Each week Dave and Patrick discuss the week that was and/or is. It's Two Guys Internetting Football!
Patrick: I feel like we've danced around the topic a fair amount in recent days and weeks, so let's devote some time to the topic on everyone's minds: should the Eagles fire Chip Kelly?
Obviously, the only real answer is "it depends". There is still, somehow, still a month left to the regular season, and in this division anything can still happen - even if all indications are that the "anything" won't be positive for the Eagles. But as it stands now, Chip is probably on the hot seat.
The interesting thing to me is that he's on the hot seat, but it's not necessarily because of his coaching. Since wresting away GM powers from Howie Roseman what feels like ten years ago, he's made a series of moves that have put the team where it is today. The DeMarco Murray signing was and remains a hot topic for debate, and of course then there's the Sam Bradford trade. Neither move has been stellar, and those aren't the only moves we saw. Since this is BGN we don't need to go into detail.
For me, the answer to this question is entirely in Chip's hands. There are whispers that he's losing the locker room, which I can certainly believe. But I think that has more to do with the losing than anything. No one wants to be told when to go to bed when the team's getting clowned by bad teams in back-to-back weeks.
But if the season ends with one or two more wins and the team looks as listless as it has recently? I don't think there's any way to recover from that. And bringing Kelly back if he has lost the locker room is basically the equivalent of punting on the 2016 season. What say you?
Dave: Short answer: you're right, "it depends." Long answer:
When you're talking about whether or not to fire a coach at this point in the season, the coach usually doesn't make it. Sometimes they do, Tom Coughlin has twice won a Super Bowl
and extended his career four years after being on the hot seat, and the Panthers
nearly fired Ron Rivera in-season a few years ago. But those are the exceptions, almost always if there is doubt then there is no doubt--he shouldn't return.
If the coach has lost the locker room, he's got to go. It's cliche, but you really can't fire all the players. And even if the coach has lost the locker room and you could fire all the players, that coach doesn't deserve to stay anyways. You don't lose the confidence of your players through good coaching and decision making.
However, like you said, when a team is on a losing streak is when stuff like "lost the locker room" comes up. You don't hear about coaches losing the confidence of their players on 13 win teams. You don't see a team blow someone out and then have players publicly going against the grain.
But like I said last week
, it doesn't take much to change the big picture narrative. They're going to lose to the Patriots
, but let's just say for the sake of argument that they beat the Bills
. Suddenly the narrative changes, because a team that goes 3-2 hasn't quit. Five weeks ago the Texans
got blown out by the Dolphins
and people who cover Houston were saying that the players on the Texans looked like they had flat out given up. Bill O'Brien looked like he might be headed back to college and his benching and re-benching and then re-re-benching of Brian Hoyer
had him looking like a fool. Then they won four in a row and are currently the 6 seed in the AFC, with a real chance to win the division. And they didn't just beat up bad teams, they gave the Bengals
their first loss of the season and they beat a respectable Jets
team. They were seemingly a sinking ship at 2-5, now no one is talking about upheaving the team. Funny how things can change.
So if I squint and tilt my head just right, I can see a similar scenario. They play the Pats tough, they eek out a win against the Bills, stay close against the Cards then finish out with wins against the lousy Giants and lousy Redskins. That's enough to cool Kelly's seat.
But if they lose out and go 4-12, he deserves to go. Only first-year coaches of bad teams survive seven game losing streaks. At 5-11 the Eagles will have gone 2-8 in the last 10. It would be tough for me to say he deserves a second year, because either one of those wins was against the lousy Giants or lousy Redskins, or it was against a better team and then he couldn't follow it up with a win against a bad team.
I agree that Kelly is, or should be on (we don't know what Jeffrey Lurie is thinking) the proverbial hot seat. However I think he is deservedly on it for both his personnel and his coaching moves, which are fairly inseparable. And--four months ago I wouldn't believe I'm saying this--I'm not seeing a good reason that Chip Kelly should stay.
The 2011 Eagles were 4-8 and Andy Reid's seat got red hot. Then they won four straight against bad teams and he got to keep it, but lost some power to Howie Roseman, and then as we all know the 2012 team sucked. Finishing 6-10 or even 7-9 would draw a lot of parallels to that, did they truly turn a corner or did they just happen to not lose against bad teams and the status quo just delays the inevitable?
So let's just say that happens, they play hard, they play tough, they go 6-10. Do you trust this front office/coaching combination that is really one to turn it around next year?
Patrick: I think you would have to, right? You didn't just hand Chip the keys to dad's car just to revoke them the second he gets a speeding ticket (or maybe a ticket for driving too slowly?) Actually, that analogy makes me kind of want to change my mind - so scrap that. I don't think they'll take the power away from in that case. The only scenario I could see with the power to change that would be if there's a GM candidate out there that Lurie just has to have. But that person probably wouldn't want to come here with Chip as the head coach. Who knows, maybe they convince Gamble to come back and things even out in the front office.
But all of that is pure speculation. If that does indeed happen, I would guess Chip keeps his job and we hear whispers that Marynowitz receives additional power. But if that does happen, my concerns from earlier are still there - and it may actually end up being worse for morale. Players aren't stupid. If they beat the New York teams and Washington, I don't think they're texting each other this spring saying, "man we sure did finish off strong!" I think they're saying, "we beat up on some bad teams and so now none of our concerns will be heard."
I think it's going to be incredibly, incredibly important for ownership to really listen to what the players are saying at the conclusion of the season. Listen to your trusted vets. Let them tell you what they see, and act on what they say, good and bad. Any leader of people should do that, but it's especially important this season. You cannot go into 2016 with the leaders on the team harboring serious concerns about the coach. And yes, all coaches will always have doubters in the locker room. But Chip's not just any coach, and we've seen and heard enough evidence at this point to know that not everyone knows what they're getting into when they come to Chip Kelly's Philadelphia.
Okay, crystal ball time - how do you think this whole thing plays out?
Dave: Jeffrey Lurie has given his previous coaches another year after a horrendous one, I think he does the same with Kelly. I think he gives Kelly a chance to learn from his GM mistakes, a chance to show that 2015 is more 2005 than 2011. And I would hope that he highly encourages Kelly to bring in someone from the outside as another voice in the front office. That can't be Gamble, you can't bring him back, but someone like that. Someone that is his hire so there's no animosity or friction. I can also see Marynowitz taking more control as well, maybe full GM title, which is as close to admitting he got it wrong as Kelly will give. And then Howie Roseman has got to go. There's no reason to keep him around and wasn't one in the first place after the changes that were made.
What does your crystal ball see?
Patrick: If I had to guess, I'd say it doesn't end well. For the past few weeks I've been of the mind that the Eagles are worse than a lot of people think they are. And if this team is all that stands between the Giants and the playoffs? I don't see them winning two more games. So I think Chip will keep his job but lose his GM power. How he handles that is up to him - if he bristles at that, he's gone. Otherwise, either Marynowitz becomes full-time GM or they bring in someone else. But there's no way Chip has all this power next year.
If Chip doesn't like it then see ya. There is precedent for dropping his GM duties. When Mike Holmgren went to the Seahawks
, he was also GM. After two losing seasons and one playoff appearance in four years, he was stripped of his GM title. The Seahawks immediately then went to the playoffs five years in a row including a Super Bowl appearance. So hey there's something to look forward to.