The hottest name in the search for the next head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles is Chip Kelly. And as reported yesterday by Mike Garafolo, Jeff Lurie and crew will be interviewing Kelly over this upcoming weekend.
Even if you’re not a big fan of college football, I’m sure you’ve heard his name a few hundred times recently, right? Every where you’ve looked for the past few weeks, you must have seen all kinds of rumors and speculation that Kelly is the Eagles’ top choice to replace the departed Andy Reid.
Kelly is not officially allowed to talk to NFL teams until after Oregon’s season has concluded, which would be after tonight’s Fiesta Bowl game. He apparently has interviews lined up with the Eagles, Browns and Bills as of right now.
With all the hype surrounding him, I’m still not sure how I feel about him being the guy in charge of my football team.
I’ve been reading quite a bit about Kelly over the last week or two, ever since the speculation about him being the Eagles’ favorite started gaining momentum. And as a result, I’m coming away with a feeling of excitement and concern.
In other words, I’m conflicted because I see extremes with him…as in, he could very well be the next great coach or the next great bust.
After doing some research, it sounds like he’s the perfect college coach. The big question is, can he be successful at the NFL level?
He certainly has the traits I’d like to see in the next Eagles’ head coach. Based on things I’ve read in various places, this is what I like about him:
- He emphasizes being able to adapt his scheme to his personnel
- He holds everyone accountable (aka, do your job or I’ll find someone else who will)
- He is highly organized
- He has the mindset to create a winning atmosphere from top to bottom (he wants everyone in the organization on the same page and delivering the same message)
- He has a reputation as an offensive innovator (as in, he can “create” an offense based on his personnel, which I view as different than “adapting” his offense)
- He is high energy and up-tempo
- He has been extremely successful as head coach at Oregon
- He is bold and aggressive in the way he calls a game
- He has the swagger that some folks can confuse with arrogance (ala Buddy Ryan-ish?)
- He can tell an annoying fan on the field after a game: “Hey, will you shut up?!”
I’m sure I could find other traits that I find positive, but those are the main ones. I can see why NFL owners find him appealing to be the guy to take charge of their football operations.
Hell, I got a little pumped up reading about all of these great attributes he apparently has.
But then I started looking at the downside to him. Yes folks, there is a downside to the awesomeness that is Chip Kelly. Well, at least to me there is…
Here is what concerns me:
- He has absolutely zero NFL experience at any level (player or coach)
- His demanding style could wear thin on NFL players quickly
- Players could refute him due to lack of experience at the NFL level
- Kelly’s success at Oregon has been against primarily weak competition
One thing I’m not concerned with, like some other people are, is how his offense will translate to the NFL. Some folks use the word “gimmick” when describing his offensive scheme.
However, everything else I’ve read about him and statements I’ve heard him make about adapting his offense to his personnel ultimately relieve any concern in that area. If he is as bright as everyone says he is, he shouldn’t have any issues in this area.
He’ll make his offense, or create a new one, that will work at the NFL level.
Historically though, college head coaches who jump to the NFL fail badly far more often than succeed. Of course, that can probably be said for any position from which a head coach comes from.
However, when I think of college head coaches with no NFL experience, I think of two guys on opposite ends of the spectrum: Jimmy Johnson and Steve Spurrier.
Johnson was wildly successful with the Dallas Cowboys and built a dynasty there (though he was aided immensely by the ridiculous Herschel Walker trade). Steve Spurrier, on the other hand, failed miserably in Washington.
Neither coach had any experience at the NFL level before making the jump, just like Kelly. Most college coaches who have made the jump to the NFL had previous experience there, usually as an assistant coach or coordinator.
In general, most college head coaches have failed after making the jump to the NFL and only a spare few who have succeeded. For every Tom Coughlin there is a Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Lane Kiffin, Mike Riley, Dennis Erickson and Butch Davis.
The good news is that Chip Kelly appears to be more similar to Jimmy Johnson and Tom Coughlin in terms of personality. Kelly is perceived as smart, driven, a disciplinarian and always looking for ways to improve whereas someone like Spurrier was known as arrogant, aloof and not having that same drive (aka, he thought he was “hot shit” and therefore didn’t need to work hard).
In any case, every coach comes with risk as there are no sure things out there. As much as I like Mike McCoy (whom the Eagles will interview this weekend as well, by the way), we can find concerns with him as well.
However, I point this out about Kelly because he is the hottest name out there and truly epitomizes a boom or bust candidate. Seriously, you could look up “boom or bust” in the dictionary and see this:
I don’t think there will be any in-between with Kelly…he will either take the league by storm and revolutionize NFL offenses or flame out quickly and be forgotten about in three years.
If he comes to the Eagles, I certainly hope it’s the former and not the latter.