Excerpt from Speed Kills: Breaking Down the Chip Kelly Offense

I hope you’re as excited as I am about the release of my upcoming book Speed Kills: Breaking Down the Chip Kelly Offense. The pre-sale has closed, so if you didn’t get a chance to reserve your copy, you’ll have to wait until the release date of April 8.

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins

Until then, here’s a short passage from the book to hold you over. This is from the chapter on the inside zone and how it fits into Kelly’s offense.

It probably comes as no surprise that a large percentage of Chip Kelly’s offense involves a zone running scheme. However, most fans and casual observers would be surprised to find out that instead of the zone read, it’s the version of the scheme in its most basic from, the inside zone.

There are a couple of really good reasons for this.

First of all, like everything else in Kelly’s offense, the zone is all about simplicity and repetition. NFL practice time restrictions are even tighter after the latest collective bargaining agreement, and in a way, Kelly needs to act as part head coach, and part economist, figuring out what schemes offer the best return on investment, especially given the shortage of time he has to work with each week.

Sure, he could go back to the drawing board each week and come up with something brand new and completely out of left field, but the reality is that his guys would have to learn them, which takes time, time that would be better spent improving on what his guys are already good at.

There’s also the other big part of this offense, which of course, is SPEED. No-huddle teams, in college and now increasingly in the NFL, love to get up to the line and go as quickly as possible, trying to catch the defense before they line up. That all sounds great in theory, but the reality is that your success as an offense in these situations is heavily dependent on what type of play you call.

If you’re going so fast that the defenders aren’t in their normal pre-snap positions, you run the risk of confusing your own guys up front. This is compounded if you’re running a man-blocking scheme or even a power play with a guard pulling around, if your linemen look up and their man isn’t there, they hesitate, opening up a big hole in the line.

All of a sudden, that speed and numbers advantage you had at the snap is all for naught, as a single linebacker leaks through the blockers and stuffs the runner in the backfield for a three-yard loss.

The best way to reduce hesitation up front is to, once again, keep it simple, and let your guys just go play. The basic gist of the inside zone play is that your linemen are heading the same direction no matter whether they’re covered or not, whether that defender at the next level is lined up where you thought he’d be or not.

If your guys aren’t hesitating, or stopping to think where their man is going to be, they end up, repeat after me, playing faster.

Long story short, the inside zone is exactly the kind of run scheme that Kelly would’ve drawn up if it hadn’t already been invented. The play and the offense fit together too well.


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