Is the Philadelphia Eagles' Offensive Approach Sustainable over a Full Season?

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 9, 2013

It would be premature to draw definitive conclusions about Chip Kelly's long-term plans for the Philadelphia Eagles offense based solely on his team's 33-27 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.

So far, so good. The Eagles are tied with 15 teams atop the NFL standings and are sitting in first place when it comes to entertainment. In the first half against the Redskins, the offensive tempo was unprecedented.

Four teams ran 53 or fewer plays on Sunday. The Eagles ran 53 in the first half. LeSean McCoy had a career-high 31 rushes, which would put him at 496 on the year (not including receptions) if he maintained that absurd figure.  

Michael Vick threw 25 passes and ran nine times, winding up with three total touchdowns. The five scoring drives he led took an average of one minute and 44 seconds.

DeSean Jackson fell one catch short of a career high with seven receptions and 104 yards. And an offense that failed to reach the 30-point mark all of last season scored 31 despite a pair of turnovers.

Hell, Vick himself even threw two impressive blocks.

It was promising, refreshing and exciting, no doubt. But is it sustainable? 

Was it even sustainable Monday night? I mean, a win's a win, but the Redskins bailed the Eagles out time and again with turnovers on offense and missed tackles on defense. The offense slowed down as the game wore on and, coincidentally or not, became less effective in the second half. 

The presence of Bryce Brown might help McCoy, but can any running back handle that type of workload? We know Kelly loves to run the ball and run a lot of plays, but that can do a number on your backs when you're dealing with an NFL roster with only 46 active players, only a few of whom are running backs. 

The NFL season is also longer than the college season, and NFL hits are harder than Pac-12 hits. At Oregon, Kelly could get away with this. In the NFL, it might not be possible. 

Vick, who continues to possess a Derek Zoolander-like inability to slide, was hit hard far too often Monday night. He was limping and hobbling throughout the second half. This is a guy who has missed 13 games since 2010. Can his 33-year-old body really handle this for 16-plus weeks?

The answer is probably no, but we also don't know what to expect from Kelly going forward. Just because he pushed the tempo and ran it like a mad man Monday doesn't mean that'll be his strategy against San Diego in Week 2 or against Kansas City in Week 3 or against Dallas in Week 17.

Maybe Kelly just wanted to go shock and awe in his debut. He suggested during his postgame press conference that this was about the opponent. 

"We felt like this is what we needed to do early, just because they're such a potent offense. Is that what we would have to do every game? It really just depends on who you're playing."

Vick added that there will be games where the Eagles will "press for four quarters." That wasn't necessary Monday night, and it may or may not be realistic in the future. 

"I think the 30 carries is a lot," admitted McCoy. "But the type of game it was, we were up big so the only thing we really should have done in that type of situation is run the ball. I don't think I'll get another 31 (carry) type of game."

The Eagles don't have to adhere to one particular offensive scheme or mentality. In fact, doing so could be detrimental. If they don't mix things up from week to week and even from quarter to quarter, the wear and tear and potential for injuries will likely take its toll.


Postgame quotes obtained via coverage on NFL Network.