By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The first quarter of the Eagles 33-27 win over Washington was both the fastest and slowest thing you’ve ever seen.
The Eagles moved on offense at a pace that has rarely, if ever, been seen in the NFL, especially in the first quarter (though Kelly still thinks it was slow). Because they ran so many plays, so quickly, the quarter itself seemed to take forever. The game felt like it would be football’s version of a Yankees vs. Red Sox Sunday night marathon.
For Washington linebacker London Fletcher, it was a nightmare.
“I felt like I played 60 plays the first half. I’ll tell you one thing, that first quarter was the longest first quarter of my life,” Fletcher told the NFL Network on Wednesday. “It was a situation where, I look up and it’s maybe about seven minutes left and I’m thinking, we should be in the second quarter by now. Today I feel pretty good. I didn’t feel like I got tired or anything like that, but it was definitely a different type of pace than we’re used to in the National Football League.”
Fletcher, 38 years old, has seen almost everything in the NFL. It might be the first time he’d seen signs with pictures of Rocky and The Fresh Prince on an opponents sideline, if he had noticed them on the Eagles sideline.
“This is my first time seeing them [the sideline playcards]. I paid zero attention to their sidelines because I knew, you know, they would have a bunch of cards up there,” Fletcher said. “They would have a bunch of hands signals and things like that taken place, so I needed to focus on what I was doing from a defensive standpoint, get the calls, get us lined up. I couldn’t pay attention to their cards.”
As far as how successful the offense will continue to be in the NFL, Fletcher has mixed feelings.
“One of the things that I was concerned about, with running this type of offense in the National Football League, in college you have so many players. You have over a hundred on your football team, but in the National Football League you only have 53 players and on game day you only dress 46 guys, particularly half of them are defense, half of them are offensive guys,” Fletcher said of one of the possible downfalls of Kelly’s offense. “So, that was the thing that I was most concerned about. Will they be able to sustain this type of pace for 16 games, and I’m sure Chip Kelly has a plan in place that he’ll do throughout the week of practice to keep those guys fresh, but that pace is something we’ll have to keep and pay attention to throughout the course of the season.”
As for the positives, Fletcher thinks the offense might actually prevent injuries.
“One of the great things about Chip Kelly’s offense, is because they spread you out so much, often times it’s not that physical type of football that you get play in and play out in the National Football League, where the running backs are getting hit by multiple defenders, or the quarterback is being hit by multiple defenders and the receivers as well. Most of the time it’s one-on-one tackles, it’s guys tackling guys in space, the sideline, things like that to protect them from being hit so much by multiple defenders,” Fletcher said. “It’s a great concept because he forces you to play a—defend the whole football field and play 11-on-11 football, and not only that, you still have to be able tackle one-on-one, whether it’s LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, or even Michael Vick.”