The experiment between Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles is over. The team announced Tuesday evening that he had been fired.
As we wait to see if the NFL is willing to open their arms to Kelly again – I bet he’d love to go coach his old player Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. Or if a return to the college ranks- where he won’t be coaching grown men with bank accounts that are equal or more than his – let’s look back at exactly what went wrong in Philly.
It’s rare in today’s day in age for a coach to take on the role of General Manager if their name isn’t Bill Belichick. That didn’t stop Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie from giving the keys of the organization to Chip Kelly in the offseason so that he could bring in players to fit his system. Based on the results of this season, Kelly failed miserably in acquiring talent that fits his system and locker room culture.
The Quarterback Trade:
One of Kelly’s first moves was to trade for quarterback Sam Bradford, a former first-round pick of the Rams who had shown flashes of potential in his injury plagued seasons. Bradford hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been great either. His receivers have dropped some balls that could inflate his numbers, but he still has only posted a 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio, and has not shown great ability to throw the ball downfield and stretch defenses. Add all of this to the fact that Bradford couldn’t stay completely healthy and Kelly’s big trade doesn’t look too great. The one redeeming factor for Chip in this trade is that the player he traded, Nick Foles, was benched by the quarterback starved St. Louis Rams.
Well I tried to tell you before the game Saturday that the game meant much more to Chip then anything. Philly is about playoff wins. Fired
— Donovan McNabb (@donovanjmcnabb) December 30, 2015
The Free Agents:
Out of all of his offseason moves, Chip Kelly made two big splashes in free agency, one on each side of the ball. On offense, Demarco Murray was brought in to replace LeSean McCoy and provide more of a power running game. Murray has been a shell of his former self, dropping his yards per carry by over 1 yard, and failing to look like the back he did a year ago in Dallas. The Eagles were able to steal him away from a division rival, but it looks like Dallas made the correct choice in not overpaying Murray after over working him last season. On defense, Philadelphia sorely needed to upgrade their secondary, so they went out and paid big money to Byron Maxwell. Maxwell has definitely been an upgrade, but as a number one corner he should be doing more as a player who signed a 6-year, 63 million dollar deal.
— Michael Irvin (@michaelirvin88) December 30, 2015
Not Upgrading the Line:
Perhaps the boldest move by Chip Kelly this offseason was cutting guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans without drafting or acquiring suitable replacements. Allen Barbre and Andrew Gardner took on the task of replacing the two veterans, and have not held up well. Their run blocking has been a major reason that Murray’s yards per carry are down this year, as he, and the rest of the backs, are constantly being hit in the backfield for negative yards. They are also one of the reasons that the Eagles quarterbacks have been sacked 27 times this season. With an injury prone quarterback in Sam Bradford, upgrading the offensive line should have been a key priority for the Eagles, but instead it was neglected and has been detrimental to the running and passing game.
Inability to Draft:
Philadelphia’s last two first round picks have not added much value to the team, and it is clearly hurting them. First rounders are supposed to be players that can be plugged in and played right away, however both Marcus Smith and Nelson Agholor have had little or no impact. Smith has barely played and is looking more and more like a bust each week. Agholor has shown flashes, but like the rest of the Philly receivers, he has been prone to critical drops. Sixteen receptions and zero touchdowns simply isn’t enough for a first round pick, especially on a team that is as receiver deprived as Philadelphia.
As the Eagles sit in the NFC East basement, they can look back on their inability to draft and replace players as the main reasons their season has failed. The blame falls on the GM and in this case that was coach Chip Kelly.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie wrote in a released statement Tuesday:
“I spent the last three seasons evaluating the many factors involved in our performance as a team. As I watched this season unfold, I determined that it was time to make a change.”
Kelly amassed a 26-21 record in his time with the Eagles, but the Birds stumbled to a 6-9 record through the first 15 games of the 2015 season after coming into the year with sky-high expectations.
“We appreciate all the contributions that Chip Kelly made and wish him every success going forward,”
Along with Kelly, the Eagles have also fired vice president of player personnel Ed Marynowitz. Tom Donahoe will take over as senior director of player personnel.
I wonder if USC is feeling froggy with their new football head coach hire.