The Eagles on Wednesday announced the shocking hire of Chip Kelly to be the next head coach in Philadelphia.
My first reaction is one of abject disappointment. In my opinion, intelligent Eagles fans all breathed a sigh of relief a couple weeks ago when Kelly ended his flirtation with the Eagles to return to Oregon.
At that point, the path was seemingly paved for Gus Bradley to be the next Eagles Head Coach. He seemed to be the best choice: tough, no-nonsense and NFL battle-tested, Bradley would have brought passion and NFL experience to the Eagles.
Chip Kelly will either revolutionize the NFL or fall flat on his face. The likelihood of him being successful is about 10 percent—leaving a 90 percent chance he’ll be a disaster.
At Oregon, his record was 46-7 against the PAC 10, running his gimmick offense. In the college arena, his offense was impressive to watch. It was relentless, attacking every chance it had. Its sheer volume of plays was astounding and beat opposing defenses to exhaustion and confusion. PAC 10 defenses.
When Oregon faced Stanford this season, its vaunted offense managed 14 points. The Ducks were 4-19 on third and fourth downs. When the frenetic Oregon offense was not working, it gave the ball back to the opposing team in about 60 seconds and forced Oregon’s exhausted defense back onto the field.
While running quarterbacks have had a bit of a resurgence in the NFL, there is no time-tested sample to show it will work in the long run. Kelly’s offense puts a premium on a tough, smart, mobile QB—not easy to find and a constant injury risk against NFL defenses.
If Kelly’s offense won’t work in the NFL, which seems likely, then what credentials does he have that justify him becoming a head coach in the NFL? None. Without that, he’s just a guy from the PAC 10.
If the hire of Kelly makes the Eagles retain Mike Vick to run his offense, this hiring is an unmitigated disaster. Vick is a small, timid quarterback at this point. At 33, he has become so brittle, he will last about two games running Kelly’s offense.
Could Kelly be successful? He may be so innovative that he can adapt to the NFL and create another offensive system that is conducive to the NFL game and will work at this level like his gimmick offense worked in the college game. This assumption seems to be a longshot.
In my opinion, Andy Reid did a lot of great things for the Eagles, but it was time for him to go. With the Eagles having jettisoned Reid, fans craved a return to defensive, physical football, as opposed to Reid’s pass-happy approach. Now, the fans are being given the new version of the run-and-shoot offense; a fad that flashes bright for a short time, then is dismantled by the rest of the NFL in short order.
This hire seems to signal the end of Nick Foles’ chance to become the Eagles long-term starting quarterback. Foles earned that chance, but continuing with him seems to be akin to trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
If an NFL team is trying to sell a college coach to its fan base, it should be a guy who’s been astoundingly successful at the college level. If Nick Saban was the guy, it would be much more legitimate. He has conquered college football in the SEC. Chip Kelly has had four good years at Oregon in the much lower-level PAC-10.
Jim Harbaugh would be the obvious counter-argument; however, his success is a rarity and, no doubt, his 14 years as an NFL quarterback have been an important contributor.
Lurie, Roseman and Don Smolenski are the only people who were privy to Kelly’s presentation in their nine-hour interview. Each is an intelligent, successful guy and Lurie’s two previous hires—Ray Rhodes, and moreso, Andy Reid—have been good choices in their totality. Kelly obviously told the Eagles brass what they wanted to hear and they have earned some credibility in the arena of hiring head coaches.
That being said, hiring Kelly seems more of a risk than the likelihood of any possible rewards warrants. As a diehard Eagles fan, I sincerely hope I look back and eat these words. I will do so happily.
I do not think that will happen because I think this hiring has disaster written all over it.