Chip Kelly installed an offense with the Philadelphia Eagles that was a mirror image of what he had run in college at Oregon, and the up-tempo look took the NFL by storm a season ago.
By now, though, teams have seen it. The Cardinals have seen it, having played in Philadelphia last year. After falling behind, 24-7, the Cards settled down defensively in losing, 24-21, and while there is respect for the Philly offense, there is no fear coming from the Cardinals.
"The biggest adjustment for us last year, especially in the second half, was knowing what we had to do," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "Being in position and lining up and making the right checks, because in the
first half everything was so fast, the formations and the shifts and then snapping the ball. Don't get caught up in the window dressing and the formations and the shifts. If you know your responsibility and understand what coach (Todd) Bowles is calling, I think we'll be fine."
Cornerback Patrick Peterson said while the Eagles use the no-huddle, they still snap the ball with about eight to 10 seconds left on the play clock – not that different than most teams. The Eagles also use "funky formations," Peterson said.
It can limit a team in making substitutions on the defensive line, Peterson added, but "the up-tempo, I don't think it will bother us."
"We know with them coming off the bye week we will see a couple different things, but we will have a couple different things as well," Peterson said. "After the first quarter-and- a-half, we'll figure out what they want to do."
Coach Bruce Arians noted the Cardinals actually run almost as many plays as the Eagles do, and that the Cards face some no-huddle almost every week.
"It's not a problem," Bowles said. "If they are playing well and playing fast, they'll play faster. If they're not and you stop them, it'll get slower. We just have to go out and play."
CAMPBELL THINKS HE CAN PLAY
Defensive end Calais Campbell was limited again Friday with his knee injury, but he expressed optimism he will be able to play Sunday.
"There is nothing I can't do," Campbell said. "Just have to deal with having a brace on the knee. I feel
explosive and I could play football the way I like to play football."
Arians said Campbell would be a decision left to game day, but added that Campbell is a benefit on the field just from his energy and the respect he gets from others.
Only tight end Troy Niklas (ankle) is expected to miss the game after he is listed as out. Arians said he expects Niklas to begin practicing again next week. Wide receiver John Brown (ankle), safety Rashad Johnson (knee) and running back Andre Ellington (foot) were all upgraded to full and are listed as probable.
For the Eagles, running back Darren Sproles (knee), linebacker Mychal Kendricks (calf), center Jason Kelce (hernia) are all officially questionable, although all three were listed as having taken part in full practice Friday. Wide receiver Brad Smith (groin) is out.
AS ACHO RISES, HIS BROTHER ARRIVES
Sam Acho has been waiting for this opportunity for a while, a chance to face off against brother Emmanuel in the NFL. It was close last season, but Emmanuel was inactive for the Eagles and Sam was injured and out for the season anyway.
But before the NFL, Sam and Emmanuel had always played together. On baseball, basketball and track teams since Sam was 8,
through high school football and then college football at the University of Texas.
"We're pumped up," Sam said.
"We'll talk a little bit less Xs and Os, but we'll still communicate," Emmanuel told philadelphiaeagles.com. "We're family above all else. A little bit of trash talk, a little bit of banter here and there, but it'll be fun."
Sam insisted his 40 time was faster, although he allowed Emmanuel was always better at Madden.
One area Sam might be gaining an edge is at linebacker. Emmanuel will lose playing time when the injured Mychal Kendricks comes back. Sam has been starting ever since John Abraham went out for the season, and Arians said Sam has been playing very well the last few games.
"I think my level of play has gotten better," Sam Acho said. "It came from a re-focus. Early in the season I was just focused on my stats and what I could do, 'I need to make this play or that play.' I was thinking about stuff that really didn't matter. After the bye week I starting thinking more, 'What is best for the team?' It really was a change in my mindset and it's hard to do as a player. You want to do what you can to make yourself the best, but sometimes it's not about you."
Sam Acho has 18 tackles this season, with two for loss, an interception and a sack.
GINN AND THE RETURN GAME
Ted Ginn had a giant 71-yard punt return for a touchdown in New York, a score that helped win a game for the Cardinals. But overall, Ginn's production has been "hit or miss," Arians said.
Thus far, helped by the long TD return, Ginn has averaged 13.5 yards on 10 punt returns, although he already has 13 fair catches. Kickoff returns, which have faded overall in the NFL, have not been good when Ginn has decided to bring them out, as he has averaged just 16.3 yards on six runbacks.
"Last week they obviously kicked to him the whole time (and) he was going to take a chance with one that kind of fluttered and he got a chance to return one," Arians said. "He's a threat every time he touches it. Kickoffs have gotten—I don't know if anybody's returning kickoffs anymore – but if and when he gets an opportunity, he can crack any one, so I'm still pleased, very pleased with him."