For Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, Monday will be the start of a new chapter in his life. Not only will he be entering FedExField for the first time in his career, it will mark the culmination of years of hard work to get to the NFL. Taking nothing away from his nearly pristine college resume, most coaches want to reach the pinnacle of the football world.
While the day will be chock full of many firsts, if he and Ryan Kerrigan cross paths either during pregame warmups, postgame handshakes or even a play near the Eagles sideline during the game, it won’t be the first time the two have partook in the same game .
Long before Kerrigan shook Roger Goodell’s hand after the announcement that he was selected by the Redskins in the 2011 NFL Draft and made getting a haircut a monthly priority, he was a unanimous All-American defensive end at Purdue University. It was there where he got an inside look at Kelly’s unorthodox offense—twice.
Purdue and Oregon aren’t rivals by any stretch of the imagination as one plays in the Big 10 (the conference with 12 teams) and the other in the Pac-12, but they did play two memorable games in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009. The first game in 2008, Kerrigan’s Boilermakers blew a third quarter 17 point lead and in 2009 at Autzen Stadium where the Ducks rarely taste defeat, Oregon won by two thanks to a failed two-point conversion after a late touchdown.
So what was the reasoning behind the two blown leads? Was it fatigue from Kelly’s fast paced offense?
“We blew fourth quarter leads both times. We lost by two at Oregon my junior year on a failed two-point conversion and then gave up a 13 point lead my sophomore year.
“In college I don’t think it had to necessarily do with fatigue. We’re all in good shape, but where they have success with their offense is they’ve got good personnel and they don’t allow guys to get lined up so guys on film you’ll see, are kind of second guessing themselves sometimes.”
Kerrigan admitted last week that playing against unusual offensive formations can play tricks on a defenders mind, but if the Redskins struggle against the Eagles offense on Monday it won’t be due to a lack of preparation.
“We’re playing fast and we’re not just allowing them to completely dictate the tempo,” Kerrigan said of how practice for Eagles week has gone so far. “But we’re still attacking and we’re still aggressive.”
While Kerrigan has been a terror to every NFL team during the first 32 games of his career, he’s especially been a thorn in Philly’s side. In four career games against the division foe he’s recorded 15 tackles, three sacks and countless sleepless nights for Eagles brass.
His most notably play against them came on a 3rd and 15 deep inside Redskins territory.
Had Kerrigan not made the strip who knows how the rest of the game would have turned out and the season for that matter. While it’s difficult to pinpoint one exact play in a game that saw over 125 as the play that won the Redskins the game, there’s no denying the fact that it stopped an Eagles drive that appeared destined for the end zone.
Ryan Kerrigan does not like losing. Especially to the same guy three times in a row.
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