Now that Chip is gone, we can finally answer the question: Will Chip Kelly's offense work in the NFL?
One of the interesting storylines to Chip Kelly finally leaving the college game for the NFL is the question of whether his offense can work at the next level. Honestly, aside from how I feel about Chip leaving Oregon, I'm actually really excited to see how he does in Philadelphia.
Many NFL fans who don't follow the college game closely see the spread offense as just a way to get away with having a running back playing QB. Many of these same fans are the type who wonder whether Kelly would go after a guy like Tim Tebow to run his offense. Chip Kelly has always said he prefers a quarterback who can run, not a running back who can throw. I assure you that there is no way in hell that Tebow ends up on a Chip Kelly team.
Eagles fans may be surprised to learn that Chip Kelly only started tinkering with the spread while he was OC at New Hampshire because he didn't have a fullback. He ran the system he did at Oregon because the Ducks have no in-state recruiting pipeline and couldn't beat the USCs of the world for elite orthodox recruits. While I believe that Kelly will use a spread of sorts in the NFL, he's not as wedded to his system as many think he is. What Kelly is wedded to, and what he will take with him to the league, is the uptempo, no-huddle that stresses a defense. But I expect Kelly's offense to look different than it did at Oregon. It would not shock me if he picked Nick Foles over Michael Vick at quarterback, because passing skills are going to be the most important factor in the decision.
Far more interesting than who Kelly chooses as QB ware the playmakers he possesses in Philly. He's going to have three guys in Philly--LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackon, and Jeremy Maclin, who are lightning-quick, multi-dimensional players. There is nothing difficult about what Chip Kelly has run. Its the pace and tempo that make it look electric. It's when you get a DeSean Jackson the ball in space against a tired defense that special things happen. I would also expect Kelly to continue his thoughts about going for it on fourth and short when you are anywhere near midfield. That's math far moreso than it is anything else, and to see someone in the league who isn't afraid to take those chances will be refreshing.
I don't know that Kelly is going to succeed at the next level. But I'm excited to see him try. But his successes and failures aren't going to be determined by a quarterback who can't throw, or by trying to run a quarterback 20 times a game. People have failed trying to push "their" system on the NFL. Kelly is a guy that will take his players and use it to build a system.