20 games later: Was I right about Chip Kelly?


Once upon a time, I was early in my high school years and making videos on YouTube discussing national sports topics. At that time, I hated writing, and wanted to be a national sports talking head (one that went against the grain) and I thought I was well on my way to accomplishing that through my work in the once-relevant YouTube sports community.

Needless to say, things have changed since then. I’ve grown to really like writing, and I’ve lost most of my interest in trying to cover three sports on a national level–it’s too difficult to watch that many things and still come off as an expert–and focused on just covering Philly sports, through Section 215.

This video, which was made in January 16th, 2013, nine days before I accepted the editor’s position at Section 215, were my original thoughts on the hire of Chip Kelly. Over a year and a half later (20 games if you count last year’s playoff game), I figured that I’d revisit the video and see what I was right about, wrong about, and what remains to be seen.

*These points go in sequential order of what I said in the video*

It’s worth noting that since Kelly has left Oregon, I’ve probably watched more Oregon football than when he was there. First off, I’m much more of a pro sports fan than college. Secondly, I’m a Penn State fan, not someone who latches on with another team across the country just because they are better than any area teams. I watched some of Chip at Oregon, but I’ve watched more Oregon since he left to study what tendencies are still the same under Mark Helfrich and to scout Marcus Mariota.

I ended up being a two sport athlete in high school (soccer and track), but in middle school, I was on our school’s basketball team and was in my own head. I couldn’t grasp the offense and was nervous to play in front of our entire school, so it didn’t go well for me in the limited playing time I got early in the season. Then one game, I got extended time due to another player getting hurt, and I swished two threes in a row, and people jokingly started calling me “Ka$h Kelly” and it caught on. So if you didn’t understand my intro to this video, there you go.

  • Heath Evans was a joke of an analyst then, and not much has changed since.
  • The Eagles dined with Gus Bradley the night before hiring Chip. It was that close to happening.

    I guess the majority of us didn’t have a great grasp of Kelly’s offense. It wasn’t just about being fast-paced. The 2012 Patriots, who I referenced in the video, did implement the 80-90 play a game tactic that Bill Belichick got from Chip Kelly, but they did so more based on their tight-ends, rather than Kelly doing it based on running the ball, setting up screen passes, and making things simple for the quarterback running the system.

    I liked what I saw from Kelly in college and wanted to see if his offense would work in the NFL, but not necessarily with the Eagles being the guinea pigs for it. Now I can’t imagine if Chip had landed somewhere else.

    I was right and wrong about Chip Kelly and the aspect of huddling. I was right in the sense that the offense is way more effective and fun to watch when they have a rhythm going (no, shit), but wrong in the sense that they would really have to huddle to get into a rhythm.

    I was also correct, at least if last year’s second Redskins’ game (this was the most notable example) was any indication, in my concern about being able to slow the tempo down to drain the clock. In many senses, a Chip-led offense is better off just keeping their foot on the pedal than trying to slow things down, because they lack the ability to put together any sort of actual drives in a non-tempo situation, therefore defeating the purpose of slowing things down.

    It’s funny how all the other coaching options I listed were so relevant. Mike McCoy ended up in San Diego, Jay Gruden ended up in Washington a year later, Gus Bradley–who I was ridiculously high on at the time–ended up in Jacksonville, and both Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden could have a job in minutes if they chose to seriously pursue it.

    Like I predicted, Michael Vick did have a change in heart once Kelly signed on, and restructured his deal to stay in Philly. Contrary to popular opinion, Vick played very good football under Kelly, but the Eagles defense hadn’t clicked yet, and Vick’s hamstring injury gave way to Nick Foles playing.

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    When I predicted Chip wouldn’t bring in big name guys but rather guys that fit his system, I guess I was right and wrong. Chip ultimately got rid of DeSean Jackson, so he doesn’t feel the need to have big name players, but it also isn’t like Darren Sproles, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin weren’t very productive NFL players before Chip got here. I guess Chip’s legacy in that sense is largely dependent on how good Nick Foles remains long-term, whether he can continue to develop pieces like Riley Cooper, and how his own draft picks (i.e. Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff) ultimately pan out in the NFL.

  • At least in year one, Kelly’s offense was more than sustainable over what turned out to be a 17 game schedule. Injuries this year appear to have been unavoidable, but Cary Williams speaking out against how rigorous Kelly’s practices have been from a defensive standpoint, could be a sign that in year two of Kelly’s reign players aren’t buying in as much. Or maybe Williams is just an outlier, because Brad Smith defended the practices in a fan chat earlier this week, saying that while they were hard, they gave the Eagles ‘an edge’.
  • Kelly did ultimately go with Nick Foles, but only after experimenting with Vick first. It is worth noting that Kelly saying that ‘he was in awe’ of Foles, probably wasn’t complete BS. He didn’t start him right away, but he also did trade him in the offseason for a mid-round draft pick, which he certainly had the chance to do.

    It’s funny how I thought that the Eagles needed to move on from DeSean Jackson to start a new era, but said that they wouldn’t because he fit the system too well. Doesn’t look like Chip ended up thinking that way.

    I was really high on Bryce Brown at this time, largely because I thought he represented the perfect change of pace back from Shady. After one season with Chip though, Brown’s tendency to run east-west rather than north-south, caused the Eagles to move on from him, and he has yet to be active three games into his Bills career.

    I said to give Chip Kelly three seasons to make it work, but I can’t fathom the fanbase actually having done that. We did give up on the Kevin Kolb era after on half, despite claiming before the season that we were ready for a rebuild, mediocre type of season.

    “I’m not sure Pete Carroll’s style holds up in the NFL.” Those were words of wisdom from me, as the Seahawks would win the Superbowl and begin what looks like it has the potential to be a modern-day NFL dynasty.

    While I’m still slightly concerned about how much (or little) Chip values the defensive side of things, and think that it is a realistic possibility that he eventually goes back to college, I’ve reached the point where I’m just slightly below the level of worshiping the ground that Chip walks on.  Mike McCoy isn’t doing too bad for himself in San Diego and I think Gus Bradley would have worked out much better in Philly than he is in Jacksonville, but none of them feel cutting-edge the way that Chip does.