lEarlier tonight, news broke that Chip Kelly had been fired by the Eagles.
It’s an interesting decision, to say the least. Let’s take a look back at Kelly’s tenure in Philadelphia for some clues as to why this situation soured.
Way back in 2013, Kelly took over as head coach of the Eagles. Philadelphia was coming off a 4-12 season under the stewardship of Andy Reid and the team wanted a change and Kelly provided it.
In 2012, the Eagles’s pass/run ratio was 1.50. After Kelly’s arrival, it dropped all the way down to 1.01 in 2013. In addition to making LeSean McCoy owners in fantasy football incredibly happy, this approach helped the Eagles win the NFC East with a record of 10-6, although they lost to the Saints in the Wild Card Round, 26-24.
2014 was much of the same, with another successful offensive season producing another 10-6 season. However, Philadelphia missed the playoffs, so the season wasn’t considered to be a complete success.
After the season, Kelly took control of the player personnel department, allowing him to run the Eagles the way he saw fit. Over the course of the offseason, Kelly made a number of puzzling decisions, from signing Byron Maxwell to a big contract, to letting Jeremy Maclin go to Kansas City, to signing two running backs to contracts worth a combined $52 million. Despite all of these questionable moves, Eagles fans continued to repeat the mantra “In Chip We Trust”.
As it turns out, perhaps they shouldn’t have been so trusting. Philadelphia has been subpar, and a loss to Washington last Saturday night clinched a losing season.
Now that we have some context, we need to ask: Should the Eagles have fired Chip Kelly?
The answer, as it is so often, is unclear. Even with this poor 2015 season, Kelly’s record as Philadelphia’s head coach is still a solid 26-21. It’s surprising to see a coach with so much early success get fired as quickly as Kelly.
Kelly is clearly a very good coach; the problems started when he took over the player personnel department. If the Eagles just took away that power and kept him as the head coach, that would seemingly solve the problem.
Of course, it’s never that simple. Once you promote someone, you can’t ever demote them without ruining the relationship. Likewise, the Eagles can’t get rid of Kelly as the director of player personnel without also getting rid of him as head coach.
There’s now an opportunity for other teams to swoop in and hire Kelly because they can hire him just to coach without having to hand him control of personnel too.
Philadelphia was stuck in a bind, and they made the right choice. Having Kelly in charge of personnel was clearly not going to work, so even though he’s a great coach, he had to go.
This article can also be found at Jock Journal.