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Eagles vs. Buccaneers: Five questions with Bleeding Green Nation

We talked to Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation ahead of Sunday's game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


Chip Kelly's first few games have been a bit up and down. How do the fans feel about their new head coach?

A large portion of the fan base was really excited when the Eagles hired Chip Kelly. It was apparent from the start that this was never a quick fix for the Eagles, though. Coming off a 4-12 season and without a franchise QB, it was clear this thing was going to take time. They were a declining team that needed a rebuild. The Eagles had some talent in place but not enough to be instant contenders. Fast forward to now and the Eagles are 2-3. The NFL isn't the NBA, so it's not like the Eagles are going to tank. They're trying to mix efforts to rebuild and be competitive at the same time.

Fans have largely met Chip Kelly with patience (well, about as patient as fans can be) because they know he needs time to acquire his players and install his system. The Eagles offense has really exceeded through their first games; Philadelphia is on a historical pace in terms of yards. Meanwhile, the defense has foreseeably struggled and fans are not high on Chip Kelly's hire of defensive coordinator Bill Davis. Some may have their reservations about Chip, but I think others see a potentially bright future with him at the helm.

Can you tell us a little bit about the design of Chip Kelly's offense and how he's adapted it to the NFL?

The design of Chip Kelly's NFL offense is just like it was in college: a very successful offense. Through their first five games of the season, the Eagles are the first team in NFL history to accumulate at least 1,200 passing and 875 rushing yards. The Eagles offense has accounted for 2,274 total net yards in 2013, which is the most ever by an Eagles team through five games and the eighth-highest total in NFL history. So I would say the offense has adapted just fine.

In terms of style, the Eagles utilize the read option with Michael Vick at QB optioning with LeSean McCoy at running back at times. Chip likes to run the ball but he's not afraid to take chances down the field. Philadelphia has lined up in 11 personnel with the same players (3 WR: DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant / 1 RB: LeSean McCoy / 1 TE: Brent Celek) on 45% of their offensive plays. No other team uses the same lineup as frequently as the Eagles have.

If you were going to attack the Eagles defense, where would you start?

Well, the Eagles defense isn't very good, so you almost can't go wrong. What they're least-worst at doing though is containing the run. The best plan of attack is through the air. The Eagles secondary isn't very strong, and the PHI pass rush has been pedestrian. Tampa Bay should look to throw the ball.

With Michael Vick probably out and Nick Foles in, how will the Eagles offense change?

As of me writing this, Michael Vick hasn't officially been ruled out yet, but yes, it seems unlikely he will play against the Bucs. A number of beat reporters have asked this very question regarding any changes in the Eagles offense is Vick is out and Foles is in. Don't take my word for it, from Chip Kelly himself:

"No, we run the same. We do the same things offensively with Nick that we did with Mike, so we didn't have to deviate much from anything in terms of what we're doing, and I think that's the beauty of those guys. Having an understanding. We've had enough time with both of those guys. We'll all been here since April so we have an understanding. There are some things that Nick does different than Mike does. But it's not like we have to say, hey, we're going to be an I‑formation team on Sunday if Nick's in the game.

Both Foles and offensive coordinator have said the same things. It remains to be seen if they are telling truth. It wouldn't be surprising to see some changes, but we have to wait.

Are there any under-the-radar players for the Eagles whom Buccaneers fans should know?

As I mentioned before, the Eagles aren't as bad at defending the run. Part of that is because DE Cedric Thornton is a good run defender. He's second in the league with tackles at the 3-4 DE position with 17 (JJ Watt is first with 23). Thornton signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent after the 2011 draft. I imagine most Bucs fans aren't familiar with him.

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