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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Inside Slant: Time between snaps

By Kevin Seifert

As the Philadelphia Eagles surge toward the playoffs with an offense that was the talk of the summer, it's worth looking at one aspect that was expected to set the NFL world on fire: Its tempo. More specifically: The speed with which they move from one play to the next.

All teams, of course, want to move quickly through their huddle, to the line and into their play. (Unless they are intentionally trying to drain the clock, naturally.) The less time the defense has to rest and identify formations, the better.

Excited observers believed the Eagles would take that approach to a new level, just as coach Chip Kelly's offense did at Oregon. So what can we say after seeing Kelly's scheme through 13 games? In short: The Eagles are running plays faster than any NFL team, but they have not created a new template for tempo at the professional level.

Below I've listed the five teams with the lowest amount of real time between snaps this season. For context, I've also given you the five "slowest" teams based on the same parameters, as recorded by ESPN Stats & Information. You'll see there is about a 10-second disparity between the quickest and most plodding teams.

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The Eagles are setting this season's pace, and no team has finished with a number below 33 seconds over a season in the four previous years of data ESPN has stored. But for as much hype as the Eagles' offense has brought, it's worth noting that the Buffalo Bills were actually getting their plays off faster during the first seven weeks of the season before they were consumed by quarterback injuries.

Last season, meanwhile, the Patriots used an average of 33.5 seconds in real time between plays. It wasn't as quick as the Eagles this season, but it's too close to suggest the Eagles have introduced a revolutionary approach.