PHILADELPHIA (AP) — That jaw-dropping, eye-popping frenetic pace the Philadelphia Eagles showed in Chip Kelly’s debut can be even faster.
Kelly’s hurry-up offense sparkled in his NFL debut as the Eagles opened the season with a 33-27 win over the defending NFC East-champion Washington Redskins on Monday night.
Michael Vick and Co. executed Kelly’s don’t-stop-for-a-breath offense with precision and efficiency, running 53 plays in the first half and racking up 443 total yards. While the rest of the league and a national television audience watched in awe the way the Eagles moved at lightning speed, Kelly sees room for improvement.
“I felt like it was slow, to be honest with you,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I’m not joking. We’ve got to do a better job. We left the ball on the ground too much. We didn’t get the ball to the officials. We could have sped things up from a process between plays. That’s something we need to continue to work on.”
It looked like Kelly was still coaching Oregon against Pac-10 opponents in the first half. The Eagles controlled the ball 20:20 and averaged 2.6 plays per minute. They outgained RG3 and the Redskins 322-75, had a 21-3 edge in first downs and led 26-7.
Still, it was the first real test for Philadelphia under Kelly. There’s still a learning process and players should get more familiar with the way he wants the offense to move as they gain experience in it.
“I saw a team play their first game,” Kelly said. “I was pleased, but we still have got a lot of work to do. There’s so many things we can continue to work on.”
That should be bad news for other teams.
People wondered for eight months how Kelly would fare at the pro level after having tremendous success at Oregon. When he finally unveiled his high-octane philosophy, Kelly showed off the play designs that earned him a reputation for being an offensive innovator.
The Eagles used numerous formations in Kelly’s read-zone attack, including some that surely have defensive coordinators baffled. Kelly lined up both of his offensive tackles wide for one play and put them on the same side for another. It’s not just the plays that are unique, but also the signals for some of them.
Kelly has coaches putting up flash cards to relay signs to the offense. One placard has a picture of the Phillie Phanatic and another has Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky character.
“We don’t always run the same play. We don’t always have the same options. I think that’s what makes the defense have to be very honest in terms of how they play,” Kelly said. “If there’s always one way to do it, there’s always going to be one way to defend it.
“We have a wide variety in terms of how we can do it.”
Vick was outstanding, throwing for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 54 yards and another score. LeSean McCoy had 184 of the team’s 263 yards rushing along with one TD. DeSean Jackson caught seven passes for 104 yards and one touchdown.
“They were having a hard time lining up,” McCoy said of the Redskins defense. “You can definitely know when a defense is tired, as they’re going down you’re hiking the ball. The tempo really worked. I don’t think anyone has seen it that fast.”
With a big lead, Kelly slowed things down considerably in the second half to run time off the clock. The Redskins rallied and would’ve had a chance to win it at the end if they had recovered an onside kick.
“As I get a better feel for our guys, they get a better feel for us, it’s something that you’re always going to continue to work on,” Kelly said of clock management. “Four-minute offense, so to speak, is just as important as the two-minute offense.
NOTES: CB Bradley Fletcher sustained a concussion vs. the Redskins. His status for Sunday’s game against San Diego (0-1) is uncertain. The Eagles signed CB Brandon Hughes to fill out their 53-man roster. Hughes was released Saturday so his contract for this season isn’t guaranteed. ... The Eagles won their home opener last year, 24-23 over Baltimore.