This Chip Kelly guy sure is something, isn't he?
On January 4th, 2013, the Cleveland Browns were reportedly close to striking a deal with Kelly for him to be the team's next head coach. It seemed like a sure thing, and that something could be announced as soon as the next day. By the end of the night on January 5th, 2013, things heated up, and it sounded like the Philadelphia Eagles were major suitors for Kelly's services as well.
On the morning of January 6th, 2013, the Browns reportedly "walked away" and took their offer off the table. Who could blame them? Reports had come out that Kelly was basically headed back to Oregon, and that he had stiffed a pair of NFL teams, much like he did with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a season earlier.
The Browns moved on and focused their efforts on coaches with more NFL experience. They ultimately loved the sales pitch made by Rob Chudzinski, and named him their new head coach on January 10th, 2013. It sounded like the Eagles had moved on with their coaching search too, bringing in anyone and everyone to try and find the next best fit for their organization.
Today, seemingly out of no where, the Eagles announced that they had hired Kelly as their next head coach. This was a full ten days after the Browns had given up on their pursuit of Kelly. Our Eagles affiliate, who has been very busy covering the team's coaching search, was just as surprised as everyone else about the news:
Well this came out of nowhere... After spurning the team about a week ago and announcing he would return to college, Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly has reportedly had a change of heart and accepted the head coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles. The news was confirmed by the team just moments ago.
"Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles," said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. "He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh energetic approach to our team."
There has been a lot said about Kelly and how he handled the interview process this year. Those reports may or may not all be true. I will speak on the assumption that they give an accurate representation of how Kelly handled things:
- Would I want Kelly as my head coach over Chudzinski? I was never in awe over Kelly. I was intrigued by him potentially bringing an innovative offensive approach to the NFL, but that doesn't guarantee success.
- I am of the belief that the hiring of first-time head coaches can't really be judged until you see the type of job they do. That's why I preferred a new coach over someone like Ken Whisenhunt or even Lovie Smith, who I felt I already had a grasp of their approach.
- On the same note, first-time head coaches need to have shown some redeeming qualities with the team(s) they have been with. That's why the Pat Shurmur hiring was so puzzling. I can get on board with Chudzinski or Kelly; Kelly gave the impression that he was headed back to Oregon, and the Browns moved on.
- According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, here is how Kelly-to-Philly came about:
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com helped fill in the details. The Eagles learned at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday they had Kelly for sure. A team source told Rapoport that GM Howie Roseman was the biggest factor, playing the last ten days "incredibly. ... No one was more prepared and aggressively pursued."
The approach was similar to what a college coach would use for recruiting. Push, push, push, know when to pull away and give them time to think. The Eagles continued to sell Kelly on the people in their organization, even after he turned them down. They told Kelly he would remain their top priority even as they interviewed other candidates. They had previously sold to Kelly that they had two quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Nick Foles) that could run his system.
- I don't fault Jimmy Haslam or Joe Banner in the least for how they handled things. NFL teams don't need to go and beg/stalk coaches until they say "yes." That isn't the norm for hiring coaches, and the Browns were 100% justified in moving on. Were coaches afraid of the mystique/potential power that Banner might have held over them? Since when did it become a mandatory requirement that new head coaches have full control over everything?
- If there is anyone in the wrong about how they handled this situation, it's Kelly. Whether he volunteered to or not, he turned this into another "Decision," and that doesn't gel too good with me. He was reportedly still recruiting guys two days ago -- doesn't that lead you to believe he was staying at Oregon? He had the power to say, "yes" any time to an NFL team, and yet he stringed people along. Oregon already put out a job posting for their head coaching position. This guy could easily succeed, or he could fail like no other and immediately go crawling back to the college ranks as soon as possible. Until he proves something, he doesn't need to be put on a pedestal.
Haslam said he cares about the bottom line; he used such a reference in comparing Chudzinski's success with the Panthers over the past two years to that of the Browns' success. The answer to how Browns fans should react to Chudzinski vs. Kelly at this point in time is this: evaluate how each coach has done by the end of the 2013-2014 season with their "bottom line results." One year doesn't define a coach, but both teams were in the dumps last season and are looking to make a quick turnaround. Who gets there faster will be a question that lingers between these two cities for awhile; I hope everyone is ready for the ride.