Is Chip Kelly Pulling a Reid by Hiring Defensive Assistants Before a DC? | Eagles Addict

Rumors are trickling out here and there about Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly’s staff.  Since Kelly is all about the offense, logically the most important hire he will make will be at the defensive coordinator position.

The Eagles have stated they will not make any public comments about Kelly’s staff until it’s set.  Therefore, all we have now are rumors and reports.

Jim Herrmann

Jim Herrmann the next DC? Photo from

The rumors/reports about who the next DC might be point to Giants LB coach Jim Herrmann and Georgia’s Todd Grantham.  Herrmann is supposedly interviewing for the job and the word on Grantham is that if he’s offered the job he’ll take it.

Neither person really seems like a slam-dunk candidate at this point.

With that said, several reports are surfacing about apparent defensive assistant coaches.

If the reports turn out to be true, Kelly has hired (or will hire) Jerry Azzinaro (DL coach from Oregon), Bill McGovern (LB coach at Boston College) and Rick Minter (DC for Kentucky).

None of these guys have ever coached at the NFL level.

Since the Eagles are being secretive at this point about Kelly’s staff, it’s possible that they already know who their defensive coordinator is (or will be) and he is consulting with that person on these reported hires.

However, there are no strong reports or rumors to indicate who the DC might be, so at this point it would seem Kelly is hiring guys that could possibly fill the roles of LB coach, DL coach or some other position coach.

If hiring a defensive position coach before hiring your coordinator sounds familiar, it should.  This is what led to the debacle of Juan Castillo being named DC.

Andy Reid hired DL coach Jim Washburn before naming a coordinator.  I thought that was really odd when he did it, and I find it equally as odd that Kelly would be doing that now.

If, as presumed, Kelly will be handing the defense over to the coordinator, why would he be picking that person’s assistants?  Logically, you would think the DC would have most of the say about who his DL, LB and secondary coaches would be.

The DC is the leader, he should have the guys he wants to work with, not guys appointed to him.

This approach failed miserably with Castillo and Washburn.  It led to divisiveness amongst the defensive players and there were reports of a disrespectful relationship between Washburn and Castillo which ultimately led to a complete defensive breakdown.

I certainly don’t expect that will happen again this year under the new regime, but it should serve as a red flag to head coaches who choose to hire position coaches before coordinators (particularly on the side of the ball that they won’t be involved with as much).

If you look around at this year’s crop of new NFL head coaches, you’ll notice that most of them are naming their coordinators first.  Reid hired Doug Pederson and Bob Sutton, Gus Bradley hired Jedd Fisch and Bob Babich, etc etc.

When a new head coach is hired, he almost always names his coordinators first before filling out the rest of his staff because he will need their input into the decisions.

Makes perfect sense, right?

Then what the hell are the Eagles doing?  A coaching staff has to work well together, that’s why the head guys always bring in people they know and/or respect.  Chip Kelly is bringing in guys he knows or respects, and for the offensive side that’s fine.

But for the defensive side, I’m not so sure how “fine” that will be.  The thought all along is that Kelly needs to make a strong hire at DC (hopefully with NFL experience) and let him run the show on that side of the ball.

Therefore, he should be the first hire by Kelly…not his presumed assistants.

When you build a team, usually you build it from the top down: Owner buys team –> hires top level people such as team president, director of player personnel, and a general manager –> then hire the head coach –> head coach hires his coordinators –> then the assistant coaches –> then cumulatively they build the roster of players they think will win a championship.

Pretty standard, really.

At this point, I’ll give Chip Kelly the benefit of the doubt.  He’s new and his way of doing things shouldn’t be questioned yet.  However, I do find this method at least a little questionable.  Maybe I’m just scarred by the whole Reid/Washburn/Castillo thing.

Kelly comes in labeled as a “brilliant football mind”, but sometimes the smarter you are, the less common sense you have.

Hopefully he has a plan and knows what he’s doing in making the most important decisions he will initially make as a head coach: hiring a competent and cohesive staff.



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