The Chip Kelly Enigma
By Scott Daniels
It’s well known that Chip Kelly, the man who led Oregon to prominence over the last few years, loves speed, offense and creativity. He doesn’t care what the norm is, and his coaching tactics resemble a video game at times. And while he was incredibly successful at Oregon, the only real certainty that came with his methodology was a ton of points and an offense that seemed unstoppable.
Just how good was the Oregon defense under Kelly’s tutelage? Who cares? The team logged enough points to cover most over and unders on their own. Kelly didn’t care about defense; or at least he made it appear that way. It almost seemed as if Kelly operated under the guise that the best defense was a great offense. With three straight BCS appearances, it’s tough to criticize him.
But now Kelly faces a whole new challenge in the NFL. This is football’s elite. Many college coaches have made the switch and, while some have succeeded, many have failed. Just ask Steve Spurrier or Nick Saban. Those two were, and still are, living legends in the college game, but failed miserably in the NFL.
Is it tougher to coach in the NFL? Maybe. But that’s arguable. What’s undisputed is that coaches in the NFL have much less room for error when compared to their collegiate counterparts. NFL owners are an impatient breed desperately seeking results. Missing the playoffs is unacceptable; missing the playoffs two years in a row is treason. Second chances are wonderful things in life, but for an NFL coach, a second chance is usually the prequel before unemployment.
Will Kelly bring the Eagles back from embarrassment over the last two years? Who knows? Kelly’s name is almost synonymous with offensive descriptions like “fast-paced” and “up-tempo”, but who really knows what kind of schematics he plans on implementing with the Eagles? Speculation is swirling that Kelly plans on utilizing a 3-4 defense, but there’s no absolute truth to that. And while Kelly’s mad scientist-like offensive playbook put up big numbers at Oregon, no one knows what he plans on doing in the professional ranks.
The players have begun to voice their excitement about Kelly and his new offense, but will it work? Does he have the personnel to execute his game design? The only thing I know right now about Kelly’s offense is that I honestly know nothing about what he plans to unleash this season.
As strange as it sounds, I love it.
Andy Reid was a tremendous coach, but the man was so predictable. His game plans appeared to be scripted for at least the first 50 offensive plays. Panic mode would often set in early in the last few years, and the pass-happy Reid quickly abandoned the run. The result was not pretty, and Reid’s post-game press conferences were about as exhilarating as CSPAN. He literally took the responsibility for every single loss in his entire tenure as head coach of the Eagles. Sometimes, I’d watch the press conferences in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, he’d shift the blame to someone other than himself. Unfortunately, that never happened.
Eagles fans rejoice. A fresh new crop of young talent is on the horizon, and the mystery that is Chip Kelly is slowly unraveling. We may not know a whole lot now, but it will all be revealed once the season is under way. With a new leader and a fresh new game plan, the future looks bright for the Birds.