PHILADELPHIA - Eagles coach Chip Kelly's version of the read-option offense is the best-kept secret in town.
Ask Kelly, quarterback Michael Vick or any other player about what they have planned for this season and there are a lot of smiles and shoulder shrugs.
"It won't be too different from what you've seen (in the preseason)," Vick said with that ever-present grin. "But we'll spice it up a bit."
The one thing that's certain is that the time-management issues that plagued former coach Andy Reid's 14-year tenure with the Eagles shouldn't be a problem under Kelly.
During the preseason and throughout training camp, the Eagles didn't use offensive huddles. Players hustled to the line of scrimmage between plays and center Jason Kelce was usually firing a snap to Vick or quarterback Nick Foles with more than 10 seconds left on the 40-second play clock.
The goal is to run as many offensive plays as possible.
"It's all about plays run," Kelly said. "The more plays you run, the more opportunities you have to put the ball in the end zone. It's not about time of possession. All time of possession is is how much time can the other team waste?"
During the preseason, the Eagles averaged a league-high 74.25 plays per game and are hoping to come close to that during the regular season.
In 2012, New England led the NFL with 74.4 plays per game, well above the league average of 64.2. It was no coincidence that Patriots coach Bill Belichick asked for Kelly's advice on how to speed up his offense. Kelly's University of Oregon team averaged 82.8 plays per game last season.
Turns out there was a reason why Kelly has stressed the need for his players to get in the best shape possible. The revised training routines, protein smoothies, sleep studies and rest-and-recovery periods were to insure they could handle the frenetic pace that he intends to set this season.
It took the players some time to adapt.
"We're running so much, it's like a freakin' track meet out here," Eagles running back LeSean McCoy said during a minicamp workout earlier this year. "We need some extra guys so we can run a relay."
McCoy could be the player who benefits the most from this offense, however, because of the different run-to-pass ratio.
Where Reid's West Coast offense frequently used quick-hitting passes to gain first downs, Kelly could be running the ball at least 50 percent of the time. That means McCoy could have a shot at breaking his personal record of 1,309 rushing yards he set in 2011 and perhaps threaten the franchise record of 1,512 yards set by Wilbert Montgomery in 1979.
But Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will also utilize the talents of other players such as Vick, tight ends James Casey, Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, and wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Vick will also be doing his share of running. Jackson, one of the fastest players in the league, will be used in a number of roles.
"Coach Kelly has done a great job of seeing what I did earlier in my career and using my versatility to keep defenses off guard," Jackson said. "I'll be going in motion, running reverses, taking handoffs, lining up in the slot. He'll be moving me all over. I'm very excited."
So is former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.
Gruden, who will be in the TV booth for Monday's Eagles-Redskins game, has spent a lot of time over the years studying Kelly's offense and is looking forward to seeing how it translates to the NFL.
"When I first got fired (by Tampa Bay after the 2008 season), I thought about getting into college coaching," Gruden said on a conference call and during an interview with ESPN Radio. "I spent a lot of time studying with Chip and we became very good friends.
"Chip is a great coach, and he's a no-huddle guru and a spread-system master. This isn't the first no-huddle offense the NFL has ever seen, but he's going to mix his tempos and certainly put his spin on things for the entire length of football games. I'm telling you, you ain't seen nothing, yet."
While Kelly insisted he could tailor his offense around any quarterback, it's clear that Vick provides him with the opportunity to be much more creative than Nick Foles because of Vick's running ability.
Although Vick is the oldest player on the team at 33 - he's a few weeks older than long-snapper Jon Dorenbos and punter Donnie Jones - he's also one of the fastest. Having a quarterback who is a threat to run is a necessity in the read-option, where the quarterback can either hand off to the running back or keep the football and take off himself.
"You have more options and more opportunities in this offense," Vick said. "We're going to be able to psyche the defense out and not let them get too comfortable.
"This is what I came back (to the Eagles) for. I'm elated to have the opportunity to play for this team again and coach Kelly. I'm excited."
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