Oregon Football Strategy Session: Chip Kelly Needs to Coach from the Press Box

Fletcher JohnsonCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2009

BOISE, ID - SEPTEMBER 3:  Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly looks out onto the field during the third quarter of the game against the Boise State Broncos on September 3, 2009 in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won the game 19-8. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

After one of Oregon's worst performances of the past 15 years, Ducks fans are wondering what is going on and what needs to change. Some want major changes, while others want little tweaks to the team.

One thing that puzzled those diehard Duck fans and national media alike was the inability of the offense to move the ball. Obviously, the offensive line had serious problems, but the whole offensive unit looked in disarray.

Leading up to the season, Duck fans were told that new head coach Chip Kelly would be calling the plays and new offensive assistant Mark Helfrich would be Kelly’s “eyes in the sky.” 

Was Kelly really calling the plays though? Every time the television flashed to him, he had no play sheet. Now Kelly may have all the plays memorized, but it seems unlikely.

That means Helfrich was calling the plays, which explains the difference from the past two years. 

Many might excuse this as Helfrich’s first game calling the plays, but looking at Helfrich’s past, he has no great record as an offensive coordinator. Helfrich was the offensive coordinator at Arizona State and Colorado in the past, but neither of those programs competed at as high of a level as the Ducks have been while Helfrich has been there.

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Kelly was always great at diagnosing what a defense was trying to do and how to keep that defense off-balance. We saw none of that on Thursday night. If Kelly wasn’t calling the plays, he needs to be.

Kelly as head coach creates a unique situation. His offensive mind needs to see what a defense is doing, and a field level view does not allow for that.

That’s why he should coach from the press box.

Kelly can perform almost all the duties of a head coach from the press box. With all the experience on the coaching staff, the Ducks would be fine without him on the sideline. With the exception of calling timeouts or making split-second decisions, Kelly would be fine running the show from the box.

Also, some forget that Kelly was also a defensive coordinator as a young coach. Having him see what defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti sees with more say could help make the changes in the defense that seem to be necessary. 

One thing is for sure: The Ducks better figure out things quick. Purdue comes to town as supposedly one of the worst opponents the Ducks will face. But the Boilermakers did put up 52 points last week against a decent Toledo team. Another offensive output like Thursday night, and the Ducks will quickly be 0-2 and on damage control.