The Abrupt End of the Chip Kelly Experiment

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Well, I guess that’s that.

There will not be a Super Bowl championship in Philadelphia once again, when in fact it seemed like a sure thing that Chip Kelly was the guy who would finally deliver the elusive prize to title-starved Eagles fans all over the world.

Nope, he failed just like every other coach, and possibly worse than any other Eagles coach in history. I never got around to writing a post before the firing, but it was my belief, that because this year went so poorly, and all of Chips’s personnel moves backfired, I thought it would be best for the team to completely sever ties.

I was startled when he was “released” just like I was startled when DeSean Jackson was cut and LeSean McCoy was shipped to Buffalo. However, it was more of a pleasant surprise to me than an out-of-the-blue shock. Jeffrey Lurie made a huge blunder last year letting Kelly bully him into handing over total control and he quickly changed that mistake, rather than going through another season to see if the mistakes could be fixed.

Will Chip Kelly get another coaching job in the NFL? I believe so and I also believe he will be successful. But only if he realizes that culture DOES NOT beat scheme and you can’t build a team full of boy scouts. Talent wins in the NFL.

I’m not sure why I bought in and totally believed Kelly was some football savior. I tried to find parallels with other teams around the NFL, mainly Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, but Carroll would never let talent walk the way Kelly did, which should have been an obvious sign right there that Chip would not be successful.

I thought I could see some grand offensive powerhouse being built after watching a couple of impressive drives in the preseason. Nope, blind optimism got in the way there. It’s kind of hilarious how Eagles fans, like me, thought that small sample size would correlate to regular season success. Never again. (Until next year at least).

There will be a lot of reminiscing of this brief three-year relationship with Kelly and a ton of what-ifs.

What if Jeremy Maclin never gets hurt before the 2013 season? Then Riley Cooper never sees substantial time. Hell, he’s probably cut after the video of him using the N-word comes out. I bring this up because Cooper had his only productive year in Kelly’s system that season. Did Kelly simply think he could plug and play anyone in his system after Cooper’s success? It’s a shame we never got to see DeSean and Maclin opposite one another in this offense.

Why did he have to have total control over the roster? Why couldn’t he just coach? For a guy who said he only wanted to coach when he first got here, that didn’t turn out to be the case. Did his ego get inflated upon success in year one? Probably. Still, I’m not sure why he would want that responsibility.

Why did Jeffrey Lurie let Chip have total control of personnel when he had never accomplished anything of worth? He said in his post-firing presser that he wanted to hold Chip “accountable.” That’s a weird way to phrase giving someone more responsibility. If Lurie would’ve put his foot down and thwarted Kelly’s power play, maybe Kelly does bolt last year and the Eagles are actually in better shape than they are today.

And the Eagles are a mess. The offense has been stripped off all notable talent. The defense has a mismash of 4-3, 3-4 style players, so there’s going to be more defensive turnover for the foreseeable future to match whatever scheme the new coach chooses to implement. Huge chunks of the salary cap are tied up to unproductive veterans DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell. They don’t have a second round pick this year. And I could probably keep going.

It’s going to be another crazy off-season.

Ultimately, for a team with no Super Bowls, hiring Kelly was a risk worth taking. I don’t hate Chip and I hope he makes the necessary adjustments to his own coaching philosophy to become a success once again. The team needed as stark a contrast in  football scheme as possible from the Reid era. He certainly reinvigorated a fan base that had experienced 14 years of bitter disappointment and the same tired mistakes on the field. The promise of innovation, bold forward-thinking strategies was more than a welcome departure.

But there was always the risk, the risk of buying into a guy who was an assistant at New Hampshire only a decade ago. That his offense wouldn’t prove suitable for the highest level of football. That decades of traditional football operations would suddenly become eradicated by sports science up tempo offenses and new practice regimens. For every Jimmy Johnson comparison I chose to indulge, I conveniently dismissed haters who labeled Chip the next Steve Spurrier.

When you’re as championship deprived as Philadelphia fans are, you’ll pretty much talk yourself into anything. It’s a shame that Chip didn’t work out in Philadelphia, but it shouldn’t have been a surprise.


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