Chip Kelly Winning May Be The Eagles Worst Enemy


Dec 14, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly before the start of the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Could Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly’s affinity for winning be what’s holding the team back from truly taking the next step in their long-term plans? Absolutely.

The work Kelly has done so far in taking over a toxic locker room that sputtered to a 4-12 record in 2012 and providing immediate and tangible returns (2013’s division title and 2014’s matching ten-win season) is admirable, but it’s a short-term approach at best.

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In terms of the NFL Draft, Kelly has really only had one legitimate chance at selecting “his guy” so far, and that was in his first season — just months after getting the job. One could even argue that he failed, considering the Miami Dolphins traded up to the third selection to select Kelly’s former defensive terror, Dion Jordan. Still, Lane Johnson became the heir to Jason Peters‘ throne at left tackle and has done an effective job at manning the right tackle spot in the meantime.

In 2014, the Eagles gambled by trading back four slots with the Cleveland Browns so the latter could draft Johnny Manziel, adding an extra third round pick in the process. It’s only educated speculation that the reason the team traded back was because players like WR Brandin Cooks, LB C.J. Mosley, WR Odell Beckham Jr., and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix were off the board, but the team settled on LB Marcus Smith II.

While the Eagles had no problem “settling” for Lane Johnson fourth overall in 2013, a very talented player in his own right that has proven to be far better than Jordan so far, the stubbornness and refusal to take a chance to secure their top target reared it’s head again (it was rumored at the 2014 NFL Draft that the Eagles would have had to part with a third round pick to move up for Clinton-Dix.)

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The real problem is that the honeymoon period for Chip Kelly is over. He won’t be able to pick high enough to have a chance at a franchise cornerstone without taking a massive risk with a trade, or fans calling for his head due to poor performance. After back-to-back seasons with a 10-6 record, any steps backwards will only heighten the frustration that already began to show this year when the Eagles lost three of their final four to miss playoffs. There’s no more time for “we’re a work in progress, this will take time to build” as a fan base. The sad thing is, losing may have been exactly what the Eagles needed in the short-term to make the long-term possible.

For all his successes and failures so far, he’s done it without making significant changes to the most front-facing appearance of this Eagles team. Culture has changed, the players enjoy being Eagles again, but all but two of the main players on this team (with the exception of S Malcolm Jenkins and LB Connor Barwin) are from Reid’s tenure. QB Nick Foles (2012), HB LeSean McCoy (2009), WR Jeremy Maclin (2009), OT Jason Peters (acquired in trade with Buffalo – 2009), DE Fletcher Cox (2012), and LB Mychal Kendricks (2012) are great to have, but Kelly hasn’t had (or taken) the opportunity to really put his stamp on the team yet.

The real problem is that the honeymoon period for Chip Kelly is over.

This year, the main focus of rumor fodder has been about Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. Sure, the Eagles might end up getting Mariota. It would cost multiple limbs, but in theory it’s not impossible. However, the need for a quarterback appears less that it would have been if his team weren’t able to hit the ten mark in the wins column. If the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t skirt out an early 3-0 start, maybe this team is 7-9 and not only is a quarterback logical, it’s more feasible to make a play for when discussing a potential trade up.

Now, in order for Kelly to truly impact this team, he’ll have to determine whether he’s willing to risk it all and blow this team up when it looks like they’re in position to be contenders with an extra couple of defensive pieces.

By opting to pull the trigger on any move involving the quarterback, Chip’s winning ways may have cost him more than just a couple of first round picks — as any significant QB move doesn’t yield major dividends by 2018, the last year of Chip Kelly’s five year deal with the Eagles, he will be the next former Eagles head coach. That’s if he makes it to the end of the contract at all, whether he leaves on his own accord or not.

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