Is Chip Kelly Making College Coach Mistakes?


Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly talks with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton prior to playing the game during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

New coaches making the change from the college to NFL often times struggle. Bobby Patrino, Steve Spurrier, and Nick Saban, are just a few examples. There have been the exceptions, those who have done well at both levels, but overall the college to pro transition has historically been a difficult one for head football coaches.

Whether due to dealing with 20 to 30 year old adults rather than 18 year old kids,  due to the higher win totals being harder to reach in the pros, the higher level of competition and talent spread across 32 teams rather than 120, or due to the source of the athletic talent which is a controlled draft rather than the wide-open nature of recruiting is unknown. Whatever the case may be, college coaches have struggled

Recently Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll have found success and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly made the transition last year and like Carroll and Harbaugh, did well.

However, heading into his second offseason, is he beginning to make the same mistakes that Patrino, Spurrier, and Saban made. Kelly has made some questionable moves, the big one, releasing DeSean jackson.

One problem that some college coaches face, is that they go after players that they had ties with at the college level. This is becoming a scary trend with Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles.

In last year’s draft, four of the Eagles’ eight draft picks were players that played in the Pac-12. Nick Foles, the quarterback that the Eagles turned to four games into the regular season, played in the Pac-12. Mark Sanchez, the quarterback that the Eagles signed in free agency, played in the Pac-12. Matt Barkley, the questionable fourth round pick? Played in the Pac-12.

Those players are all quarterbacks, but you can see the trend. The Eagles have been tied as potential partners for the 49ers who are trying to trade away LaMichael James, and it has even been said that Kelly’s time in the Pac-12 could have an impact in this year’s draft as Marquise Lee out of USC could drop to the Eagles at 22, and with the need for receiver, the Eagles could take him.

The reason this is such a concern is that in Nick Saban’s time with the Dolphins in 2005 and 2006, five of Saban’s 11 draft picks and both of his first round picks were players who had played in the SEC and had ties with Saban. That’s just less than 50% which is right where Kelly is at now.

In 2003 and 2004, four of Spurrier’s 13 draft picks were out of the SEC, where Spurrier had previously coaches, thats almost 25% of his picks which is pretty high.

College coaches have found success in the early goings of their tenure, such as Switzer, Mariucci, and Saban, but it’s the second and third season when the mistakes start to pile up and the NFL starts to overwhelm.

Not saying this is going to happen with Kelly and the Eagles, just that it is an interesting statistic. Kelly did well in his first season, and the Eagles are looking to build on that going into 2014.

The bright spot in this whole situation is that Kelly did take a team that was a mess in 2012, and took it to a division title in 2013. He has made, what some fans would consider questionable moves, but you can only trust that is what was for the best for the Philadelphia Eagles and the best for the future of the franchise.