AFTER three seasons here’s what we’ve got:
2013: 10 – 6 with a playoff loss
2014: 10 – 6 with no playoffs
2015: 9 – 7 (at best since the team is currently 4 – 7)
This team is not making progress. In fact it’s regressing, as you can clearly see by the diminishing returns every year.
Most fans and journalists attribute our slide to the league catching up to the version of the Spread that Chip Kelly runs. While it’s clear that that has in fact happened, there are bigger factors at work here that the media is either missing or afraid to mention for some reason.
I don’t believe that this many pro journalists are missing such obvious signs. It’s more likely that they want to stay on the Eagles organization’s good side to keep their access to players, coaches and news to report. I on the other hand am not a journalist, so I have no ass to kiss. This means when I see something I have no incentive to shut up about it. So here’s what’s destroying our team.
Most coaches come out of college as assistants or coordinators. The lion’s share of NFL Head Coaches do a little time in the NFL before they get handed the big headset. (One example would be Andy Reid.) They get a chance to learn things about how the NFL works vs how college works. For Kelly it was a crash course, and he had no time to pick up any of the NFL’s nuances. Now with the duties of being a GM, he has even less time to look into the fine points of being an NFL Head Coach.
At this point with this much to do, he will never be able to catch up now. He will simply never have the time.
Smart coaches learn they have to constantly innovate to keep ahead of the curve. What they learn over time is that the NFL is a copycat league. Other coaches will steal/borrow/adapt the things you do to help their own systems; and in the process of practicing against it day in and day out, they learn how to defend against the thing they stole/borrowed/adapted from you.
Kelly on the other hand is still running the same basic handful of plays and concepts that he was working in early 2014 after the Offense shifted from a being partially vertical, to being almost exclusively horizontal.
Inability to adjust:
Checking out of one play and into another almost never happens anymore. You can almost set your watch by what the Eagles run on a given down and distance. I mentioned last year that the WR Bubble Screen to WR Jordan Matthews had all but disappeared. It STILL hasn’t been able to make a return because teams take it away. Kelly says the reason the Eagles don’t challenge deep often anymore has to do with coverages that take that away from us. So why does he just eat that?
When the Eagles get into a hole, what you don’t see is him on the sidelines actively coaching. He becomes a spectator. At that point the CSC security staff seems more involved in the game than he is. If things don’t go his way early, he has no idea of how to get them back on track.
If you thought I was about to rant about all the talent he gave away, Surprise! I’m talking instead about the players that are still here.
Injuries are beginning to really mount despite the smoothies, sleep schedules and all the other sport science ubba-gubba that he preaches. This is the one that I’m most surprised to never hear about. His sports science crap is just that. CRAP. It’s not crap because it’s not working now. It was always crap.
Listen, players at Oregon didn’t benefit from smoothies. They benefited from being between the ages of 18 and 22! They also played fewer games than NFL players. It didn’t hurt Kelly to have a game day roster twice the size of an NFL game day roster. (The Ducks 2015 roster has 105 active players on it. In the NFL your roster is 53, but on game day you only have 45 active. )
Kelly is also known for driving his players harder in practice than he does in games. That’s easy to get away with when a guy is 19 and you’ll only have him for 2 more years. But when a guy is 30+ with almost a decade of NFL wear and tear on him, you just can’t beat him up like he’s 20 anymore. Especially with little to no depth behind him. I’ve said as much, RIGHT GODDAMNED HERE and HERE as well. Oh yeah, and here as well. This was too easy to see coming.
Kelly came to the NFL (like Steve Spurrier), determined to teach everyone a lesson, and he did. What he taught us all was that he’s a one trick pony who can’t hack it at this level. He has a winning career record but it’s meaningless considering that he can’t beat decent-to-good teams for the most part.
Simply put, the Eagles have regressed because our coach can’t coach.
That being said, the organization has painted themselves into a corner with him, making it where firing him now would hurt us. Possibly for a very long time. That means we have another year of him to look forward to. So buckle in for a not so great 2016 season.
Unless he does us all a favor and runs back to college.