Jan 17, 2013, 2:05 AM EDT
I tried to count the number of articles and clips that
used gambling analogies to describe the Eagles hiring Chip Kelly to head coach,
but before long I lost track. It seems there are a lot of people out there who
thinks this is either going to work, or it won’t.
That’s true of EVERYBODY. There are no sure things.
Listen, I understand the specific concerns with Kelly in
particular, and share many of them myself. He has zero pro experience as either
player or coach. He’s known for a style of spread offense that many people believe
amounts to nothing more than a gimmick at the NFL level. His philosophies are
But how is any other candidate less of a gamble?
Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, and Brian Billick have won Super
Bowls, but surely you are aware no head coach has ever hoisted the Lombardi
Trophy with two different teams. Gus Bradley and Mike McCoy were among the best
assistants in the league, but so were Norv Turner and Ken Whisenhunt at one
time or another. Andy Reid and Lovie Smith are solid head coaches, but by no
Whether it’s an NFL assistant or retread – even one who has
been to the mountain top – or somebody straight from the college ranks, there is
no way to predict success.
They all fail though. They all fail somewhere, eventually.
I admit it, the biggest thing I don’t like: no pro
experience. We’ve seen a long line of NCAA talents try to make the jump and not
just fail, but fail spectacularly. Some of them can’t even wait to be fired
before they run away.
But then what’s the difference between one or two abysmal
seasons – we’re talking of the Heath Evans’ “worst head coach in history”
variety – and the mediocre program that hovers around .500 for four or five
years, maybe sneaking into the playoffs once or twice? And to the Super
Bowl-or-bust folks, what’s the difference between either of those situations and what the
Eagles had with Reid the past 14 years?
Is hiring Chip any more or less of a gamble than, say, had Jeffrey
Lurie stuck with Andy for year number 15? At least you would know what you’re
getting, I guess.
As if knowing is somehow better. It’s not. More comforting,
maybe – maybe.
If the fear is Kelly could be a setback from which it takes
the Eagles years to recover, look around. The team went 4-12. They
haven’t won a playoff game since the ’08 season, not to mention lack an obvious franchise
quarterback or the apparent means to acquire one.
This organization can’t be setback much further than it is
already, other than in years – as in the length of time it winds up taking to rebuild
this mess. Considering Philly fans have been waiting over 50 years since the
city’s last NFL championship, I’d say years we’ve got.
Chip Kelly was no more a risk or gamble than anybody else. The
coaching world has seen it all: from the rise and fall of a perennial contender
under the same hand like what we witnessed under Reid, to a so-called
retread becoming one of the greatest coaches of all time in Bill Belichick. Or
if you’re searching for a related example, look no further than Jimmy Johnson
coming from Miami University to build a dynasty out of the Dallas Cowboys.
Not that anybody is comparing. At the end of the day though,
the devil is in the details. There are good head coaches and there are bad head
coaches, but in this league, when and whether any of them eventually achieve
success often depends on circumstances beyond just their name and pedigree.
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