The Eagles brought in league officials to referee a pair of recent practices, and though statements from high-ranking officials suggested that the Eagles may not be able to run plays as quickly as they would like, the officials who attended practice had no issues keeping up.
“What I’ve seen over the last two days, we didn’t have any problem,” NFL official Scott Green said. “It didn’t seem out of the ordinary, as far as the pace.”
The only caveat that Green added was that whenever the Eagles make offensive substitutions, they must give the defense an opportunity to do the same. When the Eagles keep the same personnel, however, they may snap the ball as soon as it is spotted by the officials.
Despite officials’ earlier cranky comments about Kelly’s pace, it now appears as though substitutions will be the primary obstacles to the Eagles going as fast as possible. Keeping the same personnel package on the field works to the Eagles’ advantage, then. That could be a primary reason for acquiring versatile tight ends James Casey and Zach Ertz, who give Kelly flexibility in terms of what formations he wants to run and how many players he wants to split out wide.
Overall, Eagles fans should expect a year of innovation that applies to everything from game tempo and play design down to the players’ diets. While not all of Chip Kelly’s ideas will ultimately stick, the Eagles hired him largely because he approaches the game in a fresh and exciting way. It’s a very good sign, then, that the officials won’t be an obstacle to Kelly and his unorthodox methods.