Chip Kelly will fail in Philadelphia

By
Updated: March 11, 2013

Fourteen stable and mostly successful years under Andy Reid ended on a 4-12 note when the Philadelphia Eagles chose to fire their long-time head coach and start over. After conducting a thorough search, the team eventually , who now moves to the NFL for the first time in his career.

On the surface, this seems like a pretty solid hire. Kelly has been an offensive wizard in college, leading a high-paced Oregon attack that since 2007 has annually ranked among the NCAA leaders in both yards and points. While at Oregon, Kelly compiled a 46-7 record, won at least a share of the Pac-10 (or -12) title all four years, and led his team to four BCS game (including the National Championship Game once), winning two of them.

Will Chip Kelly find the same success in Philadelphia that he did at Oregon? I think not.

Will Chip Kelly find the same success in Philadelphia that he did at Oregon? I think not.

Despite Kelly’s track record of success, I am confident in saying that his move to Philadelphia will be an unmitigated disaster, and he will be back in the college ranks after two years. I have several reasons for taking this stance.

Nick Saban, who is currently making a case as one of the best college coaches ever, failed miserably in the NFL.

Nick Saban, who is currently making a case as one of the best college coaches ever, failed miserably in the NFL.

Shaky track record

Most NFL coaches who are hired from the college ranks have similarly impressive credentials to Kelly, yet many of them fall flat on their face. Although we have seen Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll make the jump from college to NFL successfully, the last 15 years has also given us Butch Davis, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, and Bobby Petrino, all of whom failed miserably before scurrying back to college.

Why am I so sure Chip Kelly will fall into the latter group?

Offense

The offense that Chip Kelly ran at Oregon is an up-tempo version of the read-option. I don’t believe this will fail solely because of that, as I recently stated that the read-option has a permanent home in the NFL. However, a team must have the right quarterback to make this offense work, someone who is capable of beating teams with both his arms and his legs. The Eagles do not have that player on their roster. Sure, they have Michael Vick, but he has never developed into a capable passer, and he has never been able to stay healthy when taking hits.

Dominant defensive linemen, such as Nick Fairley, wreaked havoc on Oregon's offense.

Dominant defensive linemen, such as Nick Fairley, wreaked havoc on Oregon’s offense.

Another strike against Kelly is that his Oregon teams routinely struggled against opponents with big, fast, NFL-caliber defensive lines. They lost high-profile games against opponents with future NFL defensive linemen three years in a row, to Boise State (2009), Auburn (2010), and LSU (2011). Their prolific offense, which routinely racked up 40 or 50 points—even against ranked teams—averaged 18.3 points per game against these foes. When his offensive line failed to dominate the line of scrimmage, Kelly’s offense fell apart.

Philadelphia doesn’t exactly have a dominant offensive line, and, even if they did, NFL defensive lines will still be able to better disrupt the offense than the overmatched college foes Kelly is used to.

Finally, the one chance Kelly might have had at some early success is novelty. Teams will often struggle against what they’re not used to or prepared for, which helps explain the magical second-half ride for Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos in 2011. Unfortunately for Kelly, many offenses have been incorporating the read-option lately, and defensive coaches are taking note, going to to . And the New England Patriots have incorporated some of Oregon’s up-tempo approach in recent years, so defenses will not be caught off guard by that either.

Defense

Kelly’s system at Oregon required outstanding depth, as they played extremely fast on both offense and defense. Instead of overtaxing the same players, Kelly used frequent substitutions. On defense, he was notorious for basically playing 22 starters instead of the normal 11, as they gave the first and second strings almost equal playing time to enable their personnel to go all-out without having to worry about conserving energy.

This approach can work in college for teams that recruit enough good athletes, but is not possible in the NFL, where everyone is limited by a salary cap and wants their best players on the field as much as possible. Now it is entirely possible that , will run a more conventional defense. He does, after all, have an NFL background, and has never worked with Kelly before. But the point remains that Chip Kelly will have to adapt his systems to account for a lack of the quality depth he was used to at Oregon.

Chip Kelly will not have the same depth in the NFL that he enjoyed at Oregon.

Chip Kelly will not have the same depth in the NFL that he enjoyed at Oregon.

Conclusion

Hiring successful college coaches to run an NFL franchise is a boom-or-bust proposition, and the numbers suggest it is more likely to be bust than boom. I am confident that Chip Kelly will not help turn the odds at all. He brings with him an offensive system that is poorly designed for NFL-caliber defenses, and was hired by a team that does not appear to have the personnel to run his system.

Philadelphia made a huge mistake hiring Kelly. They should have looked for a quarterback-friendly coach to develop Nick Foles, who showed glimpses of being a franchise quarterback in his rookie season. Instead, they chose to hire a big.name guy who is a poor fit for their team.

But hey, at least he’ll generate buzz and sell tickets, right? Just don’t come crying to me when your quarterback of the future doesn’t get to play and develop and you’re looking for another coach in two years. You’ve been warned.

About the author

Jon Vander Woude enjoys writing in-depth analytical articles that examine statistical trends in the NFL offseason. He also covers the Chicago Bears beat for Water Cooler Sports. Despite growing up in Michigan, California, and Miami, he had the good fortune to be reared by a father who grew up in Chicago raised him to root for the Bears, Bulls, and Cubs. Feel free to write him at with any questions, comments, or suggestions for future columns. Connect with

613 comments
ScarletandCream
ScarletandCream

Percy Harvin's lack of confidence in Christian Ponder was final straw for Vikings

ScarletandCream
ScarletandCream

UFAs: WR Devin Aromashodu (5), OL Joe Berger (8), LB Jasper Brinkley (4), RB Jerome Felton (5), LB Erin Henderson (5), OL Phil Loadholt (4), LB Marvin Mitchell (6), S Jamarca Sanford (4), OL Geogg Schwartz (4), WR Jerome Simpson (5).

RFAs: 
CB A.J. Jefferson (3), OL Troy Kropog (3).

ERFA:

Key arrivals:

Key departures: Traded WR Percy Harvin to the Seahawks, March 11

reggiesnodeuce
reggiesnodeuce moderator

i swear there used to be posts..that arent old.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

I'm just going to stick around here since there aren't any new posts.

Joedirte
Joedirte

Tebow getting ready for the 2014 USFL season

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

Hey guys, is there a new post or something?

Green and Gold
Green and Gold moderator

Hey guys, is there a new post or something?

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

Jets signed David Garrard. Sorry, Sanchise.

Joedirte
Joedirte

  He might be their best QB.........

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

  I think he is. He looked OK when he wasn't injured in Miami.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

I'm going to make a bold prediction and claim that SOMEONE will take Victor Cruz from the Giants.

Or at least try to.

adambballn
adambballn

  If people are giving up 1st round picks for Harvin I think Cruz gets an offer from another team.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

  You've got teams like MIN and STL with two first rounders and a need at WR. It makes sense.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

   They wanted to, but he switched to using Tom Condon and they HATE Tom Condon.

Joedirte
Joedirte

   And the Pats make sense as well too.

___bp___
___bp___

I don't know what this means, but it happened:

Lions have placed the original-round restricted free agent tender on OT Jason Fox.

adambballn
adambballn

  If someone signs him they get a chance to match it and a draft pick from whatever round Fox was picked in.

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

Chris Kluwe is always so sarcastic...

Sad to see Percy go. Seattle's getting a great player.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

NOOOOOOOO!

Cardinals released RB Fozzy Whittaker

Joedirte
Joedirte

 Kermit and Gonzo are next

ScarletandCream
ScarletandCream

"Do I look like a man with a plan"?

Joedirte
Joedirte

 if that plan involves being a fluffer in gay pornos then yes you are a man with the plan

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Does Marcellus Wallace look like a bitch?

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

CBS is claiming that the Pats were going to try to steal away Victor Cruz from the Giants until he switched agents to Tom Condon.

Joedirte
Joedirte

  They still should try to steal him away because they dont want to see the Giants in the SB again

___bp___
___bp___

Caleb Hanie is on the market!!

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

It's only news when he ISN'T on the market.

Joedirte
Joedirte

  Who???

___bp___
___bp___ like.author.displayName 1 Like

  Please, allow me to remind you:

___bp___
___bp___

 Or, another way of stating it: the only thing between ATL and a SB appearance in 2010.  Had they beaten Godgers, that is.

reggiesnodeuce
reggiesnodeuce moderator

  


the next SB MVP thats who!

Joedirte
Joedirte

    So does he play with the Saints?