Chip Kelly Kicking Strategy Comes Up Short Against Vikings

Kelly MNOne week after turning in his best NFL coaching performance, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly failed to adjust Sunday against the Vikings and put for arguably his worst of the season. 

Chip Kelly coach scared Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, if not offensively, especially so on kickoffs. 

The first-year head coach known for his trademarked aggressiveness was so concerned about Vikings return man Cordarrelle Patterson breaking a kickoff return for a touchdown that he spotted Minnesota 30-35 yards by having Alex Henery kick it short all game long. 

In spite of his team converting just 5-of-13 opportunities to get off the field on third down defensively, Kelly exasperated the problem by conceding field position for fear of a big play from Patterson that could have turned the tide of the game in one fell swoop. 

Albeit a tide that didn't roll in the Eagles favor all game anyway.

“We were concerned going into the game with Patterson,” Kelly said. “Obviously, [he is] the best returner in the league. If you look at what he’s done during the season, even if you do kick it deep he takes it out and he’s got a 109-yard kickoff return. We knew how dangerous he was and we were just trying to keep the ball away from him.”

One has to wonder if Kelly has any faith in his kicker at this point. 

Earlier in the season in the thin air of Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver against the Broncos, Henery failed to kick the ball out of the endzone which resulted in Trindon Holliday returning one 105 yards a touchdown.

Last week against the Detroit Lions, Jeremy Ross returned two kickoffs for a touchdown in the snowy conditions of Lincoln Financial Field. 

Also, one can't ignore Patterson's paltry 33.3 yards per return average including a 109 yarder touchdown this season. 

With those disasters fresh in Kelly's mind, it's almost easy to understand his thought process but his timidness forced his defense to play with a shortened field on every possession. The result was the Vikings scoring three touchdowns on a field goal on all three possessions that began from their own 45-yard line or further down the field. 

“It’s definitely not the thing I want to do,” Henery said afterwards. “I want to hit the deep ball, but that’s the scheme we had all week and obviously we were sticking to it. We didn’t want [Patterson] or [punt returner Marcus Sherels] to take over the game in that aspect. We wanted to keep it in control.”

Kelly's conservativeness on special teams flew in the face of his decision to twice go for it on fourth-and-one, once in the red zone and once from the Eagles own 24-yard line.

For a head coach who put forth arguably his most complete coaching performance against the Lions last week, turned in his worst as a professional coach against the Vikings. 

The adjustments that were so critical against Detroit were non-existent against the Vikings, even in making the simple adjustment of simply once attempting to have Henery kick it out of the end zone in the dome in ideal conditions.  

 Matt Lombardo is the Editor-In-Chief of Eagledelphia and also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.


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