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September 14, 2015

Breakfast with the Birds: Can Chip turn the tables on Dan Quinn?

Eagles NFL

As technology has continually improved and the idea of the All-22 film breakdown has become more and more popular, perhaps no football coach has been studied as much as Chip Kelly. That is how things tend to go when you receive the mad scientist label.

When listening to film junkies describe Kelly’s up-tempo system, almost all of them will emphasize how the play designs are generally very simple. If there is a defensive version of Kelly’s offense currently in the NFL, it’s probably the Cover 3 scheme Pete Carroll has run so successfully in Seattle over the past three years.

Last season, the Seahawks and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn shut down Kelly, Mark Sanchez, and the Eagles in an important December game. Over at the team’s official website, there is a video in which Greg Cosell talks about how the Eagles might want to attack the Cover 3 defense that Quinn has installed in Atlanta. One thing that stands out is how Kelly and Quinn’s systems are becoming more common around the league.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to revisit what the Seahawks specifically did well against the Eagles this past December. That meant digging up Sheil Kapadia’s All-22 breakdown:

Asked this week if there was anything he wishes he would have done differently from a game plan/scheme perspective, Kelly said: "No, we just need to execute. When you go back through it, they do a good job. They don't fool you with anything they do. They line up and play football, and they are really, really good at doing that. You don't go back and look at it and say, ‘Hey, we should have run trap or we should have run this scheme.’ It's they executed and we didn't execute."

As shown above, the execution was not great. But that can't be the excuse every time the offense is a no-show. These are players, not robots. There are going to be errors in execution, specifically when the opposition is more talented, which was the case on Sunday.

The opposition tonight will be decidedly less talented than that Seattle group, so the Eagles should execute better against them. We won’t know for sure until later tonight, though. We’re almost there.

Prediction roundup

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports – Eagles 28, Falcons 24. “Sam Bradford takes over running Chip Kelly’s fast-tempo offense, which can be tough to prepare for as a defense. The Falcons have a new coach in Dan Quinn, who knows a thing about defense. But he lacks playmakers on that side of the ball. Bradford and company outscore Matt Ryan and Julio Jones and gang.”

CBS Sports Expert Picks – Picking against the spread of Eagles by 3.5, seven of the eight “experts” are laying the points and taking the Birds.

Elliot Harrison, — Eagles 29, Falcons 27. “Yet another Week 1 matchup that is no easy pickins'. I caught up with one of my editors in an effort to lean on his sage advice in determining a winner. "Eagles win," he said. “Why?" "Because they're a better team." Hard hittin' analysis right there, people.”

Phil Sheridan, – Eagles 33, Falcons 27. “Sam Bradford is excited to return to the field for his first meaningful game in almost two seasons. Eagles fans are excited to see what he can do in Chip Kelly’s offense. Despite the Falcons’ element of surprise, with a new coaching staff, the expectation is that Bradford will be able to do quite a bit.”

Vaughn McClure, (same post as Phil’s pick) — Falcons 31, Eagles 28. “The up-tempo offense of the Eagles will make life difficult on the Falcons initially, but a few timely stops by Dan Quinn's revamped defense also will put Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the offense on the field enough to wear down the Eagles. Ryan, probably not fully comfortable yet with the rebuilt offensive line, will take advantage of throwing on the move in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s scheme and will find Jones for some explosive plays. And tight end Jacob Tamme makes an impact in a high-scoring affair.” Expert Picks – Out of 13 experts and the pick em’ simulation, only three went against the Birds straight up. In a major upset, Merrill Hoge likes the Eagles to win. 

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated — Eagles 37, Falcons 23. “I like where Falcons rookie coach Dan Quinn has his team headed over the long haul. But in the short term, the Eagles and Chip Kelly look ready to make some serious noise in the NFC, and I have them slotted as my projected top seed in the conference. Sam Bradford had some miserable prime time experiences in St. Louis, but the ex-Rams quarterback will thoroughly enjoy his Monday night in the Georgia Dome, and his gaudy stat line will be the story of the game.”

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann