For just under three years, Chip Kelly blazed a trail through Philadelphia that will never be forgotten (for all the wrong reasons).
It happens every off-season. There’s a name that just doesn’t stop coming up when we mention head coaching vacancies in the NFL. Some are talented. Others are more of the “flavor of the month” variety. Prior to the 2013 off-season, the name rolling off of everyone’s tongue was Chip Kelly. He’d soon become the latter.
In the beginning:
Kelly visited several NFL franchises before finally being hired by the Philadelphia Eagles. Following a 14 year era that belonged to former head coach Andy Reid, the Eagles fan base had grown tired. Wins were scare, and the team wasn’t responding. Some fans were even saying things like they’d sell their season tickets, turn off when the Eagles were playing or stop going to home games. Now, we’re all aware of the fact that none of that was probably true. Eagles fans are some of the most loyal in all of sports, but the fact that they were even making these types of comments shows you how bad things had gotten.
Kelly rode in as the conquering hero and the anti-Reid. There were no more “I’ve got to do better” and “that’s all on me” answers from Reid in post-game press conferences. Kelly was entertaining. He had a quick wit, and he was a little smug. All were qualities fans would grow to despise later, but they were fun for a while. Winning 20 games in your first two seasons will do that for you.
Where it all went wrong:
Unfortunately, the marriage of Chip Kelly and the Eagles was one that would end up in divorce court. It was ugly. It was messy, and just like any other failed marriage, both sides are still trying to put the pieces back together and move on. Kelly did do a few things to help the team. He acquired running back Darren Sproles and safety Malcolm Jenkins via free agency. He drafted linebacker Jordan Hicks, wide receiver Jordan Matthews, tight end Zach Ertz and right tackle Lane Johnson.
Kelly’s downfall and what seems to still plague him is the fact that he wasn’t a great leader of men. He couldn’t and still can’t manage people, and he struggles with men who are strong-willed and have a backbone. For that reason wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy are all gone.
Fan favorites were shipped off. The guys he got to replace them (Nelson Agholor for instance) paled in comparison. He even hired a defensive coordinator that would evntually be fired and still has yet to be hired by anyone else in the NFL. Kelly didn’t even re-hire him in San Francisco. Fans never forgave him for his mistakes. The team has limped on ever since, and they’re still trying to put it all back together.
Better days are ahead:
The Eagles have a new coach now, and seeing current head coach Doug Pederson address the media during the NFL Combine made us think of his predecessor. It’s something Kelly never did. With Pederson, the Eagles wanted to try an approach that was different from the stern rule of Kelly. They went with a coach that was more player friendly. The jury’s still out on that decision. There have been arrests of team members and complaints that Pederson may be a little too loose. Still, he’s not Kelly, and we’re all thankful for that. Our hope is better days are ahead. For the Eagles, it appears that may be true. For Kelly, not so much.