Let’s chip off the ugly old midnight green from the Philadelphia Eagles helmets to reveal that flashy kelly green paint worn in the early ‘90s by the likes of Randall Cunningham. Though Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie has yet to replace the old jerseys, he did however replace the old coach who seems to have had the job since the initial uniform switch in 1996. On Jan. 16, it was announced that Charles “Chip” Kelly would be replacing the longest tenured coach in the NFL at the time, Andy Reid.
With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, Philadelphia fans were yet again staring at a TV without their own birds holding the Lombardi trophy above their heads. While the Baltimore birds were just beginning their journey, the Eagles were looking towards the 2013-14 season by firing head coach Andy Reid after 14 seasons and a disappointing 2012-13 season that ended with a 4-12 recorded.
The Chiefs immediately took the opportunity to grab newly unemployed coach Andy Reid after he was fired on the last day of the year. Though we would like to dismiss all of his accomplishments, let’s admit that Reid was something special after all. He may not have been the greatest coach ever, but he turned the crapshoot that Ray Rhodes left him into a serious contender.
The Eagles were 3-13 when Reid took over and after two seasons, he brought them to his first playoff appearance. In his 14 years as coach, he went to the playoffs nine times and won the NFC East six of them. Unfortunately, his record in the NFC Championship game has haunted him, having lost four of the five times he played in it. His record as the Eagles coach was 130-93-1 during the regular season and 10-9 in the playoffs.
Replacing Reid is no easy task, yet the Eagles knew it was time for a change. Their search was the most extensive of any other NFL team looking for a head coach as it seemed. Though their focus seemed to be on Chip Kelly from the University of Oregon, they were looking at everyone, including Denver Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy, former Tampa Bay Head Coach Jon Gruden and Seattle Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley.
Despite interest in Chip Kelly, the Eagles weren’t putting all their chips in the same pot. Yet at the same time, all the other NFL owners were looking to grab Kelly’s attention. Kelly was being wined and dined by everyone as soon as his college season ended. Mind you, it ended with a stellar BCS Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State 35-17.
The Browns were the first to take a stab at Kelly’s football mind, but it seemed futile when they came back to Cleveland empty handed. Immediately, it was clear whom Kelly wanted throughout the process. After a grueling nine-hour interview with the Eagles at Lurie’s home, analysts expected the deal to get signed then and there. Yet, that was not the case when Kelly claimed he would be returning to Oregon for another year.
While Philadelphia fans thought Bradley would be the new guy in green, reports started popping everywhere that Kelly had accepted the job. Several rumors surfaced about the whole dilemma. The first involved CEO of Nike Phil Knight and his dedication to his alma mater.
Supposedly, according to Mike Musinelli on his radio station, Knight offered Kelly a contract that was abnormally high, which Kelly couldn’t refuse. It is estimated Knight has donated over $300 million towards the school. However, in another turn of events, the University of Oregon was under investigation for paying players. Though all claims have been denied, people suspect Kelly feared his team and career would be in jeopardy as a result of penalties.
After the grueling process of back and forth decisions, Kelly was finally the coach. Maybe Reid was a factor in the decision.
“Andy reached out to me and told me about his experience here and what this organization is all about,” he said. “There’s not a classier guy.”
Reid seems to still be helping the team out despite his efforts to dismantle everything by firing his defensive coordinator and best defensive linemen Jason Babin mid-season. Even so, Reid is officially old news. (Good luck trying to save your career with Matt Cassell as your quarterback.)
We may have lost a coaching icon, but we gained an untapped coaching talent. With no NFL coaching experience, people are weary about his upcoming season as they should be. Look at Nick Saban for instance. Between his LSU and Alabama college coaching stints, he coached the Miami Dolphins. He finished his NFL career at 15-17. His college record is 154-55-1. After leaving the pros, he won three national championships. So people think Kelly will just head back to the college level.
He assured otherwise. “I’m all in,” he said. “I think it was Cortez who said ‘burn the boats.’ I’ve burned the boats, and I’m not going back. I’m an NFL coach. I would have never made the decision if there was any trepidation left.”
Kelly’s record right now is quite impressive. Having coached since 1990, Chip has over 20 years of experience. Though his background is relatively offensively based, he does have three years coaching defense in his first five years of coaching. Since then, it has been strictly offensive, which many revere him as one of the best offensive minds in the game.
He coached the Oregon Ducks for six years. The first two were as offensive coordinator. It is said that he was bound to leave, until Knight moved the previous head coach to a new position to get Kelly promoted to head coach. From 2009-12, under Kelly’s direction, the Ducks finished with an impressive 46-7 record. In 2009, Kelly sent the Ducks to their first BCS bowl game since 1995.
Among Kelly’s other accolades are several Coach of the Year awards. In 2009 and 2010, Kelly won the Pac-10 Coach of the Year award. After the 2010 season, he won five other Coach of the Year awards, including the Associated Press Coach of the Year. Kelly has three BCS bowl game appearances, winning the last two he competed in, the Rose bowl and the Fiesta Bowl.
People are excited for a new head coach. Let’s just see where Kelly takes us. It’s been a tiring process, but rebuilding this program will be much harder. Good luck to coach Kelly, he’ll need it with the defensive issues, quarterback ordeal, dismal work ethic, lack of effort, Desean Jackson being a punk, loss of assignments, fans jumping ship, etc. It’s not looking good, but a new voice may be the solution. Cross your fingers Eagles fans.
By Frank Lippincott