It’s the end of an era in Philadelphia. It seems like it’s over before it had a chance to begin. The ugly love affair between Chip Kelly and the Eagles has come to an abrupt halt as Eagles owner, Jeffrey Lurie fired Kelly prior to the team’s final game.
Entering the season, Kelly launched himself into the spotlight with questionable, yet rational moves. It started when he traded away the franchise’s leading rusher over to Buffalo in exchange for linebacker, Kiko Alonso – a guy who played for Chip at Oregon. Alonso dealt with injuries early in the season and hasn’t made much of an impact. To replace McCoy’s presence in the backfield, reigning rushing leader DeMarco Murray was signed to a hefty $42 million deal, along with Ryan Mathews. It hasn’t worked out by any means – Murray has made no impact and has brought more negativity to the team than anything. His key fumble this past week against the Redskins all but wrapped up a wasted season in Philly and cost Kelly his job – how ironic he was the man to do that.
Trading for Sam Bradford raised a lot of eyebrows, as well. In exchange Kelly gave up former Pro Bowler Nick Foles and a 2nd round pick. Bradford wasn’t given enough time to actually learn the offense, although he did show signs of flashes. We’ll chalk that up as a failed experiment based on the lack of time given to make it work. Other questionable moves made by Kelly was the outright release of DeSean Jackson prior to the 2014 season, and the decision to let Jeremy Maclin walk in free agency. Replacing them were rookies in each respective season with Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor, two WRs who have had struggles with drops this year.
Many forget that Chip Kelly actually led the Eagles to a playoff appearance in his first season and posted back-to-back 10-6 records to start his NFL coaching career. Prior to the season he was given full GM responsibilities, which was probably a premature move on the ownership’s behalf. However, if you’re going to give that power to a brand new NFL head coach, at least give him time to incorporate his vision and to make it work. Clearly Chip Kelly knew what he wanted to do, you can’t just call that quits after one season. Now, the franchise has set themselves back even further as they enter a full-launched rebuilding mode.
Why was Chip Kelly even fired? I blame the media. It seems like ever since he set foot in Lincoln Financial Field, everyone was rooting against him, despite his great college reputation he had built up at Oregon. He quickly made a big impact in Philadelphia as his fast-paced offense was quickly on display.
After this past offseason, that just added more fuel to the fire. He built up too high of expectations for himself, and the media couldn’t help but eat that up – especially when things started to go south. The relationship with DeMarco Murray and lack of utilization on the field didn’t help things either. I wholeheartedly believe if Murray was never brought in, their season would’ve went much smoother with much less distractions. A backfield of Mathews and Darren Sproles would’ve sufficed.
At the end of the day, this just wasn’t mean to be – it’s like that one high school relationship that everyone gossips about and actually influences enough to bring an end to. Chip Kelly wasn’t meant to work in Philadelphia.
Chip Kelly compiles a record of 25-21 and gets shafted before the season’s up, yet Gus Bradley goes 12-35 and secures a 4th year in Jacksonville. What is that?
I may have got off topic a bit with that rant, but I said just about everything on my mind – this article was a bit informal but that’s okay; it’s always good to publish initial thoughts without any rationality.
So what’s next for both parties after the breakup? The Eagles kind of screwed Chip with the timing – had they axed him earlier, he could’ve interviewed for enticing college openings such as the Miami job, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and others. Now he is limited to Ball State, not the ideal landing spot.
Will he stay in the NFL? Some may say he’s not good enough to coach in the NFL, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In three years, he had an overall winning record with a playoff appearance – he just needs ownership that will be patient with him and let him do his thing. Speculation cites Tennessee as a likely destination which would reunite him with Marcus Mariota. That seems too good to be true for both sides. I think it would serve as a great fit, and a very likely destination as Tennessee is in the hunt for a head coach after firing Ken Whisenhunt earlier in the season.
Who is the next headman in Philly? How do you follow up a personality like Chip Kelly? Pat Shurmur will serve as the interim coach in week 17’s matchup against the Giants. Shurmur has head coaching experience after a brief stint in Cleveland where he posted an overall record of 9-23 in two seasons – he had prior experience in Philly as the QB coach from 2002-2008; he’s a candidate to keep the job if Lurie wants to remove his “interim status”.
Other early candidates include former Eagles defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott. Offensive minded guys like Cincinnati’s Hue Jackson and Chicago’s Adam Gase will likely be interviewed – both are the hottest names out there on the market this offseason for a head coaching gig. Former Bills head coach Doug Marrone is another candidate for the job. It’s unlikely Philadelphia dips back into the college ranks.
What’s left to say? A promising start turned into an ugly ending. It’s a shame how the media impacted the relationship between Chip Kelly and the overall Philadelphia Eagles organization, fans included. Well, some of you got your wish – Kelly got fired. So what’s next in your master plan?
As an Eagles fan, forever living with the saying “coulda, shoulda, woulda” regarding the Kelly tenure.