Today is the one year anniversary of Chip Kelly becoming the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. And what a glorious year it has been. Let’s review what happened.
* Chip led the Eagles to a 10-6 record and the NFC East title.
* He turned Shady McCoy into the best RB in the NFL.
* He turned Nick Foles into the best QB in the NFL.
* He turned Bill Davis into a solid Defensive Coordinator.
* He taught Nate Allen how to tackle.
* He also healed lepers, fed 5000 people with just a few fish sandwiches and turned water into wine.
I think you can make a strong argument that Chip Kelly is the greatest human being to ever walk the planet (except for Megan Fox and the inventor of Funyuns of course). Chip turned a small rural town like Philly into a football hotbed and thriving metropolis. The only reason Chip hasn’t cured cancer yet is that he’s busy preparing for free agency.
Okay, maybe I’m going a tad overboard with the Chippah hype. Maybe.
Chip Kelly was my number one coaching target last year. Here is what I wrote at the time.
Kelly is a dynamic leader. He has elevated Oregon from a good program to a great program. He is an X’s and O’s guru, but also someone that understands how to run a program and get people to accomplish special things. I think he’s got the kind of forceful personality that the Eagles could use after the final years of the Reid era.
I think too many people are caught up in his offensive scheme and how that would work. Chip is incredibly smart and would find a way to make the Eagles offense work…not his offense. He is incredibly driven and already has the NFL work ethic. There is risk involved with this hire because he has no NFL experience, but that is less important now than in the past. Previously, the NFL influenced college football. In recent years, it is the other way around. The college game is changing pro football. If there was ever a time for someone to go from college to the NFL, this is it.
First and foremost, Kelly has been a dynamic leader. The whole organization just feels different. He didn’t come in like Buddy Ryan, full of swagger and bold promises. He didn’t come in like Andy Reid with his own detailed plan. Kelly came in with some simple philosophies and ideas that he felt could work at the NFL level. There is no 5-year plan. Kelly wants to win now. At the same time, Kelly has essentially forbidden anyone on the team from talking about the Super Bowl. Instead, Kelly preaches “Win the day.” Do that often enough and the Super Bowls will follow.
Kelly hired a veteran coaching staff that designed an offense and defense based upon some primary ideas of his. There is no Chip Kelly offense or Bill Davis defense. There is the Eagles offense and defense. Kelly brought in a training staff that embraces cutting edge technology and unique ideas. Kelly taught the players how to practice and how to train before he even thought about teaching them how to play football.
That may be the real genius of Chip Kelly. He focuses on the fundamentals more than any big time coach I can recall. He’s not going to let the star players “do their thing”. They have to do what he wants and the way he wants it. Mike Vick said Kelly was the first coach to really get on him about the way he carries the football. I find that hard to believe, but at the least Kelly was the first coach who really got through. That means he did it enough or in such a forceful way that Vick actually listened. Kelly got on Shady McCoy for poor decisions he made when running the football. Shady set the Eagles rushing record for a game when he went for 217 yards against the Lions. Kelly was mad that Shady made a poor read on a downfield run and limited a gain to 29 yards when it could have gone for a longer gain, possibly a TD. Instead of kissing his star player’s butt on the best day of his career, Kelly was coaching him up on a mistake. That’s how you push players to greatness.
Kelly has an odd personality. He’s not a fiery, over the top guy who forces you to follow him. Kelly makes you want to follow him. He’s part salesman and part teacher. One of the big keys is that he’s also a listener. Kelly lets players ask questions. If there is something they don’t like or don’t understand, the players can ask Kelly why things are done that particular way. And he’s got answers. Kelly has studied everything and has a reason behind why he does what he does. He’s naturally inquisitive and has a very open mind.
There have been some ups and downs in Kelly’s transition to the NFL. He failed to call a timeout vs San Diego so that Michael Vick could stay in the game. He also didn’t handle the clock well at the end of that game. There were some missed challenge opportunities. You can question some 4th downs when he did/didn’t go for it. You can question some of his play-calls in those situations.
Mostly, Kelly proved to be ready for the NFL. His offensive ideas worked. The players bought into his training ideas. The team stayed incredibly healthy for the first time in years. Kelly was a good gameday coach. Wasted timeouts became a thing of the past. Kelly showed a good feel for when to be conservative, when to be aggressive and when to be creative.
Maybe the most impressive thing about Kelly is that the Eagles looked like his Oregon teams. Kelly wanted to run the ball. Shady led the league in rushing. The Eagles also led the league in rushing. Kelly loves explosive plays. The Eagles had more explosive plays than any team since the NFL began keeping track of the stat 20 years ago. Kelly hates turnovers. The Eagles had the 4th fewest turnovers in the NFL. Kelly wants his defense to limit points and make plays. The Eagles were way down at 29th in yards allowed, but at 17th in points allowed. They were 3rd in the NFL in takeaways.
Kelly also is a huge believer in having a smart team. He preaches to his players to think. He doesn’t just want it, Kelly pushes it on his players. For the first time in a while, the Eagles were a smart team in 2013.
Kelly was able to get the Eagles to play the way he wanted. Not exactly. Not perfectly. But they played his kind of football. That’s hugely important for a coach. It shows that he’s able to get the team to quickly adapt to his ideas.
You want a coach who has a vision. You then want the coach to be able to make that vision come to life. In this regard, Kelly is off to a great start.
Year One of KellyBall was a lot of fun and proved to be a big success. I can’t wait to see what The Chippah has in store for us in the future.
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