COMMENTARY | One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains it's former dimensions - Oliver Wendell Holmes
One would assume that Holmes had Chip Kelly and his football mind running through his brain when he said those words some hundred years ago.
Chip Kelly is flamboyant, eccentric, and enigmatic in every sense possible. His team is regarded as one of the must watch teams in 2013, and mostly due to the lack of certainty surrounding them.
Kelly brings a unique style of play to the NFL, one that may never have been seen before. Fans and opposing teams have seen sprinkles of what Kelly's offense is capable of in the off season, as well as what they've seen in college. However, Kelly wasn't about to show his entire hand during the open training camp sessions, or preseason games; all meaningless events that would do him or his team any good by showing the world just exactly what's up his sleeve.
We saw something similar last year in Washington with Robert Griffin, III and the Redskins. Mike Shannahan; known profoundly for his zone blocking scheme run-heavy offense, ran mostly a read-option west coast style offense; one to fit the skill set of his franchise quarterback.
While Kelly may not have his long-term franchise quarterback on the roster at this moment, he has one in Michael Vick who is capable of allowing Kelly to fully utilize his wide open offensive playbook. Kelly is a bold head coach, Vick is a bold quarterback. Both men make decisions on the field that at first leave fans and opposing teams turning their heads sideways like a confused puppy, then, as the masterpiece unfolds, they begin to realize just how smart they can be.
Michael Vick outplays Robert Griffin, III -- Vick is heading into a game against the Redskins on national television with an offense that the 'Skins don't know very much about. In six career starts against Washington, Vick is 3-1 with 805 passing yards, eight touchdowns and just two interceptions. Vick has also scored two rushing touchdowns, accumulating over 100 yards total on the ground.
While Vick has shown his fragility over the past two seasons as the Eagles' full-time starting quarterback, Robert Griffin, III. is no iron man himself. Griffin, coming off a season-ending knee injury suffered in the playoffs against the Seahawks, will be seeing his first live contact since January, and could fall like a house of cards with one hit. Vick is expected to be more exposed to taking hits in Monday night's game than Griffin is, due to his recent injury, so it could trouble Vick early, especially if his protection breaks down in front of him.
However, Vick looks comfortable running Kelly's offense, and for a team in the Redskins that only got to see a small dosage of what's to come Monday night, It could spell trouble for the home team. Taking into considerations Vick's past success at FedEx Field, The Redskins could be in for a long night come Monday.
Vick's Projected Monday Night Stat Line - 18-33 246 yards 2 TDs 1 INT , 13 rushes 73 yards 1 TD
LeSean McCoy will surpass 150 rushing yards -- LeSean McCoy, entering his fifth season in the league, is beginning his trend upward as one of the best overall backs in the entire league. However, The Redskins have been a team that has Shady's number as of late. McCoy has only ran for 100+ yards against the 'Skins one time in his five year career; back in week 6 of the 2011 season where he ran for 126 yards and a touchdown.
McCoy looked unstoppable at times in the preseason in Kelly's new run-oriented offense, and surely will be utilized much more than he was in Andy Reid's pass happy west coast-based offensive scheme.
In two contests against Washington in 2012, McCoy ran the ball 28 times for 90 yards and zero touchdowns. In fact, the last time McCoy scored a rushing touchdown against any divisional opponent was December 24, 2011 against the New York Giants.
In this particular case, history doesn't look as if it will be repeating itself. As mentioned before, The Redskins aren't 100% sure as to what they're exactly up against with Kelly's new offense, having only seen a snippet of what he'll do with the ground game. Expect McCoy to get touches early and often to help set the pace for more wide open plays through the air with Vick.
If the Redskins are expecting a lot of read option early, and McCoy is able to rack up a few long, unexpected runs, he could easily be looking at a 150+ yard performance for the first time in his career against the division rival Redskins.
The Defense Holds Washington Under 20 Points -- This Eagles defense remains the biggest question heading into Monday's match up. Experts from all around the league, including the media have said that this Eagles defense may even be worse than last year's unit, one of top-5 worst defenses in the entire league.
When fully healthy, the Eagles showcase one of the strongest linebacking corps in the entire league. If new free agent acquisition Connor Barwin, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, and tweener Trent Cole can contain RG3 and Alfred Morris, as well as the intermediate passing game, the Eagles could be looking at escaping fairly unscaved against a tough divisional opponent.
Outside of the strong linebacking group, the Eagles have huge concerns in the secondary. With neither Cary Williams or Bradley Fletcher looking all too polished during the preseason, as well as the safety positions looking abysmal at times, this team certainly has their work cut out for them.
However, With second-year defensive end Fletcher Cox teamed up with Isaac Sopoaga and Cedric Thornton on the defensive line, with Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham spelling them in passing situations -- a unit that looked polished in the preseason -- The Eagles could exploit a suspect Redskins offensive line.
The Outcome --
If the Redskins truly do plan on keeping their franchise dual-threat quarterback healthy, expect them to give Alfred Morris and Evan Royster a heavy workload early in the game. Allowing the Eagles secondary to get comfortable without much pressure to begin the game could work in the Eagles favor in the long run. If Vick can maintain composure in the pocket and not force plays to happen when there is nothing there, There's no reason Chip Kelly can't leave FedEx Field with his first career NFL win on Monday Night
Eagles 27 Redskins 21
Chris is the Lead College Football writer for www.edraft.com and also runs the new NFL Draft site www.scoutingthedraft.com. Chris has covered college football, the NFL, and the NFL Draft for over 9 years for multiple media outlets. His work has been seen on SI.com and USA TODAY Sports. Chris has also been covering the Philadelphia Eagles extensively since 2009.
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- LeSean McCoy