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No rule of thumb for Chip Kelly’s decision to kick 60-yard FG at end of first half

Oct 22, 2013, 7:18 PM EDT


Fans were less than enthused with Chip Kelly’s decision to attempt a 60-yard field goal during the Eagles 17-3 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. “Charlie College,” they called him on the blogosphere and talk radio airwaves, insinuating that the brains behind a college football revolution struggles to grasp basic NFL strategy.

Turns out, there’s not much of a rule of thumb here. Only four times in the last five years (2,560 games) had a coach faced what Kelly did on Sunday: fourth-and-1 between an opponent’s 40 and 45 yard line with under one minute to go in the first half.  (And those parameters are a bit generous. For Kelly, only 14 seconds remained. If we didn’t expand our conditions beyond 15 seconds, our sample size would be only two.)

Granted, none of the four coaches in that scenario over the span trotted out the field goal unit – twice they punted, twice they went for it (both times, unsuccessfully). But it would seem that proclaiming “that’s not what you do THERE!” is a bit baseless, given that “there” is a place mostly unseen.

I get it. Best-case scenario: Henery does what Kelly and Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said he’d been doing throughout pregame and plants a seed through the uprights to even the score, 3-3. Worst-case scenario: Henery’s kick is blocked/short and is returned for a touchdown or, even worse, simply misses and the Cowboys muster a touchdown scoring drive and game-changing momentum.

(Going for it doesn’t make much sense. Run, and you move only marginally closer and face basically the same field goal attempt. 60. 57. Tomato, tomato. Throw, and you have to trust Foles to not throw a pick/get strip sacked on a day where Foles was, um, less than trustworthy.)

So, people rationalized, Kelly should have punted, lived to fight another day. Even if that is the supposed opposite of Chip Kelly Football – if there is such a thing anymore.

That’s kind of the point here: isn’t that Kelly’s schtick? Aggressiveness? Trusting his guys? Calculated risks? And outside of the lack of winning/franchise quarterbacking, hasn’t the biggest complaint of the Chip Kelly Era been any real semblence to, you know, Chip Kelly? Or any discernible identity?

The underlying psychology is simple. The team looked bad in the first half. Against the Cowboys. Fans were upset. Henery’s a punching bag. The call was questionable. It wasn’t mitigated with a make — let alone a win.

But when you bash a call like that and play the “Charlie College” card, remember what you’re really asking for: Chip Kelly to not be Chip Kelly, even in the slightest sense of his supposed nature.

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  1. Bob - Oct 22, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Was at the game. I’m a Chip defender and overlook gaffes knowing he has some talent issues on his roster and is a 1st yr NFL coach.

    If I remember correctly the Eagles had a timeout left, so running on 4th and 1 was a legit option. Convert and you have a play to get closer to realistic FG range. Despite the tough day overall offensively, 4th and 1 is a high percentage play. More much so then a 60 yd FG attempt.

    Think Kelly out thought himself there.

    • willh888 - Oct 23, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      Forget running on 4th and 1, how about 3rd and 1 with one timeout left. I believe they went deep down the sideline and the throw wasn’t even close. You only run that play if you’re planning on going for it on 4th down.

      Also from what it looked on camera, henery still had plenty of distance. Maybe Chip had a lot of confidence in that leg, i dont know. It goes unnoticed if the birds win

  2. sfsu - Oct 22, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    Conversion rates on 50-52 yard attempts are right around 50%, if not higher. I’d be surprised if a 60 yard attempt had more than a 20% success rate. 14 seconds is more than enough time to run 2 plays, but also not enough time for the other team to move the ball if you fail to convert. Going for it on 4th and 1 succeeds 70% of the time, even when you don’t have Lesean McCoy. Which means 0.7*0.5, gives you a ~35% chance at a successful FG, which is undoubtedly higher than an attempt from 60 yards out. You go for it, and if you miss, you’re still 8 yards ahead of where you are if you miss the 60 yarder.

    • sfsu - Oct 22, 2013 at 8:41 PM

      Shit, forgot what site I was on. DOM BROWNS AN ASSHOLE!!!

  3. BenE. - Oct 22, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    Good comments above.

    People can debate all week what the best move was. I’m in the camp that thinks they should have tried to convert. Conversion rate jumps tremendously from a 60 to a 50+ yard field goal. But I watched the game until Barkley threw his first INT, so I’m also in the camp that thinks a missed field goal is the least of the Eagles’ concerns.

  4. Hiccup - Oct 23, 2013 at 6:13 AM

    Face it folks, they threw the game for a better draft pick. Foles is not that bad, he just took one for the future.

  5. psudrozz - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    meh. we’re 3-4.

    let’s focus on the giants.


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