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Eagles' Kelly is no one-trick pony

We keep hearing Chip Kelly wants to run a read-option offense, but he really just wants to win.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. (Matt Rourke/AP)Read more

THE FUNNY thing about some story lines is that once they get started, they never change - even if there is evidence to the contrary.

From the day he was hired to Sunday's pregame and in-game broadcast of the Eagles' 34-20 Snow Bowl win over Detroit, pundits and fans have told us what Chip Kelly wants to do with the Eagles' offense.

Despite Kelly saying the read option is a play, not an offensive philosophy, they keep saying Kelly wants to run the read-option offense.

Even after Kelly pointed out that he adapted his offense to fit the skill sets of the quarterback he had at the University of Oregon, the idea is still out there that Nick Foles - despite throwing for 1,970 yards, 20 touchdowns and just one interception in seven starts and 218 pass attempts - is not the type of quarterback who can thrive under Kelly.

So what am I missing? Despite Kelly doing little of what people keep saying he wants to do, the Eagles are 8-5.

With an offense that can in no way be classified as the read option and with a quarterback who is about as fleet-footed as a turtle, the Eagles are third in the NFL in total offense (409.3 yards per game) and tied for ninth in scoring (25.7 points per game).

Still, I keep hearing what Chip Kelly wants to do.

"The interesting thing is I didn't write the narrative," Kelly said yesterday during his weekly day-after news conference. "The only thing we want to do is score points, and we're an equal-opportunity scorer.

"If we've got to throw it to get in; if we've got to run it to get in, we'll run it to get it in. I don't think a touchdown looks different no matter how you get them, whether it's Nick Foles on a half-yard quarterback sneak or it's Nick throwing a bomb to DeSean [Jackson]."

It's not anyone's fault that Kelly has been pigeonholed.

He came to the Eagles with no NFL experience and the only narrative to start with was the dynamic offense he ran at Oregon.

I think a lot of it had to do with the whole college-to-professional-football thing and the automatic perception that Kelly was coming to show that what he did at Oregon could be done in the NFL.

That was the primary angle about Kelly, and it simply has not changed.

Two weeks ago, before his team played the Eagles, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made some noise by saying the read option was a "great college offense."

The Eagles did not use the read option to beat the Cardinals, 24-21.

The thing that has been lost in much of the conversation is the thing Kelly did best at Oregon: win. That was the only aspect of what he did at Oregon to which he was absolutely married.

After looking at the players on the Eagles' roster, Kelly knew that he was going to have to do some adapting.

That's been a hard concept for people who follow the Eagles to digest, and who can blame us?

For the previous 14 years, we saw Andy Reid take every player, no matter how square, and try to make him fit into his round-peg offense. Reid never changed to fit his personnel.

Let's be honest: Reid never would have made the in-game adjustment to stop trying to run outside in the snow and have LeSean McCoy just go behind his nasty offensive linemen and attack the Lions' vaunted run defense.

In the worst possible conditions for rushing, Kelly adapted his offense in a way that McCoy could set a franchise record with 217 rushing yards and score on two long runs.

Kelly has adjusted his philosophy to match the talents of the players he has, instead of trying to do the reverse.

That is evident in the way Foles has performed since he took over for an injured Michael Vick. It was really just common sense for Kelly to recognize that Foles, without the running ability of Vick, was going to need to have the offense altered a bit to emphasize the things he could do best.

The results speak for themselves. Foles is a two-time NFC Offensive Player of the Week and was the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November. He tied an NFL record by throwing seven touchdown passes at Oakland. Foles still leads the league in passer rating at 120.0.

"Thank goodness we didn't follow the narrative because that's not what we're all about," Kelly said. "We're about what do we have to do to win this week, and that's always our focus every single week as an offensive staff.

"We try to put a plan together that our players can execute, and then they go out and execute it."