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.