What would a Chip Kelly offense look like in Tampa Bay?
If and when Chip Kelly, as expected, signs on to become the next coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the most anticipated aspects of the move would be learning what kind of offensive attack he’ll employ.
Kelly is renowned at the college level for running an exciting brand of the spread offense that has become the envy of many. His offenses have consistently led the Pac-10 and been highly-ranked nationally in key categories, including scoring and total offense.
He clearly is on to something with his innovative approach to offense. Here’s the problem: The spread offense doesn’t translate in the NFL, and Kelly’s scheme will have to undergo major changes before he can use it in the pros. The athletes are simply too good. The mismatches just aren't as huge.
Now, there have been other college coaches who have made the jump to the NFL and brought many of their concepts with them. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll (USC) comes to mind, but his offense at Southern Cal was closer to a pro-style offense than the quick, uptempo spread used by Kelly. Also, Carroll wasn't the primary play-caller at USC as Kelly is at Oregon. The 49ers' Jim Harbaugh has made the transition, but while at Stanford, he ran a pro-style offense with a pro-style quarterback (Andrew Luck).
So, what should we expect as it relates to Kelly and the Bucs? It’s much too early to even speculate. But look for Kelly to assemble a staff that includes some experienced NFL assistants. This will make the transition to the pro game a bit easier for him, while allowing him to merge some of his principles with those that are more standard fare in the NFL.
And that’s where this has the potential to get really interesting. No matter what kind of offense Kelly installs in Tampa Bay, it would be foolish to think it won’t contain some of the elements he used so successfully at Oregon.
Does that mean we’ll see quarterback Josh Freeman toting the ball from a shotgun formation on a designed run? Maybe not. Then again, can we really rule it out?
I wrote a story during the season about how some NFL teams are incorporating some college-like elements in their schemes. There’s no reason to think that won’t continue.
The question is whether we’ll see that in Tampa Bay? With Kelly expected to climb aboard, we just might.