When Andy Reid takes his place on the visitor’s sideline Thursday night, he might get a sense of deja vu as he glances over at the Eagles’ sideline.
Looking over there, he’ll peer into the eyes of Chip Kelly, the man considered by many to be the most innovative coach in the NFL. Funny thing is, the two men are friends. Reid even reached out to Kelly after he replaced him in Philadelphia.
“I talked to Andy when I got the job, and he said to be yourself,” Kelly said. “I told him I had big shoes to fill, and he said you’ll do a good job, and that was it.”
Reid admitted he’s been impressed with Kelly so far.
“I think Chip’s done a phenomenal job with it,” Reid said. “He’s got a great offensive mind and scheme. This is no fluke, by any means, or anything else. He’s taken his personnel, he’s utilized to the best of their abilities, and put out a nice product.”
It wasn’t that long ago that Reid was doing the same thing. The former Eagles coach was lauded for his unique take on the classic West Coast offense, filled with short screens and double tight-end sets. The formula led to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl.
“I have great respect for Andy,” Kelly said. “He was the head coach here for 14 years, and if you’re a coach in the NFL, anybody that coaches at one spot for 14 years you look to them and say, ‘Holy smokes.’
“You just walk down the hall ways and look at the division championships won here, the division championships, conference championships and what he’s done. He’s had a huge impact on this organization, and I’ve got a ton of respect for him.”
Kelly, in his first season with the Eagles, is driving defensive coordinators mad with his up-tempo scheme. He cares little for convention, often running plays in under 20 seconds and getting the maximum amount of snaps he can in a game. Kelly loves striking quickly with slants and bubble screens, while keeping the defense off-balance with the threat of the read-option.
Maybe more than that, it’s his overall approach that is turning heads. Kelly blares pop music at practices, employs a sport science coach and puts an extreme emphasis on proper nutrition and conditioning.
Great minds must think alike then. Turns out, Reid is incorporating some of Kelly’s principles in Kansas City. He ran a form of the ‘pistol offense’ last week against Dallas, which played to Alex Smith’s strengths.
“This isn’t a cookie-cutter offense. It’s not what they ran in Philly,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said in July. “It’s not what he ran in Green Bay when he was there. He’s gonna try and tailor it to our strengths, and what we do well.”
Sure, part of it is personnel. But another part is evolution. Reid is adapting to the game of football as the game of football changes around him.
“Life is continuously changing, that’s all part of it,” Reid said. “There are certain things you hold strong to and there are other things that you go with that might be a little bit better, and that you can learn from. I thought change would be good.
“I thought it would be good for the Eagles and, we’re in the process here, I figured it would be good for the Chiefs so I’m part of the Chiefs and you go back and evaluate everything, and look at things and what the game is today and where it’s going. There are still some things that we’re really focused on and some things the guys are good at, and some of those superficial things that are kind of part of the time right now.”