Quick PSA: Hey Bleeding Green Nation, my name is Brandon Lee (formerly SBN account "Philadelphia ") and I'm very excited to announce that I'm going to be a new full time Editor here at BGN! I'm sure some of you are already familiar with me from my time spent in the comments, FanPosts, and FanShots sections (especially the Fanshots!) here since 2010. I hope to offer more news, analysis, and commentary on everything Eagles here along with some potentially new exciting ideas for the BGN community. A big thank you goes out to JasonB and the BGN staff for this opportunity and also to the BGN community that's always been supportive of my work.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
There's no question that the Eagles hiring of Chip Kelly was a polarizing move. Some loved it. Others thought the Eagles were making a big mistake. It's a move that seemed to leave little grey area in between the extremes of approval. Boom or bust.
It's true that the Kelly hire is a huge risk. College coaches (especially those without NFL experience) historically don't tend to pan out as good head coaches in the NFL. Many point to the likes of Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban as examples of those failures. Some question if Kelly's likely re-designed schemes and plans can even work in the NFL.
Admirers of Kelly and optimists alike will dispute that Kelly isn't like those other college coaches, though. In this light, Chip is an innovative mastermind who is capable of cultivating a very successful - and ideally championship contending - football team. This thinking is reasonably justified. Chip comes off impressive in his interviews and the PDF in which he talks about his personal football philosophies. Everyone is already familiar with the vast success he's had at Oregon.
The polarization surrounding Kelly's hire has followed in the Eagles recent big moves such as the hiring of the new coaching staff and the restructuring of Michael Vick's contract.
Let's examine those decisions from the perspectives of the Kelly Trustee (KT) and the Chip Skeptic (CS).
KT: I see a good mixture of new coaches that includes guys with NFL experience and others who are fresh faces. OC Pat Shurmur and DC Bill Davis both have experience in the NFL. Shurmur will help develop the QBs and Davis will possibly run the 4-3 under scheme that Chip reportedly will run on defense. ST coach Dave Fipp was part of some good ST units down with the Miami Dolphins. DL coach Jerry Azzinaro is familiar with Chip and brings MORE VIOLENCE! to the team. Alabama OL coach Jeff Stoutland was a great hire. Shaun Huls is the sports science coordinator and I don't even know what that is but it sounds cool as heck. Duce Staley and Ted Williams are returning faces which is good for continuity's sake. A lot of these guys have been either head coaches or coordinators at different levels. That will definitely help when it comes to drawing up game plans.
CS: Pat Shurmur? He stunk with the Browns. He hasn't exactly cultivated a top QB either. Bill Davis? He stunk too! Look at his rankings - he's never had a good defense. The Eagles should have hired someone else. And why did the Eagles hire some assistants before they hired Davis? Didn't the Eagles learn their lesson from hiring Jim Washburn before Juan Castillo? A lot of these coaches aren't even proven winners.
My Verdict: I wasn't thrilled with all of these hirings but that doesn't make them bad choices. The way I see it, Kelly would have been heavily criticized had he not hired coordinators with NFL experience. Shurmur and Davis not be the "sexy" choices, but that doesn't mean they'll be bad ones. Many have pointed out that big names hires such as the Washburn, Mudd, and Bowles ones were supposed to be slam dunks and they didn't turn out to be that way after all. The new staff is an intriguing blend of guys and we can only wait and see how they turn out, but I like Chip's thought process here. Overall, I trust his decisions.
KT: First, the QB market was awful. Vick struggled because of a horrible offensive line and bad play-calling. He can succeed in Kelly's offense because Kelly likes a mobile QB. If anyone can "fix" Vick or get him to play better, it's Chip Kelly. With the restructure, Vick is cheaper and can be kept as a back up or traded or cut.
CS: ...no!!!! Why are they bringing Vick back? He's a turnover machine. He takes too many sacks. He doesn't get the ball out fast enough. He's not as fast as he used to be. He called out his teammates at the end of the year. Kelly is just another coach to fall in love with Vick's game for no good reason. The Eagles should be giving the starting job to Nick Foles.
My Verdict: While I wasn't thrilled about the Vick restructure either, the move does make sense. The QB market truly is awful. There's no obvious option in the draft or free agency. Vick isn't being brought back here to be the guaranteed starter. Coach Kelly said Foles and Vick will be splitting 1st-team reps right away. Vick's here to earn his job and is guaranteed little. It's unlikely Kelly's QB of the future is on the roster right now anyway. Maybe he'll get that guy in next year's (more promising?) draft.
Chip has my trust. Maybe it's because I'm a homer. Maybe it's because I'm believing what I want to believe instead of what I should believe. Or maybe it's just because I was a big advocate of the decision to hire him. Either way, I think these big decisions so far have revealed Chip is simply making the most of an unideal situation, which is really all one can ask for.
As NFL free agency and the draft approach, I find myself satisfied knowing I have reason to trust the Eagles new HC.
But what about you?