It is amazing what a difference 24 hours can make. For the Philadelphia Eagles, it meant a transformation from the Keystone Cops to the talk of the National Football League. After botching bids to hire Brian Kelly and Bill O’Brien, being seemingly spurned by Chip Kelly and then publicly interviewing what felt like half the NFL, the Eagles were looking like a laughing stock. Then the sun came up on Wednesday, and in the blink of an eye one shocking development drastically altered everyone’s perception.
Philadelphia’s brain trust had somehow managed to persuade Oregon coach Chip Kelly to change his mind, leave college and come to the City of Brotherly Love. All of a sudden, the Eagles looked like Machiavellian geniuses who bided their time and landed the most sought after prize in the 2013 coaching derby.
In reality, what Wednesday’s development really did was turn the Birds into one of the NFL’s most anticipated teams.
Say what you will about Kelly, but the guy oozes excitement. His up-tempo, high-turbo style of offense was the most entertaining show in college football over the last decade. In four years as a head coach at Oregon, Kelly lost just seven times, went to a BCS title game, and won a Rose Bowl and a Fiesta Bowl. His Ducks averaged 49.6 points per game in 2012.
Kelly’s goal is to run a play every 13 seconds, and his pedal is always pushed all the way to the metal. He loves to go for it on fourth downs and try for two-point conversions. If you are unfamiliar with his bravado or his aggressive style, the best way to explain it is through the UPS commercial that he starred in.
If you’re an Eagles fan, watch that commercial and aren’t excited that Kelly is the head coach of your football team, I don’t know what to tell you.
Sure, he brings plenty of questions to the table. Kelly marks the first time the Eagles hired a head coach who had never played or coached professionally since 1935. There are many who are curious to see whether his innovative system will be able to bring about the same kind of success it generated at Oregon. He will not be able to overwhelm teams with speed like he did in college, because in the NFL, everyone is fast.
Even still, you get the feeling Kelly is going to try and accrue as many fast players as possible. That’s another reason why his new marriage with the Eagles is so intriguing. The Birds have plenty of speedy playmakers on offense. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy are pretty speedy building blocks for Kelly to construct his schemes around.
The biggest query surrounding the onset of the Kelly era, though, is what exactly he will do at quarterback. The Eagles drafted Nick Foles in the third round of last April’s draft and he showed some promise near the end of the season. But Kelly’s quarterbacks at Oregon have always been dual threats, capable of beating you with their arm and their legs.
Foles can’t outrun me in a footrace, so on the surface it seems like it would be an obvious decision to bring someone more athletic in to be Kelly’s signal caller. But dig deeper and you learn that Kelly was a huge admirer of Foles in college.
On September 24, 2011 Oregon beat Foles’ Arizona team 56-31, but Kelly could not help but rave about the Wildcats’ quarterback after the game.
“I’ll tell you what -- I’m glad Nick Foles is graduating,” Kelly told reporters covering the game, according to the Tucson Citizen newspaper. “I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes…Nick is a hell of a football player. That kid’s a warrior. He’s as good as anyone in the country.”
So, who knows. Maybe Kelly will rely less on a running quarterback and more on his up-tempo style to generate offensive success.
Only time will tell which direction Kelly will choose, but you have to be excited to find out. And at the end of the day, that’s what Kelly brings to the table. His hiring provides a shot of adrenaline for what had become a depressed fan base.
Kelly is exactly what the Eagles needed. What a difference a day can make.