One of the worst parts about not sitting around waiting to blog all day is that I miss breaking news. Back in the glory days I would have been all over this hours ago, but in these sorry times people are left to leave comments on breaking news stories under random posts. At least I can say that I had plenty of company who didn’t see this move coming. Chip Kelly, the visor wearing Oregon genius, had spurned the NFL. That is, until something changed. The amount of the Eagles offer? The status of Oregon’s program with the NCAA? Chip’s read option heart? I’m not sure, but back Kelly came out of a cloud of dusty mediocrity to take the Eagles up on their offer and attempt to lead the franchise out of the depths of their most recent nadir. Can Chip pull this off? I have no idea.
Kelly reminds me of Mark Calcavecchia for some reason. I’m sure there are about two people on the planet who will pick that up, but I think it’s the visor, the plentiful face and the unwavering belief in their method. But, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I wonder how this is actually going to go? How about some pros and cons?
1. Kelly is not Andy Reid. And he’s far enough away from Reid’s coaching tree, from his personality that at the very least Kelly creates excitement and curiosity about the team. Even if you think Kelly is going to be a monumental failure, I imagine when it blows up, you still want to see the fireball.
2. There is a chance that the way NFL teams run their offenses, the way the QB position is evaluated is changing. Kelly is an innovative thinker who was consulted by Bill Belichick. The Eagles will no longer be the team who is three years late to trying out that “wildcat” thing.
3. Excitement. Chip Kelly pushes the tempo. If you like offense, if you hate methodical drives–this is your guy. There will be no more “we’ll get ’em in the 5th quarter” jokes as you watch the play clock dwindle toward zero on every play.
4. The guy wins a lot of football games. He only has four years of head coaching experience, but in that span he’s gone 46-7. He’s used to winning and he’s used to winning right away. I expect an appropriate level of urgency.
5. He’s an offensive coach. You saw how the playoffs went last weekend. It’s an offensive league. The temptation after Andy Reid may have been to go to the defensive side of the ball, but considering the state of the Eagles’ defense, it’s probably best to bring in a guy who can maximize the speed and talent that is here on offense. With DeSean Jackson, McCoy, Maclin, Celek, etc you’d like to think that a new scheme could turn things around. On defense, it looks to be more of a personnel problem.
1. Kelly has no NFL experience.
2. You can’t recruit in the NFL. Some of the best college coaches are so good because they always get the best guys that fit their system. It’s a lot easier to do that through recruiting, especially to a program like Oregon, than it is through NFL free agency and the draft.
3. Kelly doesn’t have any experience with a major NFL media market. Seven years ago the guy was coaching New Hampshire’s offense. That’s not a knock, it’s just a note on the scale of media attention. Oregon is a huge program, a very big deal in a state with no NFL team, but it’s still a lifetime away from the Philadelphia Eagles.
4. The Eagles gave up 444 points last year. That’s almost 30 a game. So, Chip’s either going to have to average 35, or hire one hell of a defensive coordinator.
5. He doesn’t have the greatest record in the biggest games. Kelly was the most fashionable college name, but he’s not the most successful college coach. That’d be Nick Saban by a mile. Urban Meyer has a better record too. Kelly led Oregon to a great record, but no national titles. In games against the SEC, in the BCS championship game, on a few occasions against good Stanford and USC teams, Kelly’s team has often been on the short end of the stick. And, that offense that is known to average 50, puts up 8 (2009, Boise), 17 (2010 Rose Bowl, OSU), 19 (2011 BCS Title Game, Auburn), 14 (2012, Stanford). So, we know Kelly can blow out Washington St. and Colorado, but is that all he does?
Bottom Line: Kelly’s success in Philadelphia is likely going to be tied to whether or not he can find an effective QB to run his system. RG3 could run it, or Colin Kaepernick, or Russell Wilson, but those guys aren’t on Philly’s roster. I think we’re probably about 5-6 years late on Michael Vick being the right piece. So, at some point in the next year or two, Kelly is going to land on his “guy.” Much like Andy tabbed Donovan and that choice will be the biggest Kelly makes as the Eagles’ coach and it’s a bigger choice than even the Eagles naming him coach. Essentially what this hire is saying is, we want this guy to be the one who identifies and develops our next franchise QB. I suppose they could have made a worse choice.