The first few names being thrown around for DC are college guys and that has a few of you worried. Shouldn’t Chip have NFL guys or veteran coaches? That would certainly make us all more comfortable, but there is no right answer to building a staff.
Ray Rhodes was hired in 1995. He had a defensive background. He hired a veteran DC in Emmitt Thomas. His OC was boy wonder Jon Gruden. Jon was 32 and had never been a full time OC at any level. His playcalling experience was minimal, to put it mildly. Was Ray nuts to hire a veteran on his side of things and go with a kid on the other? As it turned out, that was genius. Gruden turned out to be the great coach that Ray thought. Ray also had a lot of college guys on his staff. Mike Trgovac, Danny Smith, Ted Williams, and Bill Callahan had zero NFL experience. All turned out to be great hires.
When Jimmy Johnson got hired by Dallas he brought his defensive staff from Miami with him. Butch Davis, Dave Wannstedt, and Dave Campo all went on to be head coaches in the NFL, despite having no pro experience when they hit Dallas.
The Saints had the worst defense in the NFL this year with a veteran staff that included Steve Spagnuolo, Ken Flajole, Joe Vitt, and Bill Johnson. Those guys could write volumes on the NFL, but didn’t get the job done. Awful, awful defense.
The key here, as with hiring the head coach, is to hire the right guy and not just the big name. You and I will sleep easier with the name we know, but as we learned with the hiring of Bobby April, that means nothing. April was considered the best STs coach in the NFL when the Eagles got him. For every thing that went right, there were two that went wrong. I wouldn’t call his STs disastrous, but they had some awful moments and looked incompetent all too often.
I think one reason young guys/college guys turn out to be such good assistants is that they are hungry. They want to get the job done. Being an assistant coach is hard. Tons of work, little reward. They’re well paid compared to me and you, but not to players and head coaches.
Clearly veteran assistants work hard as well, but the young guys just seem to have that extra bit of pep in their step. Maybe they relate to players better. Maybe they are better listeners, to players and fellow coaches. Whatever the reason, there is real value in having them around.
I would love for Chip Kelly to hire a couple of veteran assistants so that he’s got somebody to lean on when it is needed. Let’s be honest. Oregon played a couple of non-conference cupcakes. They played a couple of conference softies. Then they had 5 games against solid teams and a couple against top competition. The NFL is so different. There are no games against Arkansas State or Tennessee Tech. Kelly has to be on his A-game every week. Luckily he’s wired that way, but I still don’t think he’s fully prepared for what NFL life is going to be like. Having a veteran coach or two on the staff would just be nice.
The one good thing is that Chip talks to other coaches. He’s friends with Tony Dungy. He spoke to Dick Vermeil before taking the Eagles job. If Chip chooses to mainly have a younger staff, he at least has an outside support system to go to when he’s got an issue he’s not sure how to handle.
We’ll judge Kelly’s staff when we see who he’s hired and how the group looks. Right now we just know a few names and don’t know any titles.
- Sources tell us Oregon assistant director of operations / recruiting Josh Gibson will follow Chip Kelly to Philadelphia.
- Sources tell us Oregon associate athletic director for James Harris will join Chip Kelly’s staff with the Eagles.
- Sources tell us Oregon offensive line grad assistant Greg Austin, defensive intern Todd Lyght and Matt Harper (special teams intern) will all follow Chip Kelly to Philadelphia.
These guys will probably have peripheral roles…quality control – OFF, quality control – DEF, assistant STs coach, assistant DBs coach, and things like that. They won’t be the primary guys, but they’ll help them out.
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Things are getting interesting in the Joe Banner / Eagles war. Jeff Lurie let out a bombshell when he said that the Howie criticism was coming from Cleveland. Clearly he meant Joe Banner. Reuben Frank has the story and it’s must read material.
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The Helmet2Helmet Show is back! Jimmy Bama got over his drinking problem and we recorded a couple of shows last night.
Both are on the Chip Kelly hire. We’ll see about recording another show in the next couple of days. We’re waiting for Chip to hire some staff members.