30 December 2015

What is next for Chip Kelly & the Eagles?

(Philadelphia Inquirer)
The NFL season is not even over yet and the coaching carousel is already getting underway with the Eagles dismissing coach Chip Kelly yesterday. This comes only one season after Kelly was giving control over personnel matters and after a wild offseason with a number of bold moves, the Eagles have suffered through a pretty disappointing season at 6-9 after back-to-back 10-6 seasons.

So now after this relatively surprising decision, what is next for both parties?
As I noted, Kelly made a bunch of bold moves this past offseason (trading for Sam Bradford and Kiko Alonso and signing DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Byron Maxwell among others), and most of them have not worked at all. Bradford has certainly been better than Nick Foles this season but that is more a byproduct of Foles being absolutely terrible this season for the Rams as Bradford has been little more than decent. Alonso has struggled to stay healthy and has not looked like the same player he was in Buffalo. Murray has both struggled to stay on the field and has struggled when he was on it en route to losing his starting job to a more-effective Mathews. Maxwell has not been awful this season but he is being way overpaid and is out of place as a number one corner.

Perhaps an even bigger problem has been regarding the players he has gotten rid of. DeSean Jackson may have had issues with Kelly and he struggled with injuries this season, but he was a dangerous deep threat the like of which the Eagles have failed to replace. The team also didn't put up a huge fight to keep Jeremy Maclin either and he has gone on to have a very nice season for Kelly's predecessor, Andy Reid, in Kansas City. LeSean McCoy made a lot of hay about being dealt to Buffalo by Kelly in the Alonso deal and while he hasn't been great with the Bills, he certainly has been a whole lot better than Murray has been. Something that has gone relatively under the radar compared to the other decisions was cutting both of their starting guards from last season, which played a big part in Philadelphia's line going in the toilet.

There is no question that Kelly's record as a GM after one season is not very good and certainly helped to play a part in the team's slide in the standings. Therefore, I was thinking that the Eagles would ask Kelly to scale back his control over personnel while keeping him as the coach but owner Jeffrey Lurie said that was not an option during a press conference earlier today explaining his decision.

That said, I didn't expect the Eagles to fire him altogether, nor do I think they should have. Yes, this season has been a disappointment and yes, it is clear that a number of his players had issues with his management style. But even then, it's not like he hasn't had any success. He has the best record among the NFC East teams since he took over and you can't ignore the fact that he took over a team that went 12-20 in Reid's last seasons and went 20-12 in his first two seasons (starting Michael Vick, the aforementioned Foles and Mark Sanchez at quarterback during that time). And even as his first year as the GM was not a success, that Lurie only gave him one year to doesn't exactly indicate patience of the part of the owner.

So now the Eagles will go back to their collaborative front office approach with Howie Roseman back in charge but as to who will replace Kelly as the head coach will be the question. It may not be that great of a job which could potentially hinder them this offseason but they do have a head start on the other jobs that will open up on Black Monday. I don't foresee them going after a college coach again, especially since we know this next coach will not have personnel control and a coach like Josh McDaniels may rather wait out for a better job. But a hot coordinator like Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott (a former Eagles assistant) or Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase could be in the mix.

As for Kelly, it appears that he wants to stay in the NFL and he will have some options. The natural landing spot for him would be Tennessee where he would be reunited with his star pupil Marcus Mariota. Mariota has shown when he's been healthy that he can play well in a more traditional offensive scheme but the ability to reunite the two may just be too much for the Titans to resist. Beyond Tennessee, it looks like the Colts job will open up and who wouldn't want to work with Andrew Luck? Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has always tried to lure high-profile coaches to Miami Gardens and he may try to tab Kelly to get the most out of Ryan Tannehill. Perhaps the Browns, who Kelly spurned before taking the Philly job, will be interested but they may keep Mike Pettine around.

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