A short week is a tall order. That goes without saying in the NFL when the weekly toll taken by players requires a full week of rest and therapy, but the show, as they say, must go on. That means the Kansas City Chiefs must suit up, ready or not, to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.
But this is no ordinary opponent. Of any team on the Chiefs regular season schedule, perhaps the one with the greatest learning curve for the coaching staff to plan for is the one with Chip Kelly as head coach. The former Oregon coach came into the NFL with a reputation as an offensive guru, a creative force who could potentially revolutionize the NFL. Two weeks into the season, the results are mixed at 1-1, but it's clear that Kelly's offense knows how to move the chains.
After two weeks, the Eagles are second in the NFL in yards/game with 477. They're second in the NFL in rushing and tenth in passing, and anyone who caught either game could see that Kelly is getting the most out of talented players like Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy.
One of the more difficult aspects of Kelly's offense is the speed with which the Eagles can move the ball. While it's hard for the Eagles offense to keep up such a pace for long, Vick and company are able to keep defenses gassed and confused with their up-tempo playcalling. After watching the Eagles win over the Redskins in Week 1, the Chargers coaching staff took an interesting direction in practice to prepare for Kelly's schemes.
According to Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times, the Chargers trained the defense to read and react as fast as Kelly's offense can move:
Instead of getting a long look at the formation they were facing, defensive players turned their backs to the offense and instead trained their eyes on defensive coordinator John Pagano.
When the offense was set, Pagano would give his players the signal to turn around, and they had roughly two seconds to make the proper adjustments before the ball was snapped. The Eagles had speed, and the Chargers had speed-readers.
It will be interesting to see if Chiefs head coach Andy Reid employs a similar technique in the Chiefs practice this week. Compared to the Chargers defensive unit, the Chiefs should automatically fare much better given the level of talent present on the defense. The Chiefs have already demonstrated their defensive prowess through two games and is easily the best defensive unit the Eagles have faced in 2013. Still that doesn't mean the Chiefs will be ready without specific preparations.
The reality is that the Chiefs are facing the Eagles at an interesting time. After Week 1, Kelly was given the game ball and hailed as the architect of the NFL's future. After Week 2, the Eagles had lost and Kelly admitted he has some things to learn. Yet even in the loss, Vick and McCoy were nearly unstoppable and the Chiefs should be concerned.