Since it was so positively received the first time, round table discussion format is back -- with the same crew. In light of the Chip Kelly hiring and resulting hoopla in Philadelphia, I came up with three questions for Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye; NJEagle on BGN) and Brandon Lee (@BrandonLeeSBN) to answer.
By the way, this didn't occur to me until I checked out Charles "Chip" Kelly's Wikipedia page and learned his given first name. Charles Kelly. Charlie Kelly! Come on, Chip is THE wildcard of the football world. This man is meant to be our head coach. Don't any of you no-fun jerks believe in fate?
1) Tell me everything about the moment word came about Kelly. Where were you, what were you doing? First thoughts?
Dan: I answered this one in my original Chip Kelly reaction piece. I went from Whisenhunt resignation to Chip elation in a matter of seconds. Here's what Mike and Brandon had to say.
Mike: Let me start off by saying that until this announcement came down, I had been non-stop monitoring Twitter over the past two weeks. My girlfriend has come to loathe social media because of this coaching search. I was at restaurants, bars and even casinos looking at my phone every other second. This search has literally stressed me out.
So anyway, I saw the announcement at noon, I believe. This was shortly after Tim McManus tweeted the BREAKING NEWS. At first, I honestly thought it was a joke. Then I saw it trickle down my Twitter page like whoever tweeted it would get a free car. So by then I knew what was up. I was at work, working on a major presentation and I had a tough time processing the information. I hated the idea of hiring Brian Billick or Brian Kelly, so I think that softened the blow for me. As many BGN members and Twitter followers know, I was very much against this hiring. When I found out, I automatically accepted it, because it could have been worse (Billick, Brian Kelly) and I support the Eagles no matter what.
I got plenty of calls from friends and chatted with fellow Eagles fans, which helped me kind of talk myself into the move. Don't get me wrong, I have always had a ton of respect for Chip, but I just didn't want him to coach my team. I think at times he has proven to be reckless instead of Brandon's perception of "he's just playing the odds." My feelings toward Chip have largely been similar to my views when seeing a guy with a cool sleeve tattoo (not Jason Babin's). The tattoo is awesome, but I wouldn't want it for myself (Editor's note: Why, are you afraid of being AWESOME?)
In case you were wondering, I still nailed my presentation on Thursday.
Brandon: It's funny you ask this because I actually documented how the whole Kelly hiring story happened as I saw it.
But for those who aren't avid link clickers, I'll address the experience again here.
It all started Wednesday morning when I checked Twitter and saw that Gus Bradley was leaving Philly without a deal, despite interviewing with Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman extensively the night before. I wasn't too worried because I knew Gus had an interview planned with the Jaguars prior to meeting with the Eagles, so I figured he was going to honor that no matter how his interview in Philadelphia went. I also wasn't too worried about missing out on him if the Jags ended up hiring him. I liked Gus -- and I still do, I think he can be a good HC -- but his hire wouldn't have *thrilled* me. It might have been a good hire, but it just wasn't anything that special to me.
In fact, I was more disappointed to hear that the Bears hired CFL coach Marc Trestman. I thought he might have been a mystery candidate for the Eagles, or at least a potential OC candidate if the Eagles did land Gus. I was only mildly disappointed though because I didn't think Trestman was all that thrilling of candidate either.
Regardless, I maintained close focus on Twitter hopeful that I'd see some Eagles news break. I started to get suspicious when I saw Eagles beat guy (and a good one, at that) Tim McManus tweet something along the lines of the Eagles were being very quiet. I thought back to when the last time I heard an Eagles beat guy say something like that, and it brought me to... the day of the Juan Castillo hire. Huh. I knew something had to be up. So while I was focusing on Twitter still, I randomly decided I'd turn on 97.5 The Fanatic. Not even for any specific reason, just a random decision. Shortly after tuning in, I heard Tony Bruno say they had some breaking news to report. Now, I'm a news fanatic (no pun intended). I'm very good about staying up to date when it comes to sports news. I glanced at Twitter and saw no signs of any news, so I grew doubtful about what Bruno was about to say.
Then Bruno said something that completely caught me off guard.
"According to our sources... the Eagles are back in the race for Chip Kelly."
"Wtf?!" I tweeted. I didn't buy it. Twitter wasn't reflecting that report at all, and we all knew Kelly had been ruled out a week or so before. But then I thought back to McManus, who happens to be affiliated with 97.5. I was intrigued. Did Tim know more than he was letting on when he tweeted that the Eagles were "too quiet"? Was he the "source" 97.5 was referencing? Could this be real? Well, not too long after, a Chris Mortenson (ESPN) tweet came across my Twitter feed and sealed the deal. "The Eagles have hired Chip Kelly."
My first reaction? Naturally, I took to Twitter to tweet some deep, thought provoking, eloquently phrased thoughts:
"SUCK IT HATERS!" "HAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Needless to say, I was beyond excited. The Eagles hired the only candidate that I would have genuinely been thrilled with. I marked Chip as the guy I wanted to replace Andy Reid back in November.
I'm sure others Eagles fan have great stories about when they heard the exciting news too. The experience is very similar to the Nnamdi signing in that it just caught everyone off guard. (Editor's note: Let's pray it goes better than that signing.)
2) How do you feel about the hire in general, and what it means both about and for the Eagles?
Dan: The word I keep coming back to is excited. I'm just so genuinely excited about the hire in general. I no longer see the Eagles as this sinking ship without hope. It's such a delightfully different outlook from the end of the Andy Reid era. Chip Kelly makes me happy to dream about what the Eagles could be. I believe a team takes on the personality of its head coach, and Chip Kelly is a brash, aggressive and assertive alpha male type. He's demanding and detail-oriented, he doesn't tolerate laziness and stupidity. The possibilities are endless, both in mentality and style. There's a lot of speed and talent on offense, with an ideal line for the pace at which Kelly prefers to play. I really think we're going to see a mutt offense of sorts, and I mean that in the most loving, flattering way possible. I expect to see concepts from Chip's offense at Oregon integrated with more conventional NFL tenets and formations (one that would allow Nick Foles to be its quarterback). But most of all, I'm excited because of the way Chip THINKS the game. As Howie Roseman mentioned, Chip's at the forefront of innovation in football, he's a trend-setter. That's what you want in a head coach, it's such a critically crucial quality.
Now, it's not ALL flowers, sunshine and rainbows for me (only mostly). I'm anxious to see how Kelly constructs his staff (resident crazy defensive line coach is already in place), specifically who will be chosen as the architect of a defense that's been in shambles recently. Word is that he wants a 3-4 scheme, and I think the Eagles could transition just fine. I'm not thrilled about the switch (mainly because I had high hopes for Brandon Graham in the 4-3), but I can live with it, and I can certainly come to love it depending on results. No doubt that Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton profile as guys who could thrive as five techniques with a capable nose tackle between them. DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks fit as dual inside linebackers. Brandon Graham was thought of as a 3-4 edge rusher going into the 2010 draft, but he's been playing exclusively in the 4-3 for three years and was just beginning to come into his own. I wonder if perhaps the switch would be beneficial for Trent Cole. Would it make Phillip Hunt a useful player? Daniel Jeremiah, an NFL.com analyst and former Eagles scout (who you should all follow @MoveTheSticks), said he thought Vinny Curry could play in the 3-4. Seemed at first as though Todd Grantham was a slam dunk for the defensive coordinator job, but I guess that's not the case with Giants linebackers coach Jim Herrmann interviewing. Notable moves so far: Duce Staley will coach running backs, and Ted Williams -- returning for a 19th year and third head coach -- will go back to coaching tight ends, which he did during the '95 and '96 seasons.
What does the Chip Kelly hire mean about the Eagles? Well, it looks like this is in fact a desired destination after all, despite what certain media schmucks speculated. For the Eagles, it means a chance to be led by the man who's thought of as the next generation of ingenuity and brilliance in football, which is a pretty major deal. It means Chip Kelly saw talent and potential in the front office and on this roster, one that he could mold into a team that fit his vision. He saw the chance to build another program (which is how he keeps referring to the Eagles), this one at the highest level, and in a place where winning a championship would matter more than anything. Ever.
Mike: As I mentioned before, I initially was not a fan of the hire. Compared to Gus Bradley and the excitement towards his possible hire, for me, it was a major let down. Since the hire, we have learned Gus would have been the guy, which has kind of made it rougher to accept the move. That being said, I have warmed up immensely to Chip as our Head Coach. I have read into his philosophies a bit more and have watched a ton of archived interviews. To me, a man's confidence and passion is important when he is a leader. Chip is nothing short of awe-inspiring when you consider the PDF circulating on Twitter (Editor's note: Brandon links this PDF in his portion). I agree with many of his philosophies and think he's an arrogant prick (something I absolutely adore for a guy on my team). Frankly, I am learning to love the hire.
This move says a lot about Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman. After 14 years of having Obi Wan Kenobi serve as the play-caller of the franchise, Jeff and Howie decided to go with Han Solo as his replacement (in case you were wondering, Kotite is Greedo and Rhodes is that giant Pit in Jedi). This is a major move that will likely define Howie's career and Lurie's tenure to an extent. This is as boom or bust as it comes. Chip will either move us into a Patriot-style legacy or set us back to the Stone Ages (Editor's note: Hey, Baldinger, slow your hyperbole roll). I think they would have been just fine on the Gus Bus, but I believe this move is a real ballsy gesture. A lot of people want to say that Lurie and Howie crushed Joe Banner, but honestly I don't think they even bat an eyelash when he is mentioned. For all the stupid and slanderous things written about Howie (here's looking at you, Jason La Confora, you sorry excuse for a journalist), he delivered to his employer in spades.
As far as what this means for the Philadelphia Eagles as a whole, they are done with mediocrity. They are either going to kick ass or die trying. I have always been a huge fan of the 3-4 and I think our defense is ready for the move. I believe Mychal Kendricks (I am aware he played outside in college) and DeMeco Ryans will thrive in the 3-4 as inside linebackers. I also think a lot of fans fail to realize how special Fletcher Cox is. I'm not trying to be Brian Baldinger but I think Cox could be the best five-technique (3-4 DE) in the league, and soon. This kid has excelled at 4-3 DT and there is no denying he should have gotten Pro Bowl consideration. I also believe Trent Cole, Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham can stand up and be successful (call me Mr. Optimistic).
Chip's offense intrigues me when you consider our talent on that side of the ball. I feel like Brent Celek needs to lose about 5-10 pounds, but I think he'll return to form under Kelly. DeSean, Jeremy, Jason, Damaris and Riley (he likes blocking WR) all fit what he wants to do. Shady and Bryce Brown will thrive significantly taking the ball at shotgun/spread formation. I also think Chip will scale back on the zone-read and make his offense more like the New England Patriots' this year. I think Nick Foles would do well in that system.
I will say I think this will be a disaster if we keep Mike Vick. Chip Kelly appreciates getting sacked, turnovers and lack of durability, less than anyone in the football universe. Being sacked is a major sin to him. That being said, I get the vibe that he's gone.
Brandon: My feelings on the hire, simply put are: Excited. Thrilled. I love it. The best hire they could have made.
How the move plays out remains to be seen. Let's face it: coaching hires, among a number of other things in sports, are a crapshoot. The truth is we have no idea how the move will play out. It may end up being anywhere from the worst hire in NFL history (shout out to number 1 hater Heath Evans) to the best hire in the NFL history. The chances are it'll fall inbetween those extremes, and we'll just have to see how it plays out before we can judge it.
What we can judge now is the philosophy behind the hire. The Eagles are taking a risk - a very big risk - on a guy who's never had any actual NFL experience. Historically, guys like that don't do well in the NFL. It's easy to understand, then, why people are worried about this move.
I'm sure the Eagles are aware of the risk. I admire that. Why not take a chance on greatness? I also like the fact that this was the Eagles top candidate and they got him. This isn't Plan D. It's Plan A. The Eagles could have hired a guy like Lovie Smith or Ken Whisenhunt and maybe it would have been a great hire. Those guys are experienced NFL coaches who have experienced some success at one level or another. The thing about those candidates is that they're "safe" options. They're the type of guys you can probably get any time you have a HC vacancy. Chip Kelly is not that kind of guy at all. He's a special candidate.
What makes him so special? It's a number of things. In our last round table discussion, we talked about the 5 qualities we wanted in our new HC. Let's see how Chip matches up to mine:
Leadership - Built a hugely successful program at Oregon.
Respect - Loved by his players.
Diplomacy - He handles himself well. You even saw it in the press conference.
Accountability - Check out the PDF I link to below.
Innovative - Everyone likes to talk about his scheme, but what makes Chip great is his ability to build a scheme that fits his players. He is aggressive when it comes to going for it on 4th down and 2 point conversions because that's what the data says to do.
Finally, I would also like to direct your attention to this MUST READ PDF (h/t BGN member AndersJ on the find) written by Chip Kelly himself. He explains his philosophies in more detail there.
What this hire tells me is that the Eagles believe offense is very important in the NFL, and that's a philosophy I certainly agree with. A good defense can go a long way too, but you just won't win a championship without a legitimate franchise QB.
This hire also indicates the franchise is willing to take chances and wants to be great. "Good" isn't good enough. They're actively doing their best to bring a championship to the city of Philadelphia. That's hard to complain about.
3) Thoughts on how Lurie and Roseman handled the interview process, especially in light of ridiculous, scathing media scrutiny?
Dan: I thought Lurie and Roseman (and Smolenski) handled the interview process with supreme foresight, patience and class. When you go through an extensive and exhaustive two-week interview process, talk to a dozen candidates and still get your number one choice, I'd say you hit a home run. A grand slam, actually. After 14 years of unfamiliarity with the process, Lurie -- with the aid of Roseman and Smolenski -- conducted the head coaching search masterfully. I mean, it's only the most important decision a franchise can make. Why not take your sweet time and evaluate every option out there? I got a little worried about spin control when they sent out the "we're right where we thought we'd be" memo, but it turns out that was the truth.
What I liked most, however, was how Lurie and Roseman handled the criticism that was leveled by irresponsible and unprofessional national journalists. Writers like Jason LaCanfora and Peter King had already made complete asses of themselves and were left to stew in their own bullshit. Lurie and Roseman (well, Roseman, mostly) took the high road, refusing to bask in validation and vindication. That was until Lurie threw some barbs Joe Banner's way, referring to him only as "Cleveland." Naturally, Banner had a denial statement out within minutes, almost like he had one ready. I'll never deny the satisfaction of getting a jab in, but I thought it would've even been better to just brush off the issue entirely and act as if it wasn't worth addressing. Because it wasn't. Fuck the haters, let 'em hate. As we love to say in sports: Scoreboard.
Mike: While I can admit I was getting manic over the speculation, with it all said and done, I believe the search committee did the right thing. I believe that they played the field and did their due diligence, and that is important. Being thorough isn't a sin. Howie and Jeff did what they thought was best and that is all we can ask for really. It would have been bad if they didn't land Gus or Chip, but luckily we're not facing that reality.
I am sure a lot of people loved or hated the Jason La Canfora take-down piece. I will say this, as someone who majored in journalism in college and has worked in the news business, I have literally zero respect for La Canfora. If you are going to write that type of piece, you better get a quote from the guy you're taking down (that's elementary in the non-gossip journalism world). I feel the same way about some of the stuff Sal Pal said as well about Andy. I understand Howie has a target on him, but I don't think a lot of this mass hysteria is really warranted. He only had full power over the draft this past season and that turned out well. The free agency spree of 2011 was, at the time, considered legendary for a young GM. I understand people want results immediately, but the truth is, overall our drafts haven't been all that great since 2005. We normally find 1-2 players and the rest of the guys are off the roster in two years.
I made this point to Dan on Twitter the other day: Jeff Lurie is not your average NFL owner (is there one?). He's not a football guy, he's not a captain of industry, and he didn't inherit the team from family. He inherited his riches and was a film producer, so for him to make this hire and Andy's hire speaks volumes of his ability to learn. With Ray Rhodes, he learned a lot about the type of coach he didn't want and then learned from Andy what he wanted to change about the coach of his dreams. I applaud both Howie and Jeff for their work during this search.
Brandon: The scathing media scrutiny was another dynamic that made this hire so great. It was just a huge "F*** YOU!" to all those calling the Eagles hiring process "aimless" and "meandering".
Let's recap: Jason LaCanfora essentially said no coach wanted to coach for Howie. Ridiculous. Peter King said that a top college candidate like Chip Kelly wouldn't turn down teams like the "Giants, Packers, and Steelers" because they are top organizations, and that Chip wouldn't go to a "downward trending organization" like the Eagles.
Well, in your face! You were wrong. Feel free to apologize to me and all the other Eagles fans and the Eagles organization when you get a chance.
But I digress. I am completely satisfied with the hiring process and not only because it resulted in the way I wanted it to. I found the process extensively thorough in an effective way. It would have been discouraging to see the Eagles only locked in on a few guys. What if they didn't get one of them? What if they weren't the best options out there? That would show the organization is desperate, which isn't encouraging.
I was listening to Reuben Frank talk about the Eagles coaching search on Tuesday morning on WIP. He brought up a really good point about the value of the interviews in this process. It's not just about finding the right guy to lead your team for the future, although that's a big part. It's also about getting the opinion of bright football minds on issues the team is facing. It's about seeing these candidates diagnose what is wrong with your organization, in their opinion, and how it can be fixed.
The process may have been longer than most fans would have liked, but I can't imagine a way where it could have been handled better. The Eagles got the guy they wanted all along and that's something to be happy about. How will the hire play out? Well, that's another question for another day.