Super Bowl 47 is set…the 49ers and the Ravens… Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh…no such fairy tale ending for the Eagles, alas…
But the wheel keeps turning.
Bill McGovern of Boston College becomes the Eagles' next linebackers coach…
In a rather shocking move, former Boston College defensive coordinator and BC's current linebacker coach Bill McGovern has reportedly accepted a position on Chip Kelly's staff with the Philadelphia Eagles. Per the report, McGovern will be joining former BC tight end Bob Bicknell on the Eagles' staff.
His role hasn't been clarified yet, but best guess would be that McGovern would be coaching the linebackers for Philadelphia.
McGovern, whose defenses have struggled the past two years, was basically demoted by BC head coach Steve Addazio late in December. While his schemes left much to be desired, his work with linebackers had superb results — producing such standouts as Luke Kuechly, Mark Herzlich, Ray Henderson and Robert Francois. This is a great career move for McGovern, so congratulations to him.
Then there's Pat Shurmur, the former long-time assistant to Andy Reid's Eagles and recent head coach of the Cleveland Browns—he's rumored to be confirmed as Chip Kelly's new offensive coordinator— even though we know Chip will be calling all of his own plays.
No biggie… Maybe Pat will be there to simply communicate with quarterbacks on the sideline…
But I digress.
Our good friend Anthony Brown from RedskinsHogHeaven.com sent us a transcript from a recent interview with Jim Heacock, formerly of Ohio State, who was one of the last defensive coordinators in the NCAA to have actually stopped Chip Kelly's offensive juggernaut.
Heacock, a former defensive coordinator at Ohio State, is well aware of Oregon’s offense, which soon could be Philadelphia’s now that Kelly is the Eagles’ coach. In the 2010 Rose Bowl, his defense spent a month preparing for it and then held the Ducks to 260 yards and 17 points in a win. But he also provided insight into how they prepared to face an offense that wanted to go twice as fast as everyone else. Plus, Heacock offered a look into how college defenses eventually adjusted to the zone read game. The Redskins not only will see other defenses do this to them, but now they must prepare to do it to others.
Q: What do you remember about defending Chip Kelly’s offense?
A: It’s been a couple years, but a lot of people are running it. When an offense has success, everyone has a form of it, and probably the biggest situation and what the NFL is getting to is the hurry-up. That’s the first thing with his offense is the speed they run their offense at gives you a lot of problems. In preparation, that’s the biggest thing we had to do is figure out how we get the defense called and how you get your substitutions because when they run that many plays your defensive line gets tired and you try to rotate guys in and keep them as fresh as you can. But the problem is they don’t give you any time to do that. That’s the first thing we really tried to address and to have a plan that our guys didn’t have to run all over the field and try to get lined up and everything. Once we felt we had at least a little handle on that, then it comes down to the quarterback you’re facing. We spent a lot of time looking at the quarterback, and the problem probably rises when he can both throw the ball and run the ball. That creates a good problem for the defense. And then if you have a good tailback involved, it creates a lot of issues. I don’t know if we had answers, but we tried to keep our guys fresh and keep it as simple as we could. We tried to use some disguises, move our people around a little bit and disguise the look for the quarterback. In our situation, we felt the quarterback could beat us, so we felt we had to take him out of the game, so in the majority of our defenses we were encouraging him to hand the ball off and taking our chances to get the dive back down but keep the ball out of the quarterback’s hands. It’s a little like option football. Your guys have to be really disciplined. There will be a dive back, and whoever has him has to take him. If the quarterback comes out, you have to have someone assigned to him. In some cases, Oregon had a couple backs, and the quarterback was pretty good. It creates a lot of issues.
Q: How unique is what he ran?
A: It was when we were playing Rich Rodriguez when he was coaching at Michigan and they ran the spread offense and had a running quarterback. I hate to say [Oregon’s offense] wasn’t unique. But what they did out of that offense was unique because you do combine the speed and the zone read look and you still have a quarterback that can run the ball or follow that zone read. They give you a lot of problems. I think the biggest problem is when you have a tailback that’s a real threat and then you have a quarterback that’s a real threat to run and if he can throw … and now if you have a couple receivers. I guess it’s the magnitude of it. It’s all the things they have the capability of doing, and then you add the fact that they’re going 100 miles an hour and you really don’t have a whole lot of time to do a whole lot of thinking. You’d better get lined up and play a lot of football. I guess it’s the number of things they can do out of it and the speed at which it comes at you and making sure you’re getting lined up and the ability of the players executing it, especially the quarterback. If he can run and throw, you have issues. If he’s one-dimensional, you can gang up on one or the other and hopefully slow him down a little bit. When we played them, our guys played very disciplined and we were able to make some plays and get some pressure on the quarterback. Not a lot. … It’s hard to stop that offense.
Q: As far as getting players in and out fast, how did you accomplish that through preparation?
A: First of all, we had bowl practice, so you had more time. And then coach [Jim] Tressel helped us. He would take the offense, and we’d put two offenses on [the field]. One offense would break the huddle and run a play, and as soon as we would get done the second offense would come up so we could get that rapid fire look in practice. In walkthroughs we would turn around and face away from the coach, then they’d turn around and we’d give them a signal, and they’d have to get lined up. Really, it’s just preparing for having no time. But now what everyone is doing, they’re going fast, but they’re not snapping it, and they’re getting a look at what you’re doing on defense. Now that’s the next phase. They get you going fast, and you get lined up, and if you’re blitzing, you give it away, and then they’re taking their time and not snapping the ball until five seconds are left on the clock, so what appears to be a hurry-up ends up slowing down, and it gives them the opportunity to see what defense you’re in because it’s hard to disguise in that look. A lot of the hurry-up in defending it is just poise and keeping it under control.
Q: The Redskins obviously run the zone read and now others are, too, so I’m sure a lot of defensive coordinators will spend this offseason talking to some college coaches about defending it. How were defenses able to grow and combat this offense?
A: We felt we had to move around a little bit. We had to disguise. We couldn’t allow them to know what we were doing. We had to change gaps. We had to drop players back into coverage. We had to mix it up. We felt like we couldn’t go in and run just one defense. You have to be multiple, but the speed prevents you from being too multiple. We tried to change it up like crazy and do different looks and give the quarterback some read problems. It is the zone read, and if he’s reading it, give him some problems. Try to give him different looks. I compare it to option football, the veer and the wishbone. You better be disciplined and have the ability to change it up, and then you have to tackle in space.
Q: How would you give him a different read?
A: Similar to the option, you can go attack the quarterback and you can force the read, or you can attack the dive and force the quarterback to pull it, but make it happen quicker and try to change up the speed of it. You can play off on the quarterback or go hit the quarterback and force the dive, but that’s taking away the outside game immediately. And then we tried to move the front so we had some loopers and change up what the look will be as far as who has the quarterback. We’d pull the end inside, and he takes the dive. A lot of subtle changes and a lot goes back to option football.
Interesting insight into Chip Kelly's mindset and how to beat him from a divisional foe's perspective, if you ask me…Thanks, Anthony…You can never have too much information about your opponents…or yourself.