Auburn Football: How Chip Kelly's NFL Success Will Impact Gus Malzahn's Future
The hurry-up, no-huddle style of offense that has torn through each level of competitive football has finally landed in the NFL.
After some flirtations with NFL teams in recent years, former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly accepted the head coaching position of the Philadelphia Eagles on January 16. He also interviewed with the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns.
Kelly and Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn are two of the trailblazers who brought the up-tempo offensive style to college football. They are also two of the most successful offensive masterminds in the game. Because of that, the success or lack thereof that Kelly has in the NFL over the next year or two will directly impact Auburn and Malzahn.
If Kelly experiences success at the pro level anything close to that which he experienced at Oregon (46-7 record in four years), NFL suitors will come knocking on Malzahn's door.
Why wouldn't they? If they can't beat the Eagles, these teams should then copy Philadelphia by hiring someone who runs a fast-paced offense.
Only time will tell if Kelly's prolific offense will be successful in the NFL. Former Eagles quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski doesn't think it will, via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com:
I just don't see NFL passing concepts in this offense...It's a movement offense by the quarterback, off the run-action, off the read-action. A lot of short, quick passes, dart routes, bubble screens. Very few plays down the field with NFL passing concepts.
To be fair, Kelly never had a QB at Oregon who can throw the ball down the field like he has with the Eagles in Michael Vick.
Malzahn and Kelly's offenses are very similar in terms of tempo, which is the key to their offenses' success. Confusion within the defense leads to slow feet.
The two coaches are also similar in how they expect their attacks to be executed. The offense of both Malzahn and Kelly uses a lot of inside- and outside-zone-blocking plays along with counter and power running plays. Both will mix in "gimmicky plays" as well.
Here is a Statue of Liberty play that Auburn ran in Malzahn's last game as offensive coordinator against Virginia in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl:
And not to be outdone, here is Kelly's fake Statue of Liberty play in 2007:
Malzahn has already made an impact on NFL offenses. He gets credit for the successful Wildcat formation that was formed when Malzahn was at Arkansas in 2006. The formation allowed for the most dynamic athletes to be on the field at the same time.
According to The New York Times, former Miami Dolphins QB coach David Lee—who coached with Malzahn at Arkansas in 2006—took the Wildcat formation that Malzahn used with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones and incorporated it into the Dolphins offense with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in 2008. Some NFL teams continue to use variations of the offense.
That just goes to show that in the NFL, if something works, teams will copy it.
If Kelly's Philadelphia offense puts up Oregon-like numbers in 2013 and Malzahn turns around the Auburn offense for the second time since 2009, look for Malzahn's name to be tied to coaching vacancies in the National Football League next offseason.
For Auburn fans, now may be a good time to join the Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants fan clubs.
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