Chip Kelly was a phenomenal college football coach, and he did a great job with the Philadelphia Eagles in his first NFL season as a head coach, but will the name Chip Kelly someday be thrown around with the likes of Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh or Vince Lombardi? Well…it is way too premature for such comparisons (and possibly borderline offensive to those prior-mentioned football icons). Although it definitely means something when Bill Belichick invites you to Foxboro, MA to talk football, then implements your ideas into the Patriots offense.
“I was interested to hear how he did it,” Belichick said. “I would say he expanded it to a different level and it was very interesting to understand what he was doing. Certainly I’ve learned a lot from talking to Chip about his experiences with it and how he does it and his procedure and all that.”(6)
“Kelly’s overall message to the Patriots: Don’t put a limit on your players’ minds; they will learn whatever you teach them.”(6)
Players will indeed learn whatever you teach them. Kelly proved this last season with the Eagles. He took the same players (with a few additions and eliminations) that went 4-12 in 2012 with Andy Reid, and produced a 10-6, division-winning, playoff team.
Just to reiterate (from last week’s post) what Chip Kelly has accomplished in one season as an NFL coach: he improved the Eagles from 4-12 to 10-6, established Nick Foles as a pro bowl/franchise quarterback, produced the league’s best running back in Lesean McCoy, and Desean Jackson had his best season statistically. What is even more interesting is that Kelly allowed his pro bowl receiver (Desean) to sign with any other team this offseason–probably knowing full well that he could sign with a division rival (which we all know happened when Desean signed with the Washington Redskins). Either Chip Kelly has a lot of guts or he is an idiot, and he definitely is not the latter. At the University of Oregon Kelly earned the nickname “Big Balls Chip” for good reason.(5) There is really no other explanation as to how a coach can allow his best wide receiver to simply walk away without any compensation then the fact that Chip has immense certainty in his own system and philosophies.
Mark Saltveit, author of The Tao of Chip Kelly: Lesson’s from America’s Most Successful Coach, has stated “He’s a straight-forward guy. What he relies on is fact-based and grounded in reality. The whole offense is designed to the get the faster guys on the team the ball in open space.”(8) Kelly came to Philadelphia with a reputation as a free and forward thinker.(8) Although, Chip is not reinventing the wheel with the Eagles. Running an up-tempo, no-huddle offense is nothing new. Kelly will borrow plays and tinker with them until they fit to his liking. “I try to say this all the time. Here’s our offense. We run the see-coast offense. If we see something, OK, and we like it, and we think it fits, we’re going to run it. The Philadelphia Eagles run the see-coast offense. Let’s run with that today, and we’ll go from there.”(12)
“That’s the power of the Chip Kelly offense. When you try to take away everything, you’re left giving up the one thing you swore you wouldn’t.”(7) Above everything else that Chip Kelly does as a head coach, the way he prepares his teams is most crucial to winning football games. After a full year under Chip’s system it would not be surprising if the Philadelphia Eagles are one of the most error-free teams in 2014–while simultaneously being a top offensive unit for the second year in a row.
Linebacker Jason Phillips, who tore his ACL at the beginning of training camp last year was quoted saying,
“Chip Kelly is obviously Chip Kelly. He’s a great coach. He hired a great coaching staff. Just something about the Philadelphia Eagles. I feel like it’s going to be a good couple of years for them,” linebacker Jason Phillips said, via PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “From what I can tell, a lot of the guys they brought in are tough, smart, legit players. No egos, and they’re here to make the Philadelphia team everything it can be. From what I can tell, the guys they’ve brought in are those type of guys. That is the type of team that Coach Kelly’s trying to bring together.”(11)
“That includes the locker room, where new coach Chip Kelly has ditched the old model of grouping players according to position. Players can be anywhere in the room, and it appears some thought was put into it.”(10) “If you look around the room right now, most of it is veterans next to young guys,” center Jason Kelce said, according to PhillyMag.com. “So if you look around the room, that looks like what he was trying to do. Last year, I think the team lacked a lot of leadership.”(10)
In case Eagles fans were worried that the rest of NFL will be ready for their fast-paced scheme in 2014, “according to the Morning Call, the Eagles‘ already fast practices are now moving ‘like a drag race.’ After the team came in just 13th in total plays last season, and with most players having a year in his system, Kelly apparently feels the need for speed.”(2)
One last point to exemplify Chip Kelly’s ingenious approach to this game came very recently.
“During ‘Phase Two’ of the offseason program, the offense and defense may not face each other in any of the drills. Eagles blog Bleeding Green Nation offers a fascinating explanation of the remote control car simulating motion on offense so coaches can watch defensive players shift in reaction. Good for Kelly. He has found a loophole that allows him to conform to the letter of the NFL’s offseason laws while bridging the on-field knowledge gap.”(3)
Finally, a promising trend to Chip’s narrow loss total is that he doesn’t seem to get blown out by opponents, especially in big games. In 2010 Oregon Ducks lost the BCS Championship to Auburn on a last second field goal. The Ducks also lost eligibility to go to the second, consecutive BCS Championship in 2011 on a last second field goal to USC, and Oregon’s only loss in 2012 was to Stanford by failing to make a field goal in overtime.(1) Last year, Kelly and the Eagles lost to the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round by a last-minute field goal.
If Kelly can be counted on to always leave his team with a fighting chance, then Eagles fans have a lot to be excited about for many seasons to come.
Sources for Parts I and II