Hindsight is always 20/20 and some of the best coaching confessions have come after a coach has found his way out of the league. Former Eagles Chip Kelly joined Adam Schefter on his podcast the Know them from Adam Show and discussed some of his experiences in the NFL with the players he coached.
The first player Kelly discussed was former Eagle LeSean McCoy. When Schefter asked Kelly what he remembered about that night, he had regrets, but not for the reasons you would anticipate.
“The story got out before we got a chance to communicate specifically with the guys that were being traded and that’s the most important thing, so I never got a chance to talk to LeSean before he found out he was getting traded and I’ve always said that’s on us and it wasn't handled the right way. It’s always bothered me, it wasn't handled the right way and it was unfair to LeSean.”
It’s interesting that Kelly’s remorse came from the way the news was handled as opposed to the actual player he traded. During Kelly’s tenure in Philadelphia he received the reputation of being emotionally distant from his staff and players, so the fact that he he was upset he didn't get the opportunity to deliver the news personally comes across a shock, but maybe he learned from his mistakes in Philadelphia. Schefter went on to ask Kelly about his time in San Francisco, and more specifically the impact Colin Kaepernick had on the locker room.
“Kaep was awesome. At the beginning of the year [Kaepernick] made a stance in terms of what he believed was right and we recognized and supported his ability to do that, but he never brought that into the locker room. We had a meeting the day after the Green Bay game that he did it in the preseason and he explained to all the players his thought process and the things that he was doing.... after that point we heard from the outside about what a distraction it is, except those people weren't in our locker room and it never was a distraction and Kaep never brought that and turned it into a circus.”
Again, Kelly was viewed as a coach that attempted to rid the Eagles of any distractions that he possibly could. Look no further than LeSean McCoy who was a minimal distraction and Desean Jackson, whose biggest issues since leaving Philadelphia have been staying healthy and an isolated robbery of his home. The fact that he kept a level head regarding the situation and eventually elevated Kaepernick to the starting role can be viewed as an improvement on his social and situational awareness.
Kaepernick wasn't the only mobile quarterback Kelly was asked about during his interview. Schefter asked the burning question of how how close the team was to actually drafting Mariota. “They [Tennessee] weren't moving off the pick,” Kelly said.
“That’s all speculation that’s out there. You hear stories that “we offered this, we offered that.” We didn't offer anything because they weren't taking offers for it. There’s a reason they didn't move off that pick... I would've loved to have coached him, but it was really, when you're involved in trades there has to be two people to trade, so if one team isn't interested in trading then it’s really not a conversation.”
I still don't buy that story, and I’ll go to my grave believing that Chip Kelly at least offered the farm and possibly Fletcher Cox. I do believe the snippet about the Titans’ reluctance to come off of the pick, but all has worked out so far. The Eagles were able to acquire their own young signal caller in Carson Wentz for a much cheaper price.
The final major point that Kelly hit on was his future in coaching.
“I’m excited about what I’m going to do with ESPN and then I’ll see what happens after that. You know I don't have any set plans that I’m going to do this for x amount of time and then do this. I think we all like to think we have control of our lives but really we don't... I’ll always keep an open mind and listen to whats out there.”
Kelly acknowledged he had a few offers in some capacity to stay in the NFL, but elected to go the TV route. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s back on the sideline coaching in 2018 whether that be at the college or pro level. Regardless of where he coaches next, Kelly will need to continue to adapt and evolve, something he failed to do as an NFL coach.