Eagles week could help Patriots prep for Week 1

Eagles week could help Patriots prep for Week 1
August 15, 2014, 5:45 pm
Share This Post

FOXBORO -- When Friday's preseason game with the Eagles is finished, ending Philadelphia's four-day Gillette Stadium visit, the Patriots may not have seen the last of Chip Kelly's offense.

In fact, there's a chance they see something similar in three weeks.

Barring a Super Bowl matchup in February, the Patriots and Eagles will not meet this season. But Bill Belichick and his team could be up against an offense with some familiar concepts when they travel to Miami for Week 1.

Former Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor is now the offensive coordinator for the Dolphins, and he has said he plans for his offense to use some of the elements that helped earn Philadelphia a 10-6 record and an NFC East division title last season under Kelly.

“The number one thing we want to do is play with great tempo,” Lazor recently told his team's website.

Of course, the Dolphins and Eagles have very different personnel -- Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill is athletic and possesses a big arm, but he hasn't shown the capability to put together a year like Foles had in 2013. And it's very likely that anything the Patriots have seen in this week of camp was a watered-down version of Kelly's fast-paced, big-play offense.

But playing at a neck-break tempo has been a focus of both the Patriots and Eagles this week, and though the Patriots have consistently worked their two-minute offense in practice sessions by themselves, seeing the Eagles and their scheme run the hurry-up may have given Belichick's defense a bit of a head start on their preparations for the season-opener.

"You just have to be very conditioned," Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones said. "You have to pay attention to detail. You can't really get caught slipping because sometimes when guys get tired you kind of blow an assignment. If you're very conditioned you should be fine."

"It depends on what you’re trying to do, but certainly it limits some of the things a defense can do," Belichick said of uptempo offenses. "But it limits some of the things an offense can do, too. It’s a trade-off. Maybe they’re doing less, you’re doing less. Can you execute at your pace better than they can execute at that pace? That’s really what it comes down to. If you can get your team to the point where you can, then it’s an advantage. If you can’t, then I’m not sure what the advantage is."

If there's any advantage at all to the Patriots going against Lazor's former team this week in camp, it may be small. Lazor has said that his offense in Miami will be more of a hybrid of that which he's learned under coaches like Kelly, Joe Gibbs and Mike Holmgren rather than a carbon-copy of what was in the Eagles playbook last year.

But in a league where coaching staffs spend hours slogging through film for any kind of edge, even a small amount of extra preparation carries value.

"We have to prepare for all the things that we’re going to see," Belichick said earlier this week. "Whatever we can see in the preseason or whatever, maybe we can build a base on that going forward."