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How Chip Kelly’s Offense Could Be Just Fine for LeSean McCoy


Predicting McCoy’s 2013 is complicated by two factors: how much of Kelly’s college offensive system will he attempt to implement in the NFL, and how does the up tempo, spread background of Kelly mesh with the low tempo west coast oriented Pat Shurmur.

Keep that in mind as we go through this exercise. I’ll present some data about the offenses Kelly & Shurmur have run in the past, and make some extrapolations for the Eagles this year. Things look really good for LeSean McCoy.

Chip Kelly Offense

During the time that Kelly was the Offensive Coordinator or Head Coach at Oregon, his teams put up some impressive offensive displays. Two key points I’d like to share: he ran a lot of plays. Here are his collegiate percentile finishes in plays/game…

Year Percentile
12 94
11 76
10 97
09 55
08 89
07 96
Ave 84.5

…And his offenses also relied heavily on running backs, running about 61% of the time. Even in losses his teams still had a 51/49 run/pass split. His offenses also involved multiple running backs. Check out these charts.

Percentage of Total Rushing Attempts, by RB


Percentage of Team Receptions, by RB


So here’s what we see for average RB usage under Chip Kelly.

Player Pct Team Rush Att Pct Team Receptions
RB1 41% 9%
RB2 17% 6%
RB3 11% 2%


Pat Shurmur Offense

Shurmur’s four seasons as Offensive Coordinator or Head Coach are remarkable for two things:

  • Starting young QBs
  • Having a workhorse RB

In St. Louis, Shurmur had Steven Jackson as his lead RB – this year’s Fantasy MVP, in case you hadn’t heard – and Sam Bradford in his 2010 rookie season. In Cleveland, he had Peyton Hillis’ top season, and Trent Richardson last year. He had Colt McCoy (second year) and Brandon Weeden (rookie) as his QBs.

The point is I’m not sure if Shurmur’s run/pass percentage (60% run, 40% pass) is a function of his offensive philosophy or his personnel. Shurmur’s offenses have also been very average in terms of the number of plays run.

Year Total Plays by Shurmur Offense League Average
2012 998 1027
2011 1024 1017
2010 1053 1010
2009 998 1006

OK, here’s some charts. Note that Shurmur’s teams usually have just one or two productive RBs.

Percentage of Team Rushing Attempts, by RB


Percentage of Team Receptions, by RB


We also see that Shurmur likes to involve his RBs in the pass game, with a full 23% of all pass completions, on average, going to the RB position. In his seasons as an OC/Head Coach, his RB usage was thus.

Player Pct Team Rush Att Pct Team Receptions
RB1 65% 13%
RB2 13% 3%
RB3 7% 4%


The Eagles Offense

Here’s a quick look at Andy Reid’s offense over the previous four seasons. The Eagles have been above average in total plays.

Year Total Plays by Eagles Offense League Average Percentile Finish
2012 1079 1028 85th
2011 1036 1018 80th
2010 1038 1010 64th
2009 975 1007 23rd
Average 1032 1016 63rd (median 72nd)

The Eagles have also made heavy use of running backs, and often have more than one productive back. They’re pass heavy though, with a 43/57 average run/pass ratio.

Percentage of Team Rushing Attempts, by RB


Percentage of Team Receptions, by RB


Here’s how the usage breaks down, on average.

Player Pct Team Rush Att Pct Team Receptions
LeSean McCoy 49% 16%
RB2 15% 11.5%
RB3 9% 2%


Projecting 2013 Usage

Until we know for sure, it’s hard to say exactly what the Eagles offense will look like so we’ll average Kelly & Shurmur’s numbers when making our estimates.

You can make a pretty good case that LeSean McCoy is the Eagles’ best player. So it makes sense that the Eagles offense will go through him, particularly if Mike Vick is not the starting QB. Should Foles be the starter, it would mean more rushing attempts for the RBs because Foles is not capable of running like Vick, and as a young QB, the team may rely even more on the run than the pass.

This table takes the average of Kelly & Shurmur’s usage for RB1, RB2, and RB3, then compares it to last year’s Eagles’ usage. I’ve penciled in LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown as the Eagles’ RB1 & RB2.

Player Est. 2013 Pct of Rush Att 2012 Eagles Pct Rush Att Change Est. 2013 Pct Team Rec 2012 Eagles Rec Pct Change
LeSean McCoy 53% 49% 4% 11% 16% -5%
Bryce Brown 15% 16% -1% 5% 3% 2%
RB3 9% 9% 0 3% 9% -6%

The run/pass ratio is the big area of potential change.Let’s now estimate the number of plays the Eagles may run this year, and a run/pass ratio. Kelly was consistently high volume in number of plays run, whereas Shurmur was almost exactly league average. The Eagles have been a high volume team three of the last 4 years. Based on the way Kelly has been running OTAs, it appears he’s still trying to be a high volume team. Let’s assume that’s the case again this year, and the Eagles finish in the 85th percentile of plays run (exactly where they were last year and Kelly’s career average). That gives the Eagles 1079 total plays, or 67 plays/game.

Coach Career Run/Pass Ratio
Kelly 61/39
Shurmur 60/40
09-12 Andy Reid 45/55

If we figure the Eagles will be a 60/40 run/pass team under Kelly & Shurmur, that would be a 15% increase in rush attempts! But no team ran the ball that much last year (Seattle ran on 55% of its plays). So let’s split the difference and say the Eagles will have a run/pass ratio of 52.5/47.5. This yields 35 rushing attempts per game vs. 32 pass attempts. We’ll average Vick’s and Foles’ completion percentages (59%) to estimate completions per game at 19.

So, based on 35 rushing attempts and 19 pass completions per game, we’ll estimate the following usage for Eagles RBs in 2013.

Player Est Pct of Rush Attempts Est Rush Attempts/Game Est Pct Team Rec Est Rec/Game
LeSean McCoy 53% 18.6 11% 2
Bryce Brown 15% 5.3 5% 1
RB3 9% 3.2 3% 0.5


Projecting 2013 Production

Now let’s see what that usage might be worth. TD/Game is calculated by taking the player’s career rushing TD rate (rushing TD/attempts) and multiplying by attempts/game. Then, the player’s receiving TD rate (receiving TD/receptions) is multiplied by receptions/game. Finally, the two are added together. The final column estimates per-game fantasy scoring in full PPR formats (6 points/TD).

Player Att/Game Career YPA Rush Yds/G Rec Career Y/R Rec Yds/G TD/G PPR P/G
McCoy 18.6 4.6 85.6 2.0 7.2 14.4 .74 16.4
Brown 5.3 4.9 26 1.0 4.3 4.3 .18 5.11

Just for fun, let’s compare these projections to the RotoViz RB Sim App.

McCoy Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 4.9 5.8 6.7
Median 10.4 12.1 13.2
High 14.9 17 19.1
Brown Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 4.6 6.4 7.4
Median 9.2 10.1 10.8
High 12.3 12.9 13.6

Despite the very different methodologies, the RB app predicts a good season for McCoy: 19.1 PPR Points/Game for the app vs. 16.4 for this study.

The app and my projections differ quite a bit for Bryce Brown though: 13.6 for the app vs 5.1 for this study.

The app is “situation agnostic” in that in doesn’t consider changes to coaching staffs, offensive philosophies, etc. And this study is just an extrapolation of historic tendencies. So the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Still, I’d feel pretty good if I were a LeSean McCoy owner. This “situation sensitive” projection falls in the upper range of the RB Apps projection, lending support to the idea that McCoy will be able to have a solid RB1 season.

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