Chip Kelly will land softly on his feet.
Just hours after NFL reported that Chip Kelly relieved from his duties as head coach and primary personnel overseer of the Philadelphia Eagles, there was already speculation that he would soon find himself in one the college football vacancies. Whether Kelly’s eventual hiring somewhere is deserving remains irrelevant. The real question must be – should Chip Kelly get another crack at an NFL head coaching job?
Chip Kelly leaves the Philadelphia Eagles in shambles somewhat. You have to look past his overall coaching record of 26-21. You have to look at some of the curious moves made by him. Letting several Eagles’ players go who made a mark in the consecutive 10-6 seasons during the first two years of Kelly’s tenure put a bull’s-eye on what happened this year.
Chip Kelly: "I deeply regret that we did not bring this great city and its fans the championship they deserve" pic.twitter.com/HGYmiR0fsp
— Jeff Skversky (@JeffSkversky) December 31, 2015
During the NFL offseason, Chip Kelly sought after, and was granted the right to be in charge of all decisions regarding player transactions. He reportedly leveraged his contract status in order to get control of player personnel.
If he did not get the green light to oversee player personnel, he would have walked out on his contract to coach the Eagles. Given his college football success, it had to be difficult to deny Chip Kelly his request. When you consider that most of the top NFL head coaches do not get that much power over roster decisions, Kelly should have been told no. As of now, only the New England Patriots Bill Belichick, Tampa Bay’s Lovie Smith, and Kansas City’s Andy Reid have that distinction.
Simply put, this Eagles’ team was built in Kelly’s image. If the Eagles fail, he fails. Most coaches would be given the benefit of the doubt for having a bad season. Kelly was afforded no such luxury. That is a clear indicator that both sides were not on the same page.
Chip Kelly was only in his third year on the job, and was 6-9 before biting the dust after two 10-6 seasons. There was a division title he won in his first year on the job.
Some of the big names who are gone from that team which won the NFC East in 2013 are running back LeSean McCoy (trade), cornerback Brandon Boykin (trade) and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin (both left via free-agency in consecutive seasons). Each of them were solid contributors on that team which won the NFC East. For neither of them to be part of the 2015 version of the Philadelphia Eagles, given that they were just entering their prime as players was and still is considered as an abomination in the city of brotherly love.
Philadelphia Eagles moments I will always remember where I was when they happened: Vick signed, McNabb traded, Bradford trade, Kelly fired.
— Bryn Swartz (@eaglescentral) December 31, 2015
The fact that McCoy, Boykin, Jackson, and Maclin were all removed from the team, while wide receiver Riley Cooper remained on the team was embarrassing to many.
Many can recall that it was 18 months ago when Cooper was caught on video at a Kenny Chesney concert using a racial slur. Most of the players on the Eagles wanted Cooper dismissed immediately. Keeping him on the roster, while not issuing him a penalty was divisive.
Some will say that was when Chip Kelly began to lose the locker room. It has carried over to this season also. According to a recent Deadspin report, several players hated to play for him near the end of his tenure.
Winning is the ultimate cure all in sports. Losing games while losing the locker room is a death kneel. Even if you work hard at your craft, it is the results that matter.
Chip Kelly's firing was PREDICTABLE and LONG OVERDUE. https://t.co/8o8HMbanMS
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) December 30, 2015
As Philadelphia Eagles’ CEO Jeffery Lurie alluded to when he made his statements about Chip Kelly’s dismissal (via Pro Football Talk), the former Eagles’ coach worked, but the results were “mediocre.”
One of the chief reasons for the mediocrity was the failure of finding the right quarterback to operate his system. An offseason trade where Kelly gave up a somewhat productive Nick Foles brought back the oftentimes injured Sam Bradford. It was an experiment at the time of the trade. That experiment failed miserably. Bradford is a pocket passer playing in a Chip Kelly-ran offensive system which called for a mobile quarterback. It would have been interesting to see what Kelly could do if he had the right play-caller to operate his scheme.
Chip Kelly, gone the way Riley Cooper should've been.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) December 30, 2015
There is a good possibility that the Tennessee Titans will have a coaching vacancy as soon as Monday. Kelly could land there and become reunited with Marcus Mariota, his quarterback while he was coaching the Oregon Ducks. Since Chip Kelly has now indicated that his is only interested in coaching, not personnel control, the Titans job could become enticing.
Chip Kelly’s lackluster performance in the third season with the Philadelphia Eagles will not dissuade a team from hiring him. His first two years there will likely allow him to land on his feet.
[Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images Sport]