- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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You can tell that Chip Kelly has heard all of the chatter and debate about whether "his system" can work in the NFL. At his introductory news conference as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Kelly spent a fair amount of time trying to explain that he doesn't necessarily plan to transplant the same offensive system he used at Oregon into the NFL.
"The perception is that we run our quarterback all the time," Kelly said. "The reality is, that's not the case. Our offense is always going to be tailored to who's playing. The way I put it is, I'm an equal-opportunity scorer. We'll score any way we can. I'm not married to taking a quarterback who can't run and making him run, or taking a quarterback who can't throw and making him throw. It's not about style. It's about substance. And it's 'How are we going to score points?'"
Which is, of course, what we've been saying about Kelly here for some time. The Eagles didn't hire Kelly because they wanted to see him run his high-speed Oregon offense in the NFC East. They hired him because he's shown a nimble coaching mind and an ability to find the best way to maximize advantages and win games.
Now, it's clear that Kelly favors speed, especially as it pertains to the ability to hit big plays on offense and score as many points as possible in a short period of time. But even if the Eagles stick with the slow-footed Nick Foles at quarterback they'll still have a ton of speed on offense with LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. It was also clear when listening to Kelly talk defense that tempo will govern a lot of his personnel decisions.
"We're going to be an attacking-style defense," Kelly said, without committing to a 4-3 or a 3-4 alignment. "A group of people that dictates the tempo of the game."
Kelly also said a lot about how he's not a GM and has no interest in controlling the player-acquisition end of the business. More than once, he said, "I'm just a football coach." But if you're looking for clues as to the way the Eagles will operate on game day under Kelly, I think you can expect some aspects of what he did at Oregon to factor into it.
He obviously wants to score points and move the ball quickly. That doesn't require a running quarterback, just one who can run the offense smoothly, getting the team to the line as quickly as possible and making sure everyone's on the same page. It will require a quarterback who can stay cool under pressure and make the right decisions in tight time windows. For that reason, it's not fair to assume the hiring of Kelly increases the chances that Michael Vick remains on the roster and plays quarterback. It's possible, sure, but far from certain, especially given the financial aspects of keeping Vick at this point.
Besides, Kelly knows Foles from having coached against him when Foles was at Arizona, and Kelly thinks highly of him. Kelly called Foles "tough" and gushed at the memories of plays Foles made against his defense in the Pac-12.
"I'm a huge fan of his," Kelly said of Foles. "He's tough. He's a competitor. He's accurate. And I'm excited about that."
Asked a moment later about Vick specifically, Kelly said to his questioner: "I'm going to look at everybody. If you can throw the ball and run, I'll take you out there."
The lesson? Too early to know. I think you can glean a few things about what Kelly wants to do and how he wants to coach from what we know and what he said Thursday. I think training camp for the Eagles this year is going to be heavy on conditioning, since I think the goal is going to be to run as many offensive plays as possible in games. But I don't think it's fair to speculate on who'll play quarterback or what that player will be asked to do, since I don't think Kelly or the Eagles know yet.
Lots of questions still to answer, but the one I keep coming back to is this: In your introductory news conference as an NFL head coach, you can't put on a jacket and tie? I mean, not that it matters in terms of what kind of coach he's going to be, but it did seem weird that the writers in the crowd were dressed better than the man of the hour was.
Anyway, that's just me. Much more on Kelly to come in the coming weeks, months, etc.