Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why Chip Kelly Will Flourish With The Philadelphia Eagles

When Chip Kelly decided to become the Philadelphia Eagles head coach, he sent a shockwave through the NFL. Some experts praised the decision, while others had slightly less optimistic outlooks on the hire. Heath Evans, an NFL Network analyst, called the Chip Kelly hire, “one of the worst hires in pro football history,” while Tony Dungy, whose son play for Chip Kelly at Oregon, called it, “a great hire.” With such a wide spectrum of expert opinion on the hire, it is difficult to gauge how successful Chip Kelly actually will be with the Eagles. I think most Duck fans would agree that Chip Kelly will be successful in Philly, as it is nearly impossible for the average Duck fan to imagine Chip Kelly failing at anything. I believe he will immediately turn the Eagles fortunes around and silence his doubters.

Back in 2006, the Ducks were a mediocre team. Dennis Dixon was an average quarterback at best in Bellotti’s system. He started the 2006 season strong, but over the last nine games of the year, the Ducks went 3-6 while Dixon threw as many picks as touchdowns, failed to score on the ground and was benched for the infamously ineffective Brady Leaf. Dixon finished the year with 12 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions.  The Ducks finished that season 7-6. Then over that offseason, they hired a guy by the name of Chip Kelly to run the offense. Chip Kelly completely transformed Dennis Dixon from an average run-first quarterback into an efficient and effective passer and game manager. Kelly helped restore Dennis Dixon’s confidence, handed him the keys to his up-tempo offense, and Dixon simply took off. That season he threw 20 touchdowns to just four interceptions, and was a leading Heisman candidate before his career as a Duck was cut short by a torn ACL in the 10th game of the season.

One of Chip Kelly’s first moves as head coach of the Eagles was to restructure Michael Vick’s deal and basically give him one last chance to prove himself. Kelly has also stated that he will be having an open quarterback competition when training camp rolls around, and that whoever is going to start is going to have to earn it on the practice field. Sound familiar Duck fans? Chip Kelly uses open competition to get the most out of all of his players, and I think that will translate nicely to the NFL. Mike Vick nearly got booed out of Philly last season (not that it takes much to do that) after having a nightmarish season. He threw 12 touchdowns last year and had 14 turnovers in 10 games of action. I believe that the collapse had more to do with a lack of team unity (and blocking) and a loss of faith in Andy Reid than anything Vick was doing wrong. Mike Vick may be 32 going on 33, but I think he has plenty left in the tank to run a Chip Kelly offense. If Jeremiah Masoli could pull it off, then I think Mike Vick can handle it. Not to mention the Eagles have one of the speediest rosters in the NFL, with explosive players like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin. I am sure Chip Kelly will be able to find innovative ways to get the ball to those guys in open space, especially if he was able to do that at Oregon with mostly three and four star recruits. Granted, he will be facing the cream of the crop in NFL defenses, but Chip will also be working with some of the fastest and most talented offensive weapons in the league.

Chip Kelly lives and breathes football. He has climbed the ladder from being the offensive coordinator at the University of New Hampshire to the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in just over ten years. Being a great football coach is just something Chip Kelly has always been destined for. Now he gets what he has always wanted; a chance to prove that he has what it takes to coach an NFL team. I believe wholeheartedly that he has what it takes, and I am sure by the time training camp rolls around that all of his players will believe that too.
Joe Rampone is on Twitter. Follow him at @JoeRampone
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