We now know the complete coaching staff that Chip Kelly put together. There is a tepid reaction from some fans, but I really like the group. DC Bill Davis is the one guy we’re all nervous about, but aside from him I’m very high on the staff.
I think some fans are disappointed due to the fact they don’t know the names and these coaches aren’t coming from recent Super Bowl winners or elite NFL programs. The Eagles just got done with an all-star staff and it resulted in 8-8 and 4-12 seasons. Big names mean nothing. You must find the right fit, schematically, but also in terms of personality.
Kelly hired a staff that is very mixed in terms of backgrounds, experience, and age. None of these coaches comes in here as a prima donna. Jim Washburn was the best DL coach in the NFL. Bobby April was the best STs coach. Howard Mudd was the best OL coach. Those guys had huge reputations. It affected how they interacted with players and others on the staff. I don’t think the current group will have such issues.
Chip Kelly is an offensive guru, but he’s not an NFL guy. He wisely hired Pat Shurmur, Bill Lazor, Bob Bicknell, Duce Staley, and Ted Williams to help him adjust to pro football. Those guys have a ton of NFL experience. They can help Kelly take his ideas and make them work at the NFL level.
Hiring OL coach Jeff Stoutland came as a real surprise. He did a phenomenal job at Alabama, developing the nation’s best OL this year. The most interesting tie-in with Stoutland is that he was the OC at Cornell in the early 90’s when their QB was a kid named Bill Lazor. Getting a coach like Stoutland is a real coup. He was given Grade-A talent at Alabama and delivered a great O-line. Some may question how he’ll do with Chip Kelly’s system. Chris Brown, who runs SmartFootball.com, said on Twitter a while back that “Chip Kelly’s top run plays — inside zone, outside zone & power (guard pull) — are same Trent Richardson ran at Alabama.” I would say that Stoutland and Kelly will be an excellent match in terms of style and system.
We’ve discussed Bill Davis quite a bit for the last several days. We’ll give that a rest for now and focus on the others.
One thing I like about the staff is that Jerry Azzinaro (DL), Rick Minter (ILBs), Bill McGovern (OLBs), and John Lovett (DBs) all have experience as defensive coordinators. Those guys are experts at their positions, but also understand how to think in terms of the big picture. Minter was the head coach at the University of Cincinnati for a while. His DC was Rex Ryan and they ran the 46 Defense. It always comes back to Buddy and the 46 for me.
Dave Fipp will run the STs. Here’s what I like about him. Fipp was the Asst STs coach in Miami the last 2 years. The Dallas Morning News had them rated 2nd (2011) and 4th (2012) in STs rankings. Fipp has been part of a unit that thrived under the current rules. Bobby April struggled with KO coverage and returns under the new rules.
Josh Hingst is the new Strength & Conditioning coach. I hated to lose Barry Rubin, but Chip wanted his guy and Rubin went to KC with Andy Reid. I don’t have an opinion on Hingst.
Shaun Huls is the Sports Science Coordinator. That’s a new role here. It sounds like Huls will work with the players on new methods to improve their agility and explosiveness. I think trying this kind of training is wise. I know some players have done it to get ready for the Combine. You develop workouts and exercises that help a player in ways other than just building muscle or losing weight. I don’t know that this will make much of a difference, but it sure can’t hurt.
Pat Shurmur (offensive coordinator)
Bill Davis (defensive coordinator)
Dave Fipp (special teams coordinator)
Bill Lazor (quarterbacks)
Bob Bicknell (wide receivers)
Duce Staley (running backs)
Ted Williams (tight ends)
Justin Peelle (assistant tight ends)
Jeff Stoutland (offensive line)
Greg Austin (assistant offensive line)
Press Taylor (offensive quality control)
Jerry Azzinaro (defensive line/assistant head coach)
Erik Chinander (assistant defensive line)
Bill McGovern (outside linebackers)
Rick Minter (inside linebackers)
John Lovett (defensive backs)
Mike Dawson (defensive quality control)
Todd Lyght (assistant defensive backs)
Josh Hingst (strength and conditioning)
Shaun Huls (sports science coordinator)
Matt Harper (assistant special teams)
Do I have any major concerns with the staff? Not really. Kelly’s transition to the NFL and Davis ability to be a good DC are the two biggest mysteries, but they aren’t really tied in to the other coaches.
I do think people need to remember that when a staff is new it is going to seem odd. We know Jim Johnson, Steve Spagnuolo, Brad Childress, Ron Rivera, and all those guys now, but back in 1999 they were also a mystery. Andy Reid did a great job of selling the coaching staff. I knew little about JJ back then, but as Reid talked about his zone blitzing…he sold me. And Jim turned out to be a great coach for us.
Ray Rhodes had the boy wonder OC Jon Gruden. Can you imagine trying to get away with a 32-yr old OC in Philly today? There would be huge pressure on the team with a move like that. Turned out great. Mike Trgovac, Bill Callahan, and Ted Williams were unknowns that turned out to be great hires by Rhodes. Juan Castillo and John Harbaugh were added later and were also great hires.
One aspect of Kelly’s coaching staff that I really like is that these guys will come in hungry and wanting to show what they can do. I think that benefited both Rhodes and Reid with the hires they made initially. You want coaches that are smart, but humble. Guys that work hard and can teach. Coaches must work well together. That obviously wasn’t happening the last couple of years, especially on defense.
Plenty of people have asked about the wisdom of putting together the defensive staff without having the DC in place. When a head coach is new, he puts together the coaching staff. Those are his guys. As coaches leave, he’ll consult with the coordinators on replacements. The initial staff isn’t always a group of guys that know each other. Ron Rivera and Leslie Frazier were going to be on Andy’s staff whether the DC was Marvin Lewis or Jim Johnson. This really isn’t a big deal at all.
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Jimmy & I just recorded a new podcast, where we talked about Bill Davis and the new coaches. And The Price is Right.