By Joe Leo
Published: February 6th, 2019
This NFL season has taught us a lot about where the game is going. Football has been shifting toward this moment since the lockout and new CBA, but the 2018-19 season was officially the start of a new age in the NFL. An age I’d like to dawn the “Chip Kelly Era.”
What does a great college coach have to do with the offensive explosion in the NFL? Everything. The League shifted to what it is currently when Philadelphia gave Chip Kelly a chance as both the general manager and head coach of the Eagles. Andy Reid was hired in Kansas City and instantly improved the Chiefs and broke ground as one of the NFL’s most prolific destinations for offense.
Guys like Adam Gase, Brian Shanahan, Matt Nagy, and Sean McVay all got their jobs in football because of Kelly. It was Kelly’s college style of coaching that brought that type of offensive thinking to the biggest stage in football and the rest of the league ran with it. The Rams and Saints played in the NFC Championship game and those were the top two offenses in the NFL.
The Rams, Saints, and Chiefs were the mainstays in the playoffs as the lit up scoreboards—showcasing what is to come on the gridiron in a league that used to be a defensive game.
With Patrick Mahomes winning the MVP with 50 touchdowns and 5,097 passing yards, the second-year quarterback from Texas Tech took the league by storm—changing the league forever. Professional Football has lagged behind for years in the creativity department since the turn of the decade and players like Mahomes, it helps tremendously.
Mahomes has the unique combination of a cannon arm and slippery mobility that makes accounting for him an almost impossible task. On any given play Mahomes can make a highlight and majority of the time Mahomes answered the call. The Kansas City gun-slinger cemented himself as one of the next quarterbacks to take the torch from the Brady-Brees-Big Ben-Rivers era.
As long as Mahomes is under center in Kansas City, the Chiefs will be in the mix to win a championship. However, don’t look at the stats from this MVP season and think they are an anomaly.
Drew Brees threw 32 touchdowns, Philip Rivers threw for 4,302 yards, and Ben Roethlisberger lead the league in passing with 5,129 yards. Passing statistics went through the roof this year and with the way the league is shifting these stats will become more commonplace. What is going on in football is very similar to the statistical shift Major League Baseball is seeing. All of this can be traced back to Chip Kelly and his influence.
Philadelphia won a Super Bowl last year with the RPO (Run-Pass Option) and highly intensive play action plays. For most of the season the Chiefs used the same formula to get a bye and have Patrick Mahomes eviscerate professional football.
Quarterbacks are unequivocally the difference makers in football and the sport as a whole is taking advantage of the entertainment value in that. The Monday Night Football game between Mahomes’ Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams was the most watched football of the year until the playoffs. That game was as advertised and offensive fireworks scorched the night sky in tinkle town. The Chiefs lost the game, but Mahomes showed in Prime-Time that the only way to beat #15 in red and white is to keep him on the sidelines drinking Gatorade.
Patrick Mahomes is a generational talent but he would not have been able to have the type of season that he had in 2018 if it wasn’t for the genius offensive mind of Chip Kelly taking the college game and modernizing it for today’s NFL.