Eagles’ Chip Kelly is not on the hot-seat in 2015


Breaking down why the Eagles‘ head coach’s job isn’t in danger in 2015, regardless of outcome.

When Chip Kelly was introduced as the Philadelphia Eagles’ head-coach on January 17th, 2013, Kelly called the time leading up to his decision to leave the University of Oregon and transition to the NFL both ‘exciting’ and ‘difficult’.

More than two and a half years later, those words could still be used to describe the lightning-rod coach, who said this upon being hired.

"My role is, right now, clearly defining what we want. What is a cornerback–what are we looking for? What’s the height, what’s the weight, what’s the speed, what’s the makeup of each individual position?And then in collaboration with everybody (we need to make decisions). Not one person can do it all.I’ve heard questions that I want control over this, control over that, that’s never been an issue and it never is an issue for me. I’m a football coach. I’m not a general manager, I’m not a salary cap guy–I coach football."

Kelly was very complimentary of Howie Roseman in the presser, whom he seized personnel power from this off-season.

Kelly used that power to move on from franchise icons like LeSean McCoy and Trent Cole, among others. He signed both Byron Maxwell and DeMarco Murray to lucrative deals that carry a fairly large risk. The biggest risk he used his new-found power for was moving on from Nick Foles (not really a risk) and a second-round pick for Sam Bradford. Bradford is returning from back-to-back torn ACLs, and had struggled to consistently fulfill the promise that made him the number one overall pick in 2010.

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And if his program succeeds this year and continues to build moving forward, the off-season will have been a massive success. If it fails, and things begin to unravel under Kelly, it’s hard to imagine the level of criticism that the organization will face both locally and nationally.

With the exception of Tom Brady, is there anyone who has more of a target on their back entering the 2015 season? Probably not.

But make no mistake, Chip Kelly is not on the hot-seat in 2015. Barring the team going 3-13, which isn’t going to happen, Kelly’s about as safe as it gets in 2015. I’d venture a guess that Jeffrey Lurie, the only one whose opinion on the matter really means anything, doesn’t envision a world where Kelly would even be on the hot-seat entering 2016.

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Things can change and noise can make it’s way to the owner’s box, but I don’t think there’s any part of Lurie that’s entering 2015 with the same target on Kelly’s back that most people look at him with. If he was expecting Kelly to fail with personnel power, he probably wouldn’t have demoted Howie Roseman, who he thinks very highly of, to hand that power to Chip. He probably never would have hired him to begin with.

There’s no question that Kelly could strike out on some of his off-season moves. Murray and Ryan Mathews could both struggle to stay healthy. Maxwell could be underwhelming. The offensive-line, minus Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis, could struggle. But those things happen, and Lurie could very well give Kelly the chance to correct those type of mistakes after 2015, the same way that Kelly has with special teams and secondary holes the past two off-seasons.

Aug 2, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly during training camp at NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The only realistic chance of Kelly leaving Philadelphia in the next two seasons that I see is if he does so on his own accord. As I stated above, most holes on a football team are fixable when you have Kelly’s level of power.

However, if Bradford struggles to stay healthy, or just struggles in general, Kelly’s fall-back option is Mark Sanchez. Sanchez is a very serviceable backup, but even in a Quarterback-friendly offense like Kelly’s, he’s not going to win a Superbowl.

So if Kelly gets to the end of this season without a clear Quarterback moving forward, he may decide to return to college or seek a job in the NFL that presents him with a better option at Quarterback. That part of the equation really isn’t predictable or worth talking about.

But even if the Bradford plan fails, and the team misses the playoffs for the second consecutive season, expect Lurie to give Chip every chance to pick up the pieces. He has someone that is an innovative football mind, and moving on from him wouldn’t magically make a franchise Quarterback appear, nor would he be likely to find a better on-field coach. And Lurie knows that, even if sports talk radio doesn’t.

Next: Eagles Roundtable: Which Player Will Disappoint in 2015