Oh, Those Sneaky Eagles: Thoughts on the Chip Kelly Hiring

Stephen Dunn

As Jeffrey Lurie kept media and fans alike off the scent by hosting Gus Bradley at his Wynnewood mansion, a persistent Howie Roseman would not be denied. He worked behind the scenes to lure the prize of this year's coaching class, Chip Kelly, to Philadelphia to begin the post-Andy Reid era.

"Hey, Kobe, how's my ass taste?" Shaquille O'Neal uttered that immortal phrase, which has become a "how do you like them apples?" for the new generation. Now replace "Kobe" with "Jason LaCanfora," and I imagine you have a general idea what Howie Roseman would say to a particularly vindictive and petulant media member -- if, you know, he thought that clown was worth his attention. Face it, Jason, Howie's your daddy (here's my tweet to LaCanfora after the news broke).

At around 9 on Wednesday morning, I started talking myself into Ken Whisenhunt. I still held out hope that the Gus Bradley window hadn't closed when he left town for Jacksonville at 7:30, but his departure without a contract offer meant I had to begin moving on. For the next few hours, I continuously voiced my support for Howie Roseman and felt he had a right to create his own legacy independent of Joe Banner and Andy Reid. All the while, with rumors of Whisenhunt's strong candidacy gaining momentum, I internally rationalized to the point that I felt at peace with what I anticipated was his inevitable hiring. Tim McManus tweeted out a portending statement at 11:11, commenting that it was very quiet around the Eagles. I could sense his angle, so I bit, surmising the silence was a "calm before the storm...." At 11:25, I tweeted I was "cool" with Whisenhunt getting the job, even defended his failures in Arizona over the past three seasons, pontificating -- like an asshole -- that people lacked "context and perspective." At 11:48 AM, I sent out this tweet: "You guys, Ken Whisenhunt is going to be the next HC of the Philadelphia Eagles. Call it a gut feeling." Twelve minutes later, at noon sharp, I stated that if Whisenhunt was the choice, I didn't feel "doom & gloom" about it. Did I actually believe myself? I don't know. But I thought I did. I wanted to. A few -- literally, a few -- minutes later, I saw the first flurry of Twitter accounts citing Chris Mortensen's report on SportsCenter that Chip Kelly had accepted the Eagles head coach position. My eyes opened wide and bulged out of their sockets. My gamut of emotions short-circuited and then melted. I was not under the influence of any drugs. I was not hallucinating. Holy shit, the Eagles had done it again! My brain was on the fritz, but my fingers couldn't resist. At 12:04 PM, I tweeted five simple yet encapsulating words:

WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED

I didn't even bother to add the question mark. Whoa. After douche extraordinaire LaCanfora's bitter, amateur and, quite frankly, disgusting hatchet job on Howie Roseman, we were led to believe no one reputable wanted to coach the Eagles. Working for Roseman, so "drunk with power," was akin to contracting leprosy. Back at the NovaCare Complex, those Eagles executives in the know, rightfully unconcerned with all the media rhetoric floating around, must have been snickering and scoffing. They were cooking up a bombshell, ready to respond to the doubters with something far stronger than the words of assurance they bizarrely felt the need to concoct after Brian Kelly announced he was staying at Notre Dame. Instead, a once-thought dead proposition had been resurrected and was now marinating. Soon, the Eagles would be ready to respond with something of substance -- the ultimate trump card of all, action.

Say what you want about the Eagles (there are plenty of both level-headed and overly cynical fans alike out there eager to share their opinions), but you cannot deny they have succeeded in keeping things interesting. And, really, for a franchise and fan base that was staring into a deep abyss of irrelevance, making this kind of splash means the Eagles will still matter. Like, really matter. The landscape of the NFL is ever-changing, and it's changing now. The spread and read option staples are taking hold. Like the West Coast Offense 30 years ago, it began as widely-knocked "gimmick" (lazy speak for "I don't understand it so I'm just going to say it won't work in the NFL"). In no time, it had taken the league by storm and initiated a sea change on offense that endures to this very day. The same thing is happening again. If you want to deny it, that's your prerogative. Just know you're in the process of getting left behind. It might not happen immediately, given the current personnel, but at some point over the next few years, I imagine Chip Kelly will try to transition the Eagles offense to a model that emulates what he created at Oregon. That said, I think at its zenith, we'll see a blend of Chip's offense at Oregon with more traditional NFL offensive principles. For 2013, he'll likely have to adapt his offensive philosophy to fit the talent on the roster, but significant change won't be far behind -- especially if the Eagles flop. Also consider that if Chip so fancies, the possible 2014 and 2015 draft classes for quarterbacks will be littered with candidates to run the type of offense he directed at Oregon, the type of offense revolutionizing the NFL. I know patience isn't high on the list of virtues for Eagles fans, but it will be required here.

I don't know what the future holds. I don't know if the hiring of Chip Kelly will bear the desired results. What I do know is that, at the very least, the Eagles won't be boring going forward. Andy Reid's Eagles had become predictable and stale, stagnation had given way to marked regression. We all knew how the season would end before it even started. Reid's Eagles might make the playoffs, but when they went up against an opponent with similar or equal talent, Andy would get outcoached. It was like clockwork, it put a definite ceiling on the potential of his teams. With the hiring of Chip Kelly, for the first time in years, we don't know how the season will end before it even starts. For the first time in years, I'm excited about the Eagles again. And that counts for something. Up next: Bringing back the KELLY green jerseys. We can dream, right?

Still to come: Round table discussion about Chip Kelly and what will happen with the Eagles going forward.

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