Putting it into practice (cont.)
If you watch Oregon’s offense it’s amazing how well the little details on plays are executed, the blocking, the routes, the timings, everything. The Ducks didn’t have to think about what they were doing, they could just play with incredible competency developed through thousands of repetitions in practice.
Oregon is known for their speedy athletes, and rightfully so, but it pales in comparison to how much faster they thought.
And how did Chip Kelly fully exploit this during games? By snapping the ball every 13 seconds.
While the Oregon players could focus entirely on just playing football, opposing defenses were stuck figuring out what was going on. Kelly says “If your head is moving, your feet are not”. Or as former a UCLA coach liked to say “paralysis by analysis”.
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Because of the tempo, coaches didn’t have time to make adjustments, substitutions, or help their players before the ball was snapped, which meant players were largely on their own.
Defenses were caught in a Catch 22: if you don’t make a decision quickly, you’ll be left in the dust. If you make the wrong decision or a mistake, you’re sure to be punished, putting immense pressure on the defense to play flawlessly. It all comes back to Kelly’s practices and the ability of his players to perform their roles at a high level of competency.
All that pace had another advantage as well, defensive players weren’t conditioned to keep up, and when players get tired they make more mistakes. In a game that can be decided by something as small as a missed tackle, it’s easy to see why Kelly was so successful. The Ducks performed with such a consistent proficiency that defenses could never hope to match.
To reiterate: Chip Kelly’s genius was in making a system his players could execute at a level opposing defenses could never hope to realistically match.