Tag Archives: Chip Kelly

Did Eagles Make Correct Decision Releasing Chip Kelly?

After only three years as head coach, the Philadelphia Eagles “released” Chip Kelly on Tuesday night.  What is most interesting, however, is that the team and media used “released” instead of “fired.”  Was the separation mutual?  Did Chip Kelly want to leave Philadelphia?  Or, did Eagles owner Jeffrie Lurie realize that Chip Kelly was taking the team in the wrong direction, and he wanted to release Kelly before things got worse?

One thing is for certain: Kelly’s role as general manager for the Eagles organization was getting in the way of Kelly’s role as head coach, and that situation had to change.

In Lurie’s first news conference since releasing Chip Kelly, he said that he “did not offer the opportunity for Kelly to be coach but not have control of the personnel.”  Therefore, Lurie was also not satisfied with how Kelly was coaching the team, too, even though limiting Kelly’s power as general manager was a primary factor.

The decision to release Kelly was based both on bad coaching and bad general manager decisions Kelly made.  Lurie said the decision to release Kelly was a “clear and important decision,” and, in making the decision he used a “three-year evaluation,” asking, “what’s the trajectory” before stating, “the end result was mediocrity.”

Lurie also stated that he wants “a collaborative approach between coaching and personnel.”  Releasing Chip Kelly was the only way to fix both problems simultaneously as the team had nowhere to go but down with Chip Kelly as head coach going forward.

The fact that Chip Kelly got rid of talented players and did not replace them with adequate talent is one of the major issues for Eagles fans.  After all, the argument can be made that all Kelly had to do was tweak the defense while his offense exploded with efficiency during his first two years as head coach.

Now, the team is stuck with players like DeMarco Murray – removing him is expensive – and Kiko Alonso, who has done nothing this season but is most likely staying because Kelly traded LeSean McCoy for him in the offseason.

Kelly has left the the outside receiver position in shambles, and that mistake could take years to fix.  Riley Cooper should not be on the team.  Josh Huff has shown nothing to prove he can be an elite receiver in this league.  Nelson Agholor had a bad year, and, although it is too soon to adequately judge him, he seems to have a long way to go.

In addition, the team is stuck with an unresolved question at quarterback.  Sam Bradford does not seem to be the player who will take the Eagles far into the playoffs – if he can even get into the playoffs at all – and, regardless of what happens, Philadelphia lost a second-round draft pick in this year’s draft to acquire him.  With Kelly’s poor draft choices in the past considered, the pick may not have been too important before the firing; however, the new coach may have been able to do something effective with that second-round pick.

Will the new coach even want to keep Sam Bradford, who is free to leave in free agency at the end of the season?  If the answer is no, the Eagles would be worse off for letting another player go with little to no compensation in return, again.  Therefore, after looking at Chip Kelly’s personnel moves, the team is much better off without him.

Looking at him from the coaching perspective, moreover as an offensive-minded coach, further explains why his release is a good decision for the team.  The offense’s production has decreased every year since his first year, and the blame focuses directly on Kelly for getting rid of the Eagles core offensive playmakers during his first two years.  He believed his gimmicky scheme was better than talent.  He was wrong.

As a result, he is leaving the team in a much worse state now than than when he became head coach just three years ago, and it is amazing that it only took three years to set the Eagles on a rebuilding phase that could take years to complete.

Under that undeniable fact, finding a reason why he should still be head coach is extremely difficult.

He was not a personable coach to his players or the majority of people around him, so, when the hard times came and losses started rolling in, he didn’t have relationships built with players that he could use to turn things around.  As reported by Phialdelphia media, few hugs and teary-eyed conversations between players and Chip have occurred before or after the release, and, since he was fired after practice on Tuesday, the timing of his firing and the lack of players surrounding him in that moment represents how awkward he was at communicating to his players.

The team checked out on him.

This situation represents how giving too much power too quickly before receiving adequate results can hurt a team for years in advance.  He took a 4-12 team and turned them into a 10-6 team in his first season but lost his first – and only – playoff game, and the team steadily regressed from that point onward.  He should not have been given total power based on those results alone.

Now, Eagles fans have to hope that the next coach can better utilize the players Kelly brought in and somehow get around a massive rebuilding process.  In addition, the firing means that Howie Roseman is moving back to a more powerful role in personnel decisions again.  Is that good or bad?  He has made some good and bad decisions in the past, but, at the least, he will be an improvement over Kelly.   Who wouldn’t be an improvement over Kelly as general manager?

Eagles fans can celebrate now because they have their team back after the tyrannical rule of Chip Kelly has ended.  Most Philadelphia fans seem shocked – considering the timing – but pleased by the overall decision.  While listening to Philadelphia sports radio after the firing, no one seems upset, and, instead, a mass celebration rides the airwaves of Philadelphia.

One thing is for certain: the Eagles are in a much better situation without Chip Kelly as head coach.

Questions/Comments? @sean__cumming

Philadelphia Eagles: Do Bold Coaching Moves Equal Permanent Changes?

DeMarco Murray had a clear-cut demotion against the Patriots, and Darren Sproles, along with ex-Oregon Duck Kenjon Barner, saw an increase in rushing attempts.  Sproles had 15 attempts, while Barner had 9, and Murray had 8.

Chip Kelly said the reason for Murray’s demotion was because the Patriots have a “big group of linebackers.”  The logic in that statement, according to Kelly, is that Sproles (5-9 190 pounds) and Barner (5-9 195 pounds) have an easier time evading “big linebackers” than Murray (6-foot 217 pounds) because they are smaller and more elusive.  Sproles and Barner combined for 105 yards rushing, so the strategy worked, but they will be playing smaller linebackers going forward.  Will the scheme change accordingly?  That Murray is not a great fit for the Eagles offense is becoming clear, so it will be interesting to see if he continues to see declining snaps going forward.

Murray finished the game with 24 yards, but, take away one 19-yard run, and he had five yards on his other seven carries.  He has not scored a touchdown in the last four games, has just 54 yards rushing over the past two weeks, and has just one 100+ yard rushing game this season.  Will Murray’s declining attempts become an ongoing trend?

The wide-receiver position was also in flux during the Patriots game.  Chip Kelly benched Miles Austin – and released him today – and rookie Jermaine Krause saw increased snaps in the game.  Krause had one catch for four yards, but he presents an interesting prospect for a team that needs improved performance from their wide receivers desperately right now.  The Eagles receivers underperformed as a whole against the Patriots – like most of the season: Riley Cooper (1 reception, 14 yards), Brent Celek (1 reception, 16 yards), Nelson Agholor (0 receptions, 0 yards), Josh Huff (0 receptions, 0 yards), Zach Ertz (2 receptions, 9 yards, 1 TD), Jordan Matthews (3 receptions, 36 yards, 1 TD).  Darren Sproles’ four receptions were the most on the team.

The Eagles need to start using Sproles, who had 100 all-purpose yards against the Patriots, to cover up for bad performances by the Eagles wide receivers more frequently.  Sitting Austin against the Patriots – and then releasing him today – was a small step towards fixing the problem, but the team needs to continue getting Sproles more involved in the passing game.

The defensive line and linebacker positions have continued to be an ever-revolving transition as the season goes along, yet the Eagles pressured Tom Brady frequently Sunday.  In relation, Vinny Curry saw an increase in snaps, playing 55 of 89 defensive snaps (62 percent).  He played 21 percent of snaps against the Lions and 19 percent against the Buccaneers (both 45-point losses), and he had not previously played more than 42 percent of defensive snaps all season before Sunday.

The change was based partly on scheme, with the Eagles playing dime and nickel to combat the three-receiver sets used frequently by the Patriots, and partly because Bennie Logan is nursing a knee injury.  Anyway, Curry has a knack for pressuring the quarterback, and, even though he did not get a sack Sunday, his performance helped the Eagles get four sacks against Tom Brady (two by Connor Barwin and two by Brandon Graham) and maintain constant pressure on the quarterback.  The team would be wise to use Curry more frequently in the future.

At inside linebacker, Kiko Alonso played 79 percent of the defensive snaps, second-most among linebackers on the team.  He had more snaps than last year’s starting inside linebackers combined: Mychal Kendricks (54 percent) and DeMeco Ryans (24 percent).  Linebacker Brandon Graham (75 percent) also played more snaps than Ryans and Kendricks.  Alonso has seen wavering amounts of snaps recently (69 percent vs. Tampa Bay, 57 percent vs. Detroit), so it will be interesting to see if he gets on the field more often going forward.

The changes Kelly made worked well yesterday, but the question now is if he will stick with the positive changes going forward.  Will he make more?  Will he go back to what he has done before?  Who knows? Only time will tell, but, at least, he would be wise to use more of Sproles and Curry.

Questions/Comments?  @sean__cumming

Chip Kelly Just Needed To Remodel The Eagles Defense

All Chip Kelly had to do was tweak the defense.  He inherited the offense of a previously 4-12 team, and he used them to create two consecutive 10-6 seasons.  He even made the playoffs in his first year at head coach, and few coaches can create such a drastic turnaround.

The Eagles had LeSean McCoy, the Eagles all-time leading rusher, whom Kelly was able to convert into the league’s leading rusher in his first season as head coach.  They had DeSean Jackson, who could stretch the field so uniquely that he mandated that safeties play deep to respect his abilities.

Routes all around the field could be exploited by Eagles receivers with Jackson keeping the secondary guessing on the perimeter and moving defensemen.  McCoy, as a result, had more area to run through with the secondary positioned down the field to account for Jackson, and receivers running routes in the middle of the field had more room to run and better matchups against linebackers.

No current wide receiver – Riley Cooper, Josh Huff, Jordan Matthews, Miles Austin, or Nelson Agholor – is even close to being the same threat as DeSean Jackson in 2013.

The offensive line was a cohesive group of players who played well together.  Chip even used his first overall draft pick for Lane Johnson – the only offensive lineman he has drafted – to improve the line immediately.  Jason Peters was in the peak of his career; Jason Kelce was proving to be a quickly developing center, and Evan Mathis had a Pro Bowl year.

Mathis, one of the least discussed subtractions in this year’s offseason, is desperately missed on the offensive line.

All Kelly had to do was make some alterations to the defense.  The offense ranked fourth in the league in points scored in 2013 and third in 2014.  They were trending upward.  The offense needed to add some players to improve, sure, but the Jackson, Maclin, McCoy, and Mathis combination should have been left alone.

It is a shame that Kelly was never able to use the duo of Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson on the field together because current circumstances may have turned out differently.  Maclin missed the whole 2013 season due to injury, and Jackson was released at the end of the 2013 season.  Before both of them were released (for nothing in return!), Jackson had 1,332 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns in 2013, and Maclin had 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014.

Fans can only imagine what the two receivers could have done in tandem in Chip Kelly’s offense.  Maybe if Kelly could have used the two together, he would have realized that all he had to do to make the Eagles successful was to fix the defense.

Instead, Kelly chose to get rid of Jackson, Maclin, and McCoy, and he kept Riley Cooper.  What was he thinking?  if there’s one player on the offense who should have been released over the past two years, Cooper is the first name that pops into my mind – especially with the unnecessarily generous salary he was given.  He could have remained on the team if Jackson and Maclin were the main receivers, but he does not have the skill set to be the main receiver.  His production has taken a predictable downward slide since the team released Jackson.

All Chip Kelly had to do was remodel the defense.  While the offense ranked 4th and 3rd in 2013 and 2014 in points, it ranked 17th and 22nd in points allowed.  The differential, the difference between points scored and points allowed, ranked 9th in 2013 and 8th in 2014.  Clearly, the offense was making up for the shortcomings of the defense.

Chip Kelly really just needed to fix the secondary, for the starting defensive linemen and linebackers have not changed too much from Andy Reid’s team.  He should have made fixing the secondary the top priority in his first season, for, when he finally rebuilt the secondary, the defense was the best part of the team in the beginning of the year.  However, since Kelly deleted his offensive talent from his first two seasons without adding suitable replacements, this year’s offense could not capitalize on good defensive play.

Kelly has sent this team into a rebuilding phase on offense that could take years to fix, and he is in his third year as head coach.  Now is the time when he should be utilizing a playoff-ready team after two 10-6 seasons.  He will not be given much more leeway if he keeps making poor decisions as a general manager.  However, the scenario could have been avoided if he just stuck with the talent he had on offense and made a couple tweaks to the defense.

Questions/Comments?  @sean__cumming

Chip Kelly Is Not Drafting Enough Offensive Talent

The Eagles have drafted six offensive players and 15 defensive players in the three years since Chip Kelly has been head coach, while 17 teams have drafted twice as many offensive players during Kelly’s three years with the team.  What is more concerning, though, is that the majority of players he’s drafted on offense are not playing near the level of the elite players at their positions.  Let’s look at Kelly’s offensive draft picks:

1. Nelson Agholor:  He was the only offensive player selected in the 2015 draft for the Eagles, and the team drafted five defensive players, of which only Jordan Hicks has had a substantial contribution.  The final three players – JaCory Shepard, Randall Evans, and Brian Mihalik – didn’t survive the preseason roster cuts, so the team is left with Agholor as the sole contributor of the rookie class after Hicks suffered a season-ending injury.  However, Agholor has fallen desperately short of filling in for Jeremy Maclin or becoming a dominant outside receiver.  He has not had more than six targets or three receptions in a single game.  He has not had more than 64 receiving yards in a game.  His 11 receptions for 137 yards for the season are what an elite receiver can produce in one game, and I wrote the same statement last week when he had 105 yards for the season.  He’s a rookie, sure, but he’s making Chip Kelly’s offseason roster changes over the past two years look unacceptable right now.

2. Jordan Matthews:  It’s tough to run an offense’s passing game primarily through a slot receiver, but that’s what the Eagles are trying to do after Kelly got rid of their best outside receivers, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, in consecutive years – while keeping the perpetually underperforming Riley Cooper on the team.  Matthews, a 2014 second-round pick, is the best receiver Kelly has drafted, but he has not worked as effectively this year after the team released Maclin.  Matthews is on pace to outdo his 67 receptions for 872 yards last year with 552 yards and 51 receptions this season, but he has only two touchdowns compared to eight last season.  And he was the No.2 receiver with No. 2 receiving statistics last year but is now being counted on to be the top receiver.  Once again, It’s tough to run an effective offense primarily through a slot receiver.  Chip Kelly will learn this by the end of the year.

3. Josh Huff:  Huff, a 5-11, 206-pound 2014 third-round pick, breaks the mold of Kelly’s fondness for players with big frames.  Huff goes against the big-people-beat-up-on-little-people philosophy Kelly likes to declare works in his system.  Since Huff was drafted the year after Kelly let DeSean Jackson go – and he has a similar frame to the 5-10, 178-pound Redskin wide receiver – the general thinking was that he could fill Jackson’s role, even though Jackson totaled 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns the year before Kelly released him.  Instead, Huff has come no where near filling in for Jackson (or Maclin, if you want to compare him to Maclin, too).  Huff has not been the deep threat like Jackson or Maclin at outside receiver, and he disappears on the field all together so often you forget he’s on the team until he catches a random touchdown like he has twice this year.  He has 26 receptions for 272 yards and two touchdowns since being drafted two years ago.  The Eagles should have released Riley Cooper and used the money they paid him to re-sign Maclin.  In addition, Kelly should have kept Jackson because Huff and Agholor are not suitable replacements right now.

4. Lane Johnson:  Lane Johnson is arguably the best offensive draft pick Kelly has made.  He has held the right guard spot well since he took the position and has shifted to left tackle to fill in for Jason Peters over the past two weeks.  He has not missed a game (besides a four-game suspension last year) in the 2 1/2 years he’s been with the team, and, if he gets injured, the team will be in real trouble regarding the severe lack of experience from three out of the five starters currently on the offensive line.

5. Zach Ertz:  Ertz, a 2013 second-round pick, did not play many snaps at the beginning of the season because he had trouble with his blocking technique, and he was used most often when the Eagles were behind in games.  He has been a good player for the team, but he is nowhere near the top-tier tight ends this season, including Rob Gronkowski, Gary Barnidge, Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker, or Tyler Eifert.  He ranks 14th in receiving yards and, despite being tied for 9th in targets and 14th in receptions among tight ends, has zero touchdowns.  He’s had time to define a role for himself on the team, yet he is falling short of being identified with the top tight ends in the league, even after the Eagles released so many offensive players in this offseason.  His competition from Celek is still present, and he doesn’t appear ready to take the lead role away any time soon.

6. Matt Barkley: The 2013 fourth-round pick was cut in the offseason.

So, four of the six draft picks with Kelly were at a receiving position, and what’s the Eagles’ biggest weakness this season?  Wide receiver.  There’s a direct correlation.  The Eagles struggled long enough in the early part of the Andy Reid era with sub-par wide receivers, and, after he finally drafted Pro-Bowl receivers, they were discarded for some now post-dated, uselessly philosophical scheme.  Kelly needs to focus on getting talent and playing them before this failing scheme destroys the team.

Qusetions/comments?  @sean__cumming

Philadelphia Eagles: Pressing Questions For The Bye Week

The Eagles (3-4) enter the bye week with several pressing questions after a deflating loss to the Carolina Panthers.  What should the Eagles be asking themselves?

1.  Who is making the running-back decisions?

So, Chip Kelly has control of just about everything the Eagles do, from general-manager duties to playcalling on game day – except, of course, the running back rotation?  …Really?  How did that decision work out?  How and why does someone who wants so much control within this organization allow another person to decide his running-back rotation?  The question is pressing because the Eagles coaching staff made several controversial decisions regarding their running-back rotation – specifically the use of Ryan Matthews – against the Panthers.

In the second quarter, Matthews had a great 22-yard run, but he was not used again until 20 plays afterwards.  Then, in the third quarter, Matthews once again breathed life into the Eagles struggling offense by scampering around the defense for a 63-yard touchdown run, the Eagles only seven-point conversion of the night.  However, after sparking the offense, giving it some semblance of momentum, he had just one carry the rest of the night.  That’s right, one!  What were they thinking?

When Chip Kelly was asked why Matthews did not receive the ball more, his first answer was that ex-Eagles running back Duce Staley, now the running-backs coach for the team, is in charge of setting the rotation, effectively shifting the blame for not utilizing Matthews away from himself.

Ok, well, in that case, then, what is Staley thinking?  After Matthews’ 63-yard touchdown run, the Eagles had the ball on the 13-yard line for their next drive, but, once again, they didn’t look towards Matthews and instead ran the ball three times with DeMarco Murray for a grand total of one yard.

Later, Kelly offered another reason for underutilizing Matthews, stating that Matthews hurt his groin on the 22-yard run prior to his 63-yard touchdown run.  Whatever the truth is, fans are trying to figure out what’s really going on with the backfield, and the team is going to have to look into how it utilizes its three running backs during the bye.

Will Matthews get more carries after resting his stated injury during the bye week?  It’s impossible to know what Chip is thinking.  However, the real question is why a coach so intent on having final decisions in just about everything is letting someone else decide the running-back rotation.

2.  What is the cause of all these penalties?

Penalties destroyed any chance the Eagles had to build momentum in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Panthers. In the first half alone, they had six penalties for 41 yards, and most of them were costly.  Lane Johnson had a false-start penalty that gave them a 3rd-and-11 to convert on their first drive of the night.  Najee Goode had a 15-yard personal-foul penalty on a Panthers kickoff return that moved the Panthers from the 13-yard line to the 28, and the Panthers scored a touchdown on that drive.  Jason Kelce negated a crucial 10-yard run by DeMarco Murray while the offense was struggling to build cohesion at the beginning of the game.  Two consecutive encroachment penalties by Bennie Logan moved the Panthers from 2nd-and-goal from eight yards away to 2nd-and-goal on the two, and Cam Newton easily ran the ball in from two yards away.  Caleb Sturgis’ illegal-procedure penalty from kicking the ball out of bounds on another kickoff gave the Panthers an opportunity to start that drive on their own 40-yard line.  Sam Bradford and Co. almost had a delay-of-game penalty in the second half that made them use a timeout they sorely could have used when attempting to make a comeback at the end of the game.

Whether the penalties are due to careless mistakes or the outcome of bad coaching is what the Eagles need to figure out – quick! They cannot be as penalty-prone when they come out of the bye.

3.  Why is Jordan Matthews dropping so many balls?

Jordan Matthews has dropped six passes in 7 games, and many of them have come in crucial moments.  Les Bowen, Eagles sports writer for the Daily News, recently wrote in an article that “Jordan Matthews suffered a hand ligament injury three weeks ago.”  He also wrote that “fans who met Matthews at a recent appearance said his hand was swollen, and he did not shake hands.”  If this is the case, I wish the team would let fans know because it’s getting frustrating to watch the dropped balls without really knowing what’s going on behind the scenes.  Matthews’ snap counts have dropped significantly in the past two weeks, and that factor could be a telling sign of an undisclosed injury, too.  Whatever the cause, though, this team needs to come out of the bye with an answer for all the dropped balls.

4.  Why are the Eagles not capitalizing on turnovers?

The Eagles lead the league in takeaways with 19, and they have three consecutive games with three turnovers, an amazing feat that should equal more than three wins in seven weeks.  Moreover, against the Panthers, three separate players in the secondary had an interception.  Nolan Carroll stripped the ball from Ted Ginn for an interception early in the game.  Malcolm Jenkins’ interception with one minute, five seconds left in the second quarter gave the Eagles the ball on their 40-yard line with a chance to score before halftime.  Byron Maxwell had a great interception off a deflected ball that he took 25 yards to the Panthers’ 18-yard line.  However, the Eagles could do no better than two field goals off their opportunistic takeaways.  The defense cannot keep bailing out the offense without the offense putting in it’s share if the Eagles want to go anywhere this season.

5.  How long will kicker Caleb Sturgis remain on the team?

Sturgis had another mediocre day kicking against the Panthers.  He started the game out completing a 52-yard field goal, but, on the following kickoff, he booted the ball out of bounds, a blunder that gave Carolina the opportunity to start their drive on the 40-yard line.  He converted three of four field goals in the contest, but he missed a crucial 50-yard kick in the fourth quarter that would have made the score 19-21 with 11 minutes, 58 seconds left in the game.  The other aggravating factor about the failed field goal is that, before Sturgis’ miss, Bradford called a timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty.  Therefore, they wasted their timeout for zero points from a missed field goal.  Sure, losing the timeout wasn’t Sturgis’ fault, but his lack of consistency has to make the Eagles at least look at finding someone else to kick when they come out of the bye.  A more consistent kicker has to be out there somewhere.

Questions/Comments?  Follow me: @sean__cumming or email at: seancumming3@gmail.com