In months leading up to the NFL season, while receiver Jason Avant flies under the radar, much attention will be paid to players like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and other well-known Philadelphia Eagles. With new head coach Chip Kelly in town, possibilities are endless on the offensive side of the ball in Philadelphia.
Avant may end up being the unsung hero of the Eagles.
Kelly coached the spread at the University of Oregon, implementing innovative schemes through the installation of a fast-paced, high-powered offense. The coach's wide-open looks allowed his Ducks to move the ball efficiently down the field while opponents grabbed at air.
Keep in mind that while the spread is notorious for its endless possibilities in the passing game, Kelly preaches a run-based attack centered around the exchange between the quarterback and running back.
Look for the Eagles to force opposing defensive coordinators to widen out defenders while Philadelphia pounds the zone-read option.
That said, Avant looks to have a lot of success in Kelly's new scheme.
It'd make sense to go on and on about the possibilities of what a player like Jackson or Jeremy Maclin could do under an innovator like Kelly. It also wouldn't be terribly far-fetched to predict success for Riley Cooper, who was a very good player with the Florida Gators when they ran the Tebow offense under Urban Meyer.
Kelly values run-blockers in his offense, and Avant is one of the best in the game.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Avant was the 10th-best run-blocker of all wide receivers last season and that rating came despite a limited number of snaps and erratic play-calling in the midst of a quarterback controversy.
Allowing Avant to shine in the run game will pay huge dividends for the Eagles.
Primarily a slot receiver, Avant will be able to seal off the edge for McCoy on read-option plays, allowing the rusher a clear running lane. Combine Avant's prowess with new acquisition James Casey and his ability to blow up linebackers; the Eagles have a very scary rushing attack before even considering that McCoy will have the ball in his hands.
Avant's unique skill set is something that Chip Kelly will utilize to facilitate a fundamentally sound running game. Don't be surprised if, with the Eagles moving to a three- or four-wide receiver base set, Avant ends up as a starter on this team.
He'll have a large impact on the team's success in 2013 and can be counted on for a big year in numbers that won't show up in the box score but are important nonetheless.
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