Last year Chip Kelly was a mystery. No one knew for sure how the genius from Oregon would translate to the NFL. His supporters thought he could be an updated version of Jimmy Johnson. His detractors thought he would be Steve Spurrier 2.0. Was there anything sillier than Dan Graziano thinking that Kelly would be the first of the NFC East coaches to go? Shanny already got dumped. Garrett and Coughlin both are a losing record away from getting a pink slip. What a difference a year makes.
After a terrific 2013 season, the Chip Kelly bandwagon is overflowing. His critics are few and far between. Greg Bedard recently visited Eagles Training Camp for MMQB.com. He had plenty of praise for the Eagles, but this passage focused on Kelly.
Kelly runs, by far, the most efficient practice in all of football. There is no wasted time on the field. I mean, why have guys standing around and watching when you do team drills side by side on the same field? And he’s also just smart. At one point, the offensive starters lined up against the entire defensive unit. At every defensive position, the four-deep roster was lined up, one behind the other at each position. As the offense was shifting and motioning, the defensive players went through their checks and calls. Each side of the ball only took a few steps into the play, but that’s the most important split second. By having the four-deep defense on the field, the less experienced players could mirror and learn from the players in front of them. That’s just smart. And it’s so simple. That’s the genius of Chip Kelly.
A lot of so-called football geniuses try to re-invent the wheel. Chip just looks for a way to improve the wheel. Keep things simple, but improve them when and where you can.
Bedard likes the Eagles, but gives a fair assessment.
They’re a definite contender because of the improvement on the defensive side of the ball during the second half of last season, but are they good enough to compete with the NFC’s elite? I have serious questions about that. I think the Eagles are a peg below Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay and New Orleans, but after seeing Washington on Thursday, there’s no doubt the Eagles are the class of the NFC East. To do better than that, Philadelphia needs to show they can match the physicality of the elite. Not sure they’re ready to do that quite yet.
I still think this team is a year away, but I hope they prove me wrong.
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Urban Meyer spent time with Chip Kelly after he left Florida. Meyer is an innovator, but he’s smart enough to know that you need to steal some ideas as well as coming up with your own. I’ve heard Meyer talk about how much he learned from Kelly. These tweets also are pretty impressive.
— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) July 28, 2014
Urban Meyer also said he learned more in the 3 days with Chip Kelly than he has in years!
— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) July 28, 2014
High praise, indeed.
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The thing that really blows me away is how quickly Chip has created a distinct football culture and how the players have bought into that.
Evan Mathis would like his contract to change. He thinks he is worth more money. But he didn’t hold out.
“I didn’t want to have a negative impact on the team,” he said. “I didn’t want to send the wrong message to players, coaches, fans. I think I’m doing the right thing.”
Does that sound like a typical NFL player on a typical team?
No matter what you think of DeSean Jackson as a WR, I think we can all agree that he wasn’t the ideal fit for Kelly’s culture. Chip could have tried to make that work, but instead chose to move on. As much as you may hate the move, that’s part of the reason Lurie hired Chip. He wanted a coach that would have a specific vision for the team and who wouldn’t be afraid to make bold decisions as he built the team.
Kelly is filling the roster with his kind of guys. We don’t know how this will work, but I really like the fact there isn’t a lot of compromise. Kelly believes in his vision. He saw it work at New Hampshire and at Oregon.
BUT THIS IS THE NFL!!!
Chip would tell you that football is football. The circumstances change, but the game is still the game. I think he’s underselling the amount of change a bit, but I like his overall point. If you start compromising your vision, it is no longer your vision, but rather a bizarre version of it.
If you are in a lab and trying to make a drug, you can’t just substitute chemicals and expect the same results. You will alter what you make by what you put into it. Kelly needs his guys to make his vision work.
Kelly isn’t unreasonable in regard to what he wants from players. And he does seem open to giving players time to buy in. He’s not like some egotistical maniac who rants about his ideas all the time and makes hair trigger decisions. While Kelly has definitive ideas, he has an open mind and will listen to others. He wants player to want to buy in. He’s not going to bully guys with relentless “my way or the highway” speeches.
Kelly talked to Justin Peelle about what NFL players would and wouldn’t accept before he met with the team. Kelly’s not oblivious to the fact he’s dealing with 53 grown men. To this point, he’s managed to sell his ideas well and even the rookies seem like Chip guys. Jordan Matthews is the most anti-diva WR (early pick) that we’ve seen in a while. New guys like Chris Maragos and Malcolm Jenkins seem like ideal fits for the Kelly culture.
At the end of a season, Kelly seems to know which current players are part of the program and which ones doesn’t fit. It is pretty amazing that he’s been able to find players in the draft and free agency who fit so well right off the bat. Chip seems to have good people skills. He can tell who should fit and who shouldn’t.
I think part of the magic with Chip is that he’s genuine. His coaches like him. His players like him. Chip interacts with fans and the media and comes across like a real person. That makes it easier to buy in to his ideas. He’s not trying to sell you on how smart he is. He’s all about results What gets us the best results?
There is no agenda to show the world that his ways work. Chip’s agenda is to build a great football team and win titles.
I almost wish I could fast forward time to see how all of this turns out, but that would ruin what could be a remarkable ride. I”m buying all in to Chip’s ideas and I can’t wait to see what the next few years hold. Don’t obsess on the destination. Enjoy the journey as well.