Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs-49ers Scouting Report, Week 7: Chip Kelly is too predictable

[Getty Images]

[Getty Images]

What if Chip Kelly had accepted the Bucs coaching job in January 2012?

Maybe Tampa Bay would have won a few more games. Maybe Marcus Mariota would be the quarterback, not Jameis Winston. Maybe Kelly would have tried to trade everyone, including Captain Fear.

All we know for sure is that the Bucs would have had to endure what has become an annual tradition: Chip-Kelly-is-going-back-to-college rumors.

With the 49ers off to a 1-5 start in Kelly's first season in San Francisco, his detractors are once again seizing the opportunity to ridicule him and suggest he doesn't belong in the NFL.

"He just keeps running the same s---, and it isn't fooling anybody," an unnamed league executive said in a CBS Sports story this week.

The easy take is that Kelly's schemes and smoothies don't translate to the NFL. His influence, however, is undeniable. Take note of the proliferation of no-huddle and read-option offenses. First, teams ignore. Then they copy.

That's not to say Kelly is flawless. Philadelphia spent its offseason trying to undo nearly every personnel decision he made. Players and analysts also called his offense predictable and repetitive.

In San Francisco, the criticism of his play calls has persisted. On this point, the NFL executive quoted above is correct.

A caveat before we go to the All-22 coaches film: One could blame the 49ers' offensive struggles on a barren roster and the players' lack of execution. While Kelly managed in the past to extract meaningful contributions from Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez, Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick have been even steeper challenges.

Among the 31 quarterbacks who have attempted at least 90 passes, Gabbert has the third-worst completion percentage, second-worst interception rate, second-worst passer rating and fewest yards per pass attempt. Kaepernick didn't fare much better Sunday, his first start of the season. While he didn't turn the ball over in the 45-16 loss to the Bills, he was just as ineffective as Gabbert, overthrowing and underthrowing receivers all afternoon.

Despite the inconsistent quarterback play, coaching, as Kelly has said, is about one thing: creating an environment in which a player has the opportunity to be successful. A series of play calls against the Cardinals two weeks ago raises doubts about whether Kelly is succeeding in creating that environment.

The first play we'll review is from early in the second quarter. On first and 10, the 49ers came to the line in the pistol formation. Three receivers lined up on the right.

The two outermost receivers ran deep vertical routes while Jeremy Kerley ran an out route 12 yards downfield. It wasn't an easy pass — a long throw outside the numbers — but Gabbert hit Kerley as he came out of his break, and San Francisco picked up a first down.

On the third play of their next possession, the 49ers called the same play. Gabbert hit Kerley for another first down.

At the start of the fourth quarter, San Francisco, trailing by a touchdown, pressed its luck. The 49ers flipped the formation, but the routes were the same.

Initially, it looked as though Kerley would be open again.

Cornerback Marcus Cooper, however, anticipated the throw and undercut Kerley's route to intercept the pass. Gabbert's throw wasn't perfect — he could have thrown it farther in front of Kerley — but Cooper's anticipation put him in position to make a play on the ball.

Kelly won't hesitate to repeat concepts. Late in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals, the 49ers called the same play seconds apart from one another.

The first time San Francisco ran the play, it bunched three receivers on the left side of the field. The outside receiver (Quinton Patton) ran a deep vertical route, the middle receiver (Torrey Smith) ran a crossing route over the middle and the inside receiver (Kerley) broke toward the left sideline.

Kerley caught the pass at the line of scrimmage and proceeded to execute one of the sickest juke moves you'll see all season. Bucs cornerbacks: You've been warned.

Thirty seconds later, the 49ers called the same play but flipped the formation. Kerley caught his eighth pass of the game, but instead of breaking more ankles, he mercifully ran out of bounds.

Kerley gained a first down on each of the passes, but when the 49ers ran the concept the next week against the Bills, they scored their only touchdown of the game.

After the snap, two Bills defensive backs immediately converged on Kerley as he ran to the right sideline. One of them was supposed to cover Smith, who ran straight downfield. Kaepernick's pass was underthrown, but Smith was so wide open that it didn't matter. He broke off his route to make the catch and then went untouched as he cut across the field toward the end zone.

For the Bucs, blown coverages have been a regular occurrence. Through the first five weeks, they allowed six pass gains of 30 or more yards, the third-most in the league. They allowed five such gains all last season.

Because of Kelly's predictable play-calling and the 49ers' limitations at quarterback, the Bucs shouldn't be so easily fooled this Sunday.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at Follow @tometrics.

Bucs-49ers Scouting Report, Week 7: Chip Kelly is too predictable 10/21/16 [Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2016 7:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida softball returns to World Series; FSU baseball in ACC title game


    GAINESVILLE — Florida defeated Alabama 2-1 Saturday to win the deciding Game 3 of their softball Super Region, putting the Gators in the Women's College World Series for the eighth time in program history.

    ’NOLE POWER: FSU’s Dylan Busby, right, is congratulated by teammate Taylor Walls after Busby’s homer against Duke.
  2. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Christian to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a perfect 30-0 …

    Matheu Nelson of Calvary Christian celebrates scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning.
  3. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  4. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi had to battle without his best stuff again, which is becoming a more common occurrence, leading to long at-bats — including 13 pitches to Kennys Vargas in the fifth — and running up his pitch count to 118 without finishing the sixth.