I’ve heard it all since news broke that Chip Kelly won’t be coaching the Philadelphia Eagles anymore.
I’ve heard the tired argument that this is a “players league” despite little evidence to back that up. I’ve heard it was because he let “stars” go when he shouldn’t have despite statistics saying he made the right decision on a majority of them. I also saw this reaction from former Eagles’ Quarterback turned Fox Sports analyst Donovan McNabb:
For a guy so often lambasted by Philadelphia media and fans you would think he, of all people, wouldn’t be part of the “Pile On Gang” but such is what happens when one tries to be “impartial” with their takes.
Reality isn’t a world most fans and armchair analysts like to live in. People love to lump Maclin in as a Kelly “castoff” when the reality is they tried their darndest to keep Maclin in an Eagles uniform. The Reality is that Jordan Matthews and Ryan Mathews/Demarco Murray/Darren Sproles still outperformed Lesean McCoy and Desean Jackson statistically in 2015.
Another reality? What really sunk Kelly was the lack of a Quarterback; the most egregious of NFL offenses in a Quarterback driven league.
But it wasn’t as if Kelly didn’t attempt to get his guy at that position either. Plenty of reports linked Kelly to massive offers trying to trade up for Mariota prior to the draft but none worked out. Such is the life as a general manager. What many like to hold onto are his words of affirmation regarding Sam Bradford afterwards, but what was he supposed to say? The attempts to get the guy I wanted didn’t work out and I feel the same way you do about Sam Bradford? Honest or not that isn’t how this works; and Bradford was definitely an upgrade to Nick Foles.
Kelly isn’t infallible by any stretch of the imagination. It’s obvious he rubbed people the wrong way in Philadelphia; he often over thought moves; and probably should have adjusted his practice routines to fit the league and not college football. But the results were obvious: two 10-win seasons and a chance for two division crowns in three years. Yes kelly rubbed a lot of people the wrong way but what successful coach doesn’t? How many of us would invite Bill Belichick over based on press conference appearances alone? Tom Coughlin has an eternal scowl on his face. Mike McCarthy doesn’t seem like the most amicable guy, right? Meanwhile Jason Garrett smiles all the time, has had a roster full of stars, and his winning percentage is worse than Kelly’s.
My theory is dynasties in the NFL are built on systems and absolute organization. Kelly was coming dangerously close to proving, once again, that the names on the back of the jersey are inter-changeable outside of Quarterback; Philadelphia has a history of players who believe otherwise. Masking that fact is important for Kelly to understand if he is going to bounce back and coach again in the NFL. Understanding and doing due diligence on players such as Demarco Murray (who really rubbed me the wrong way when he ran to the owner for his lack of touches) aren’t the kind of players who are going to win you championships.
Best case scenario is Kelly lands in Tennessee with Mariota and the number one or two pick in the 2016 draft. He’ll need to work on interpersonal skills with players and personnel in the NFL to master that art of building the organization the way he wants.
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