RECENTLY an Eagles fan asked us (his fellow fans) if we believed in Chip Kelly. It’s a good question. An intelligent one to be sure, so I think my fellow fan deserves a response.
This in no way is me trying to speak for other Eagles fans.
I am not 100% sold on Chip Kelly.
Full disclosure: I didn’t want Kelly to be the next HC. I wanted Gus Bradley or Vic Fangio. And I only wanted them because I knew we couldn’t lure Bill Cowher out of broadcasting. What I wanted, was Defense.
Instead we got an Offensive college coach who ran the Spread (Run and Shoot)/Spread Option. He added some gimmicks like a fast tempo, and a QB in the Pistol instead of under C, but there was otherwise nothing Earth-shaking going on.
So he gets here, and who does he hire as the DC? Bill Davis. Most Eagle fans couldn’t have picked Davis out of a line-up, but my best friend is a 49er fan, so I knew his work already. Not impressed would be putting it mildly. (FYI: His units have a funny way of being worse in his second year. Look it up. In fact, here’s a link.) As a guy who wanted the Eagles to go Defensive, this was like brass-knuckles across exposed teeth.
This used to be 4 paragraphs, but I’ll say it as one sentence: I had some issues with Kelly’s credibility prior to the start of last season.
Like most, I expected 6-10 or 7-9 for last year. The 10-6 finish was nice, but let’s all be honest here; there were some CRAZY mitigating circumstances to that record.
And we did lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Actually the loss isn’t what bothers me, it’s HOW we lost that bothers me. Haunts me actually. We were pushed around at the line of scrimmage on BOTH sides of the ball, vs. an insultingly vanilla game plan. It was almost like Sean Payton was schooling Kelly, while only using the A-B-C’s of football. On national television, the Saints of all people, showed the world that the easiest way to defeat Philadelphia is to just beat on us. Wail away. Up-front on both sides of the line, our big guys were manhandled. It was nationally televised emasculation at the hands of a team that is itself thought of as a finesse bunch.
Seems like a fluke until you realize that all the Saints did was copy what the Viking’s back-ups did during Week 15. (So many Eagles fans have amnesia about that game.) With so many starters hurt, Minny went fairly vanilla and beat us a convincing 48-30. They did it by out-toughing us. They simply beat on us. As a native Philadelphian, the idea that I root for a football team that is now able to be pushed around by the Vikings and the Saints, is jarring.
I remember when we were thought of as tough. I remember a time when the Eagles were a team that would send 7 guys at a time after you, or play games like “The Body Bag Game”. Players on other teams feared our players. No one “looked forward to” playing against Reggie White, Seth Joyner or Andre Waters. No one talked trash about facing Jeremiah Trotter, or “circling dates” for when they saw Brian Dawkins.
That’s not the case now. We’re fair game now. This is the primary reason I wanted a defensive coach. Offensive gurus don’t tend to promote toughness and physicality the way defensive coaches do. They’re schemers. They like to scheme. And that’s what Kelly is. He’s a schemer.
I’m waiting for Chip Kelly to (among other things), make his team as good as his words “We’re from Philly, and we fight.” Until he does that, or until he can consistently make it to round 2 of the playoffs, I’ll never be 100% sold on this guy.