Jeffrey Lurie dropped the axe on Chip Kelly Tuesday evening. Hallelujah Merry Christmas! (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
If you follow this blog, you know I’ve been down on Chip Kelly since he was hired three years ago. (Need proof? Here.) I’ve been pining for Kelly’s firing the moment Lurie handed him the keys to player personnel. Still, I was shocked Kelly was let go midweek. In fact, I accepted Kelly would be back next year, so his firing at all was a welcomed surprise.
Before we go on praising Santa Clause Jeffrey Lurie, let’s remember it was Lurie that handed Chip Kelly the keys to the castle. As you can see, I cringed the moment the announcement was made:
Still, Lurie thought it a wise decision. (Oops.) At least we can credit Lurie for folding a losing hand rather than going for bust to see the river card.
While the decision has received overwhelming approval, there are those that think Kelly got a raw deal. Back-to-back 10 win seasons and one down year shouldn’t get a coach fired. What have you been watching? The Eagles have progressively gotten worse since Week 14 last year. The offense from that point all the way through the 2015 season was a shell of its 2013 self. The defense never ranked higher than 28th in the league during Kelly’s reign. As I mentioned countless times before, Kelly doesn’t beat playoff teams. Regardless, Kelly’s record was only a small reason he was fired.
Kelly lost the locker room. Remember earlier this season when I mentioned how Andy Reid always protected his players? They were his family. He’d handle discipline outside of the media’s spotlight. While we hated him for it, his players loved him for taking those bullets. It’s why they rallied countless times in December. It’s why the Kansas City Chiefs are in the playoffs after a 1-5 start. Players don’t quit on Reid. Chip Kelly, on the other hand? Well, he threw his players under the bus at every opportunity. “If we made field goals.” “If we caught the ball.” “If we executed better.” “If we blah blah blah.” It’s no coincidence players have turned on Kelly. Derrick Gunn of Comcast Sportsnet even reported that players were glad to hear Chip was fired but also believed it was overdue.
Essentially, Kelly avoided responsibility whenever possible. This past Monday Kelly even backed away from having control over personnel decisions. Chip Kelly is the guy that sets off fireworks in the house and then blames the fireworks for burning the place to the ground.
Speaking of responsibility – and this is reason numero uno why Chip was fired – Kelly was a disaster as a personnel guy. The DeSean Jackson mess was hysterically mismanaged. The Sam Bradford and LeSean McCoy trades were both huge losses for the Eagles. Cutting reliable veterans and consistently poor drafts were also common mistakes for Kelly. Put it this way, in his three NFL drafts, Kelly added only six steady contributors to the Eagles roster (Johnson, Ertz and Logan in ’13, Matthews in ’14, Rowe and Hicks in ’15). In 2012 alone, the Andy Reid regime selected five contributors (Cox, Kendricks, Curry, Boykin and Foles).
Free agency wasn’t much better for Kelly. Aside from Connor Barwin and Malcolm Jenkins, Kelly’s free agent acquisitions went pear-shaped. Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Patrick Chung, Byron Maxwell, Miles Austin, DeMarco Murray, to name a few. In fact, parting ways with Kelly gives the Eagles their best shot at salvaging the DeMarco Murray contract.
If you’re still doubting the decision to fire Chip Kelly, look at this way: Chip Kelly took over a roster in 2013 bursting with young talent. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin were 26 and 25, respectively. LeSean McCoy was 25. Mychal Kendricks and Fletcher Cox were both 22. Combined with Pro Bowl veterans like Trent Cole and Jason Peters, that Eagles team Chip inherited was ready to win. In fact, that’s why Kelly took the job in the first place. He wanted a team ready to win as opposed to a rebuild. In less than three years, Kelly took that talent-laden roster and turned it into a rebuild with one moronic personnel move after another. Now the next coach of the Philadelphia Eagles will inherit a team deprived of talent, at least two seasons from legitimately contending, and likely requiring a complete rebuild.
For all the hoopla surrounding Chip’s “genius” and “progressive approach,” all he did was take the Eagles backwards.
Finally, this mess will be someone else’s to clean up.
Thank God for that.