IRVING, Texas – Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin should know each other’s tendencies well, even if they have different viewpoints on how those tendencies have translated to the NFL.
Kiffin and Kelly faced off three times while Kiffin coached the defense at USC and Kelly was the head coach at Oregon. The Ducks won two out of three of those matchups, with Oregon’s highly touted offense putting up 62 points and 730 total yards of offense in 2012 against the Trojans.
“Chip Kelly’s the best,” Kiffin said. “He really is. Some coaches talk a lot but they don’t put it on tape. Coach Kelly puts it on tape. They know what they’re doing, I don’t care if it’s high school, college or pro.”
After starting 1-3, the Eagles are now tied for first in the division with the Cowboys and boast the No. 1 rushing offense, No. 3 total offense and No. 4 scoring offense in the league.
Kiffin doesn’t see much of a difference in how Kelly’s running his fast-paced offense now compared to how he ran it at Oregon. He said he’s still seen Kelly run the spread option and sees a lot of similarities in the passing game and the way he attacks. Obviously, the running attack is more explosive with Michael Vick than Nick Foles, but Kiffin still sees a similar system.
“He didn’t change a whole lot,” Kiffin said. “He said it the other day in the paper, he’s going to run his offense. He doesn’t care what you’re doing on defense, and that’s what he does. That’s why he’s good.”
While Kiffin’s seen a lot of the same, Kelly offers a different viewpoint on what he’s viewed of Kiffin’s defense from college to the NFL.
"I've got the utmost respect for Monte, in terms of him as a football coach,” Kelly said. “It's been just unbelievable just to compete against him. But when you turn the tape on of what he's doing in Dallas, it's different than what he was doing at S.C., and so I don't draw much parallel from the opportunity when we were both at the college level to compete against each other.”
Both coaches noted how the personnel changes are significant now, but Kelly was more emphatic about the differences between the two levels. The Eagles’ head coach said there hasn’t been much studying of USC tape.
If there’s no parallel between the two, that’s probably a good thing for the Cowboys. In the 62-51 loss for the Trojans and Kiffin last year, Oregon passed for four touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing for 426 yards. The Trojans did get the best of the Ducks the year prior, however, holding Oregon to 35 points in a win.
“Hopefully, we come out and play better, that’s for sure,” Kiffin said. “The 10-2 year that we had at USC, we were a big underdog up there that year, and they had a home streak going, and we did play (well). We beat him up there, we got him. But he got us two out of three.”
Kiffin has a chance to even that series of the last three years with Kelly this weekend by starting off on the right foot against the former Oregon head coach at the pro level, where Kiffin has much more experience. The defensive coordinator’s preparing his defense for just how quickly the ball will move.
“It’s fast,” said rookie safety