If you know me, or have read some of my posts on this blog regarding Chip Kelly, you’ll know I have been fascinated and enamored by the way he does things. Going back to his days at the University of Oregon, I’ve always enjoyed watching his teams play football. When the Eagles hired him on January 16, 2013, I believed it was the right move and that he’d bring a lot of innovative strategies to the NFL and have success unlike other college coaches that tried to take the next step to the pros.
Despite a collapse at the end of the 2014 season, I thought beginning his tenure in the NFL with two 10-6 seasons and an NFC East division title was a good start for Kelly. Then the craziness began. The Eagles handed Kelly the personnel department and exiled Howie Roseman. Kelly gutted the roster and remade things his way.
Questions arose about Kelly’s readiness to run an NFL franchise despite just two seasons as a head coach and no playoff wins. I hung in, willing to see his project through. Once the summer hit and the season was getting closer, I felt confident that the 2015 Eagles were going to be the best of Kelly’s three teams so far. Many pundits predicted the Eagles would find their way back into the postseason and make some noise once they got there.
Yet here we are just two weeks into the season and it feels like it’s over. The up-tempo offense that is synonymous with Kelly could not get anything going for six out of the season’s first eight quarters. This was against two defenses in Atlanta and Dallas that are just mediocre at best. On Sunday, the Eagles head to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Jets, one of the NFL’s best defenses.
This is without a doubt the most adversity Kelly has faced in his coaching career. Skeptics of his offseason overhaul are speaking out even louder. Reports surfaced about the Eagles offense being too predictable and the Dallas defense knowing where certain running plays were going. There’s no one else Kelly can look at and blame for the horrendous and lifeless 0-2 start the Eagles have had. The reality is these are his guys. He got to do this his way and right now his way isn’t working.
For a coach that makes plenty of snide remarks in press conferences, doesn’t seem to care about what others think of him, and seems pretty set in his ways about how he’s going to do things, this is quite a reality check. It’s easy to just say back to the drawing table, change things up and make the appropriate adjustments. But that’s not the kind of guy Kelly is. He believes in his way and no other way.
Now, even more so than last December when the Eagles collapsed, Chip Kelly’s way is being put to the test. The way in which he coaches and the way in which he runs a football team from a personnel standpoint. He took a lot of risks on injury prone players in the offseason. Kiko Alonso, who he traded LeSean McCoy for, is already hurt and the timetable for his return is unclear. There’s no reason to think the Eagles offense is going to get on track and the toughest defense it will face all year on Sunday. This is a trying time for Chip Kelly, and he needs to respond because if not, this is going to get a whole lot worse.