Dan Graziano covers the NFC East for ESPN. Mike Freeman covers the NFL for CBS Sports. Both guys have some odd dislike for Chip Kelly.
I have said this before, but let’s be clear again. I fully acknowledge that Chip might fail. This isn’t just lip service. I genuinely understand that he might get to the NFL and find that his ideas don’t work here.
I don’t expect that to be the case, but you have to accept that it is possible.
For some reason, it bugs me when writers seem so eager to accept the notion that Kelly will fail. They seem to fall into the Steve Spurrier trap. Shout it from the mountain tops…CHIP KELLY ISN’T STEVE FRICKIN’ SPURRIER!!!
As I’ve documented before, Spurrier loaded up his staff with Florida guys and cronies.
I think one of Steve Spurrier’s big mistakes was assuming that what worked so well for him in college would work for sure in the NFL. Confidence is good, hubris is bad. Look back at the offensive staff Spurrier put together for his 2002 team:
HC/OC/QB – Steve Spurrier (Florida grad)
OL/Asst OC – Kim Helton (Florida grad, experience as NFL OL coach)
RB – Hue Jackson (first NFL job)
WR – Steve Spurrier Jr (need I say more)
TE – Lawson Holland (from Florida staff)
Asst QB – Noah Brindise (Florida QB & from UF staff)
Asst OL – John Hunt (from Florida staff)
Kelly kept 2 assistants from Reid. He hired Pat Shurmur, a man he’d never met, to help him run the offense. Kelly then hired a variety of college and pro guys to fill out the offensive staff. The 2 offensive coaching staffs could not be more different. Spurrier wanted sycophants. He wanted guys that would be comfortable around. Kelly wanted to hire the best coaches. Kelly is cognizant of the fact he’s new to the NFL and must adapt to the league.
Chip Kelly has his eyes wide open. He’s talked to NFL teams for years. He knows what he is getting into. Kelly is doing everything in his power to be ready for the NFL.
Freeman wrote a Training Camp preview that is just awful. Really and truly awful..
First…he didn’t mention Nick Foles once in the preview. That alone tells you the piece is worthless. Like Foles or not, he’s a huge factor in what happens this summer.
Now for the stuff he does mention.
Chip Kelly is the coach now and he promises a more up-tempo style of offense. But many a college coach has promised to transform the NFL with their college-y ideas and many have failed. See: Spurrier, Steve, among others.
Ugh. Already covered.
What Kelly will have to do is patch an offensive line that was constantly injured last season.
Huh? Jason Peters is healthy. Same for Todd Herremans. Jason Kelce is on the mend. The team added Lane Johnson.
The quarterback situation is a mess. It’s basically an open competition that Mike Vick will likely win but even if he does, Vick doesn’t stay healthy. Fourth-round pick Matt Barkley will see playing time, maybe a significant amount.
Another media guy who just knows Vick will win. And now Barkley is going to play for sure. Ugh.
The most interesting thing to watch will be Kelly. He wants to run 80 to 100 plays a game, which will never consistently happen. For the past 30 years, the average number of offensive NFL plays has been in the 60s. The Patriots last season once ran 92. That was considered Haley’s comet territory. To run that many plays weekly is impossible and would lead to Kelly’s offense being physically battered. There wouldn’t be enough players to finish a season.
Kelly didn’t average 80 snaps a game at Oregon. He didn’t lead the NCAA or even the Pac-12 in plays per game. Kelly does want extra snaps and will run no-huddle, but his ideas are based in logic not some insane numbers. Brent from Eagles Rewind wrote a post about whether more snaps even led to more injuries and he couldn’t find a direct correlation. You would think Freeman would have considered that question instead of jumping to a conclusion, but why bother. On to the next point.
For all of its alleged fast pace and openness, Kelly will utilize two (and sometimes three) tight ends to shore up a shaky offensive line. It’s yet another attempt by a team to duplicate the Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez tight end tandem that was the best in football until injuries and homicide charges destroyed it.
Freeman sounds flat out dumb here. The extra TEs are here to help the OL. No wait…they’re here to copy the Pats offense, which means they won’t be helping the OL. The Eagles are copying the Patriots use of TEs. There is no secret about that. But it has nothing to do with the OL. TEs can be mismatch players. That’s why Belichick loves them. Kelly too.
This is for certain: Around the league, few coaches think Kelly will succeed. Coaches are a highly cynical bunch. They think the daily rigors of the sport will beat Kelly’s schemes into oblivion and he’ll be chased back to college. It will be up to Kelly to prove them wrong.
So Freeman talked to all 32 coaches? How about 20? 10? There is no way he got on the horn to research this. Freeman is making a lazy statement based on something he heard from a coach or two and it happens to mesh with his own beliefs.
If you want to read more of Freeman’s thoughts on “Chip Spurrier”, go here. Ugh.
Freeman can be a good writer. He knows teams out west pretty well. Most of his Eagles coverage ranges from bad to awful. This TC preview would be bad work by a young blogger, let alone a national football writer.
* * * * *
He has his doubts. I’m fine with that. It isn’t hard to argue that the Eagles have some holes. This one comment bugged me.
But it’s the unknowns that hold you back here, right? We assume Kelly’s impact will be positive, but it might not be. Even if it is in the long run, it could take some time for the players to learn and/or buy into his schemes and ideas. And looming over all of that is an incredibly shaky quarterback situation that could sink the whole thing even if everything else goes right.
Kelly could possibly hinder the 2013 Eagles? Wow. I don’t get that. Maybe I’m too much of a Kelly fan and I’m being unreasonable, but Kelly having a “negative impact” on the team just seems crazy to me.
The Eagles were 4-12 last year. This team had to have a change. We were at rock bottom (or as close as I hope to being there). If the Eagles had gone 9-7 I might get Graziano’s comment. At that point, Kelly would be tasked with getting the team over the hump right away. Instead, Kelly is just trying to get the team pointed in the right direction.
Kelly has brought tremendous enthusiasm and excitement to the Eagles. That won’t last long term, but it is palpable right now. It will help the 2013 team. Unless Kelly goes bonkers and named Evan Mathis the starting QB and Jimmy Kempski the new LG, I don’t think he’s going to hinder the Eagles.
I do get Graziano’s point that Kelly is new to the NFL and will be learning, but he has been a head coach for 5 years. Most coaches struggle with the logistical side of things when they are in charge for the first time. Kelly knows that side. He’s just got the NFL adjustment. That would be more of an issue if he wasn’t such a student of the game. When Kelly met with the Pats, he wasn’t just there giving them info. Kelly was learning about pro football and how they did things.
In order for this comment to have more meaning, you must understand that Graziano has previously written about “Kelly the cheater” and gone on record as saying that of the current NFC East coaches, he thinks Kelly will be gone the first. Graziano thinks Kelly will last in Philly for 3 years or less. All I can say is … ugh.
* * * * *
The Supplemental Draft came and went. No one was picked. I don’t get the feeling the Eagles will sign any of them as free agents. These players just aren’t that good.