on your schedule.  Wait until the end of season then talk if they still have gas in the tank.

reader4si
reader4si

Wait until the DC catching up what he's doing and will be affect both ways, 3 and quick out and your defense has to be on the field again, they will be gash too.  By the end of season they will be run out of gas. Remember if this team play like this 16 games their players will be gash while other team just encounter the eagle once in the season except those in division which is twice a season.

SteveUngrey
SteveUngrey

Get back to me later in the season. IT'S ONE GAME... and this offense in the long haul is meant to be led by a younger quarterback, not a 32-year old who is suspect over a period of time. 

I won't dog the offense just yet. We'll see if it's a killer over 16 weeks.

6marK6
6marK6

It is a long season. I don't think we have any real idea on whether this experiment will work yet. The Skins were sluggish and still should have won.

OraPike
OraPike

good for football---something new---almost college like with the college attitude that we all love.  The first half reminded me of the aikman years with the cowboys as far as execution.  CAN'T WAIT TO SEE NEXT WEEK. 

Jim21
Jim21

This offense will fizzle in about week 12-13. Why? Chip Kelly is used running this fast-paced offense with 1) a college schedule where not everyone is NFL caliber and players can take plays off and 2) There aren't many 32 year old starting QB's in college. The fast pace is also going to wear out your own defense if the offense can't put together long drives. I like it but I want to see if it's feasible over the course of a LONG NFL season.

 

btcvsolo
btcvsolo

This Kelly feller might work out. Has something new to offer & seems to get along well with his players...

Thomas15
Thomas15

I give Davis credit for not going to "prevent" in the 4TH Q and continuing to Blitz. Also give credit to Skins O-line for starting to pick them up better. The NFL is tough and ther'es no easy wins; unless you got ERNIE ADAMS breaking down other teams opposing calls from illegal videotaping and telling your QB where to go with the ball past the NFL 15 second limit. 

Baldeagle
Baldeagle

jlee0916...That too. I hope Chip learned his lesson regarding taking a quarter or two off...this ain't college ball, every NFL team has the capacity to come back and snatch victory from defeat, except maybe San Diego.

Baldeagle
Baldeagle

Guess the Eagle offense was a little tired and Chip slowed things down middle late 3rd and 4th quarter and that allowed Redskins to catch up...bad decision, but can understand why. Washington was shelled shocked in the 1st half, had the Eagles been able to keep that pace up in the 2nd half it would have been embarrassing for WR fans and for the Redskins.


JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

The bigger question long term is if the players can play that many offensive plays throughout the season and stay healthy?  Vick doesn't normally last beyond week 7 or 8 w/out missing a game or two anyway.  How will the punishment of a full NFL season start to wear on this team in week 10 and beyond.

funtasticus
funtasticus

I think the answer is maybe...in the first half two quick turnovers kept the defense on the field way too long for a first game against an offense no one had film on.  Made for tough adjustments. In the second half Vick was pressured a lot and the offensive line has some issues.  Vick won't survive the season and Foles can't imitate Vick.

SlamaLama
SlamaLama

Let them play a more complete team.

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

RGIII opened the evening dramatically: He marched out of the locker room, fell to his knees to pound the turf with both hands, made a sign of the cross, then held an oversized Redskins flag aloft and charged onto the field."

=============================

what a pompass as.s this guy is.

Jon8
Jon8

That sound you hear throughout the NFL tonite is the mad scramble to get film of the teams in college that beat Kelly's offensive scheme!

The Redskins looked like they had been hit with a runaway train in the first half and it could have been much worse!

mystafugee
mystafugee

So I guess after 1 game Chip's offense is clearly a success.  

Fedorg4s
Fedorg4s

@6marK6 Usually I agree with your comments, and I agree the Redskins were sluggish but they were also very lucky to even bring it close. This could've been 40-50 to 14-21 easily, Eagles didn't capitalize on some chances and went away from the game plan a bit early when they thought they could start running clock. 

jlee0916
jlee0916

@Baldeagle yeah i agree.  I thought they went to the prevent/slowdown a little too early, and almost paid the price for it.  Felt good about the D until the Patrick Chung TD.  Also the special teams looked great.

jlee0916
jlee0916

@Baldeagle i don't think they slowed down because they were tired.  I think they slowed down because they were up 33-7.

Ted3
Ted3

@JohnnyNacho Exactly! Does anybody think McCoy can last a full season taking 30 carries a game? Him and Brown are going to have to start splitting carries more or McCoy is going to be useless in the second half of the season. Chip might also want to look into getting another dual threat QB in on the action. Vince Young is a free agent and might be a better fit for this offense than either backup he already has.

tundey
tundey

@funtasticus Exactly. Vick was already gimpy late in that game. If it was Collin Kaepernick running this offense, I would be scared. But Vick? He throws way too many INT and doesn't last 16 games.

drmuon
drmuon

@SlamaLama Dude.. come on.. The skins were in the play offs and won the NFC East.  Stop being a naysayer.  Eagles stopped the run.  Skins were not planning on that.  Skins had the best rush offense in the NFL last year.  

tundey
tundey

@SlamaLama Or a team whose offense doesn't attempt to give the game away in the first quarter. No matter who you play, your offense can't keep letting your defense down. The Giants did it on Sunday night and lost to the Cowboys who ran a normal NFL offense. 

SteveRowFla
SteveRowFla

@WHO*IS*ESPN I'm not a huge fan, but given the pain and effort required to come back so quickly from that injury, I'll give him some emotional leeway.  If he turns into Ray Lewis part deaux, then all bets are off.

tundey
tundey

@Jon8 That's just BS. If the Redskins offense basically gave the game away in the first quarter. Fumble, INT, safety and all sorts of ways that managed to keep Chip Kelly's offense on the field long. At some point, the Eagles had run 20+ plays to the Redskins 1 play (that resulted in a fumble).


As good as the Eagles were in the first half, they only scored a total of 33 and won by 6 when the Redskins offense didn't even show up. Not saying the Redskins would have won but you don't have to go to college for the solution to Kelly's schemes. The answer is simple: keep your offense on the field and force Vick to make quick decisions. 

stevedeans
stevedeans

@Ted3 @JohnnyNacho why do you think McCoy can't handle the work? He has never had injury problems. Vick needs to learn that throwing blocks looks good but he needs to avoid unnecessary contact

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@tundey @funtasticus Kaep will be in the same boat eventually, watching injured from the sidelines. He's lucky he has a fantastic, dictating defense and one of the best O-lines in the league or you'd be saying the same things about him already.

funtasticus
funtasticus

@drmuon @SlamaLama i don't think two kick fumbles by Morris and RGIII on a surgically repaired knee seeing his first game action were really scaring many people.  Morris is a godo back made even better with the threat of RGIII running.  Without that threat stopping Morris is made much easier.  Add to that being up 30 points kind of eliminates a running game on its own.

Jon8
Jon8

And if you keep repeating that nonsense over and over whilst clicking your heels together, it just might come true!!!

jlee0916
jlee0916

@tundey @Jon8 i don't know.  seemed pretty apparent that eagles played off a little too early.  Didn't seem like they tried to run their offense after McCoy's TD to put them 33-7.  Then the defense plays prevent the rest of the way.  I'm not saying they could have kept the pace for the second half, but it was definitely apparent, that they took their foots off the gas up 33-7

Ted3
Ted3

@stevedeans @Ted3 @JohnnyNacho Do some simple math. If he keeps up at this pace (he won't but humor me), he'll have close to 500 carries. That number of carries is a lot no matter who you are. Now ... If the Eagles manage to average 70 plays per game (had 53 in the first half last night though slowed it down a lot in the second half) and actually run a balanced offense (Chip favors the run), McCoy will still get around 20-25 a game. And that's if Brown and Vick get about 15 between them. That's best case scenario assuming this offense continues to look as good as it did last night and is balanced. However, I think he'll be fine if this offense ends up sputtering and dying. I hope it doesn't though. It's a TON of fun to watch!

jlee0916
jlee0916

@tundey @jlee0916 @Jon8 being up 33-7 is why they would take their foot off the gas.  As you could have seen as they were snapping the ball with 7 seconds or less in the play clock and mostly running the football.  The offense in the second half didn't concern me (except the avant fumble).  The defense was obviously playing prevent defense as most of the passes completed were less than 10 yarders and run outs.  And none of the 2nd half TDs worried me except the last one, as that was just poor coverage from chung.

In the NFL more than college you should try to run out a clock and preserve the win.  In college is where you have to run up the score since ranking and BCS standing is based on your performance...that's why you see 66-3 scores in the NCAA every week, and hardly ever in the NFL.

I'm an eagles fan, and think this whole year is a work in progress.  Did they took their foot off the gas too soon...probably.  Hopefully he learns from that.

tundey
tundey

@jlee0916 @tundey @Jon8 Why would they take their foot off the gas? This isn't college football where you take mercy on the Sisters of the Poor in Week 1 of your schedule. The fact is the Redskins offense started showing up in the second half which made the Redskins defense not too tired to chase after the Eagles. And if the Redskins had scored on their second-to-last possession instead of turning it over on 4th down, the game could have been closer.

I am not saying Kelly's scheme is a failure. Heck no. But there's no way they can keep the pace of that first quarter for 60 minutes if they play a team whose offense decides to show up from the opening snap.