NFL Referees Getting In Top Shape For Kelly’s Eagles
By Ray Boyd
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Remember when Chip Kelly first arrived in Philadelphia and all the talk was about this lightning quick, fast paced no-huddle offense that Kelly was going to bring to the league? The NFL heard those rumblings and at the time, their stance was that officials were not going to speed up in anyway to accommodate that style.
After one season of chasing Kelly’s offense up and down the field, the NFL and it’s referees are changing their tune. Whether they like it or not, Kelly and his Eagles are going to play fast and the referees are going to have to keep up.
In response to Kelly’s offense, the NFL is putting it’s officials through a more rigorous off-season condition regiment to make sure that they are in the best physical shape possible to officiate higher paced games.
Former Eagle and current NFL Executive VP of Football Operations, Troy Vincent, spoke with NFL.com about the changes.
“You see the likes of Coach Kelly and that high tempo offense,” Vincent said. “They’re running rapid plays. The ball needs to be spotted rapidly and we want to make sure now that our officials are evolving to the pace of our game.”
It’s interesting to see the league doing a 180 degree turn on this stance. Last year, the talk was not conforming to Kelly and this year the league is trying to work out their officials to make sure they can call his games.
Is all of this really for one coach? The answer is no. The NFL is expecting Kelly’s style to permeate throughout much of the league. If one coach was running this up-tempo style, the league would more than likely stick with the status quo, but if the majority of the league starts to adopt a quicker pace, changes are going to be necessary.
John Clayton of ESPN wrote about a trend he is noticing among NFL offenses. There is a desire among coaches to run more plays this upcoming season. Despite Kelly’s fast paced reputation, the Eagles were not the team with the most plays ran per game. The Broncos and Patriots were the only two teams to average more than 70 plays per game. The Bills averaged 69.8 and the Redskins averaged 69.2.
The Eagles averaged 65.9 plays per game, but they also tended to score rather quickly and had a defense that struggled to get off the field for stretches early in the season. That number is expected to go up.
Clayton pointed to Mike McCarthy who mentioned that he would like to see his Green Bay team run 75 plays per game this season. Training Camps and Preseasons league-wide will be devoted to picking up the pace and amassing as many offensive plays as possible.
The NFL is certainly a copy cat league. Different fads and schemes come and go all the time. However, this quick response from the league makes this seem like a lot more than your common fad.
Last week, Pat Kirwan of CBSSports named Chip Kelly’s his 5th most influential person in the NFL and the most influential coach. These measures clearly support that sentiment.
Perhaps the days of judging the officials based on 40 time are approaching.
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