PHILADELPHIA -- The numbers seem to contradict each other when it comes to figuring out how effective Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense has been so far.
When it comes to running plays quickly, the Philadelphia Eagles are second only to Buffalo. They have run a play every 22.2 seconds they have possessed the ball, which suggests Kelly is getting what he wants.
However, the Eagles are tied for 15th in the league in total number of offensive plays run. After that eye-popping 53-play first half at Washington, the Eagles have run 146 plays from scrimmage. Their opponents have run 205 plays since halftime in Washington.
“They're running a lot more plays and we're not running enough plays,” Kelly said. “That's what I mean. That's the whole argument that I've always had with the time of possession, because a team can hold it for 40 minutes, if they run the same amount of plays, that's a different deal. Right now, we’re not running enough plays on offense. We're turning the ball over too much offensively, we're not executing the way we're supposed to execute, and that's what we have to do to be able to keep our defense off the field.”
New England is tops after three games with 225 offensive plays.
Kelly dismisses time of possession as meaningless, but there is an obvious correlation between possession and the number of plays possible. The Eagles are dead last in the NFL in possession time at 24 minutes, 25 seconds per game.
Interestingly, the Bills, the only team running plays faster, are next worst in time of possession.
As pointed out by my colleague Jeff Legwold, who covers the Denver Broncos for ESPN.com, the Eagles have had only one three-and-out possession that ended with a punt. The drives that are too short and add stress to the defense have been marred by penalties and turnovers.
In terms of sheer numbers, the Broncos’ secondary doesn’t look very good. Denver has given up 327 passing yards per game, four more yards than the Eagles.
But the Broncos have broken up or intercepted 20 passes in the three games. That’s tied for best in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The yardage is a natural consequence of teams trying to play catchup with the Peyton Manning-led offense, but there are playmakers in the Denver secondary.
One of them, irony of ironies, is cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who drifted aimlessly through two seasons with the Eagles before signing with the Broncos. Rodgers-Cromartie has one interception and has made nine tackles. He is likely to spend much of his Sunday afternoon covering DeSean Jackson.
“I anticipate they'll play against each other at least a portion of the game,” Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “He's one of the outstanding talents in this league. He runs extremely well. He can get in your hip and run with you. He's got outstanding ball skills. All the same things that he had before he went to Denver, you can still see on tape.”
The Eagles officially listed safety Patrick Chung as Doubtful after he failed to practice again Friday. Chung injured a shoulder in the game against Kansas City last week. Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis seemed to expect him to be able to practice by week's end, but it didn’t happen.
“I look forward to it,” Wolff said of the challenge of facing Manning. “I’ll be competing on every play. If we do our assignment and our technique, I feel like we’ll be OK.”