We won’t truly know how the Chip Kelly era with the Philadelphia Eagles is going to look, especially on offense, until we get to see them in week 1, but with their first round draft pick known for his versatility and athleticism, the early workout have been showing some interesting offensive line looks for the team.
With Kelly, the Eagles are running their offense almost entirely out of the shotgun, with a few rare plays under center. It seem they are struggling with the snap at the moment, or at least Julian Vandervelde is, needing to work on his timing with Michael Vick, while Matt Barkley has shown some impressive pump faking skills. But the most interesting looks have been in the offensive line itself, as Lane Johnson gets to lineup in a very nontraditional way.
Kelly is an nontraditional coach, especially in the way he runs offenses, which worked as good as anyone could imagine during his four years as the Oregon head coach, winning two BCS Bowl games and reaching another national title game as well. While the NFL is a little bit rougher on former college head coaches who like to experiment, Kelly isn’t going to back down from his own system and views on how offense should be played, even if it does require a little tweaking.
When you have an athletic freak, as everyone keeps referring to Lane Johnson as, on your team, you need to make a special use of him. So during one day of their OTAs, the Eagles used Johnson as a blocker, but not next to the other four linemen.
He was positioned away from the line, pretty much like a tight end or almost a slot receiver, and ran a quick wide receiver screen to his side. They pretty much use Johnson as a blocker against cornerbacks who give up 100 pounds when facing the former Oklahoma player.
But that wasn’t the only special look. Kelly has used offensive lines with two right tackles, a center, while a guard and a tight end lineup left of the center. At first, this seems like a complicated scheme that might backfire, especially early on, but it shows how out-of-the-box Kelly is when it comes to offense, and how he doesn’t believe in a traditional five-man offensive line with the same positioning every time. If it takes the Eagles back to the top of the NFC East, he’ll be called a genius. If not, well, things will probably get nasty very quickly.