Losing Chip Kelly Would Set Eagles Back 10 Years


Nov 26, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly during the fourth quarter of a NFL game on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Detroit won 45-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

As I sit here watching the snow fall on New England and Denver, I’m left thinking about the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.

You remember them? They’re that awful franchise from northern Ohio with the ugly uniforms and tradition of finishing dead last in their division.

The Browns haven’t had a winning record since 2007. In fact, they’ve finished .500 or better just three times since 1990. But while they may not have a lot of success, they do have a lot of something else.

Coaches. Over that same time span, nine different people have coached the Browns.

See, the Browns have a history of doing stupid, horrible things with personnel, and also being incredibly idiotic with their coaching moves. You can’t build anything if you’re changing the guy in charge every three years.

This brings me back to the Philadelphia Eagles and the insanity that currently surrounds this team. People are calling for Chip Kelly’s head because the team isn’t living up to expectations.

Sorry, folks, but it’s too late for any of this. Not only do I believe owner Jeff Lurie shouldn’t fire Chip Kelly, but I’d go so far as to say he can’t possibly fire Chip Kelly, nor can he allow Kelly to leave for another job in the NFL or college.

Let’s start with the reasons he shouldn’t:

  • Kelly has actually proven himself to be a pretty darn good football coach. Remember, he inherited a 4-12 team and went on to win 20 games over the next two seasons while Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez were his quarterbacks.
  • Kelly is an innovator whose ideas had already been picked up by NFL coaches before he even arrived in the pros. People like Bill Belichick were out there copying his methods for crying out loud.
  • For all the anger about this season, the Eagles lost three games by a total of six points earlier this year. We’re talking about a made field goal in Atlanta, a defensive stop in Washington and Mark Sanchez not throwing a pick against Miami from this team being 7-4 right now.

As for the reasons Lurie can’t possibly make this move, well, we’re too far down the rabbit hole to go back. When Lurie handed Chip the keys to the castle in the offseason, we were all getting in for the long haul. As general manager, Chip Kelly made some controversial moves, but they were all logical ones, too. Consider:

  • With a cap imbalance and the undisputed weakness of his team being the defense, Chip made moves to bolster that side of the ball and invest more dollars in that unit.
  • Yes, he traded LeSean McCoy to do part of it, but he replaced McCoy with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. Due respect to Shady, but the two of them have been more productive.
  • He cut Todd Herremans, who can’t even get onto the field in Indianapolis. He also got rid of Evan Mathis, who is undoubtedly a solid player. However, to say there was no plan to replace them is ignoring the facts. Andrew Gardner was lost for the season in Week 3, and at the time was the top-rated lineman for the Eagles. If you want to call Chip shortsighted with regards to the offensive line, it’s only fair to acknowledge that he appeared to get things right on Gardner. The problem was depth, which is really the problem for every team.
  • He signed Byron Maxwell to a huge deal and that now looks foolish. But no one actually knew that at the time. Sure, you can find a token article out there that has some unnamed source saying Maxwell is being overrated in free agency, but you can find those articles on everyone. Fact is, Maxwell was the top corner available and that position represented the Eagles’ biggest need. Chip went out and got the guy. Is he a bust? Sure. But the logic was sound.
  • I’m really tired of people complaining about Miles Austin, too. Remember, it was in early March when Jeremy Maclin turned down a very, very good contract offer from the Eagles to return to his home state with his original coach for even more money. A few weeks later, Chip signed Austin as a veteran receiver to provide some leadership to a young group of players. Now, is Austin a great player? Absolutely not. He’s not even a good player. But he’s also, what, the fifth receiver on the depth chart (Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Riley Cooper, Josh Huff, Miles Austin)?
  • Sam Bradford acquired, Nick Foles traded. Foles has already lost his starting job in St. Louis because he’s not good enough for the job. Bradford is hurt and hasn’t been very good, but given what Foles is (which is now obvious to all) the move was worth the risk. Not many teams in the NFL have outstanding starting quarterbacks. The Eagles had a chance to get a guy that could have been one of those guys. They had to do it.

But forget all of this, because there’s really no denying the most important fact: The Eagles can’t afford to lose Chip Kelly because this is Chip Kelly’s team, now more than ever. Back during the preseason, with all of the roster turnover, a lot of people believed the Eagles would struggle this year. Then the preseason game in Green Bay happened and a lot of people believed the Eagles would win the Super Bowl.

It seems the first inclination was the best, after all. Chip is rebuilding this franchise the way he sees fit and one season isn’t enough time to possibly judge the results. To lose Kelly now, either by firing him or allowing him to take another job, would be disastrous.

We can’t go back and undo the moves he’s made. All we can do is allow him to keep moving, keep modifying his roster and give him time to see if it works.

The Eagles haven’t won a title since 1960. We’ve been waiting for a while. We can give Chip another season or two to see if he’s the answer. Pull the plug now and we’re putting ourselves in step with the Cleveland Browns.