The Philadelphia Eagles miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season and fourth time in five years. Chip Kelly, despite being the head coach and much more than that, presiding over this project that’s failed to take off, won’t be the one paying the price, at least not immediately.
It does make sense in way. Whether the Eagles finish 7-9 or 6-10, there’s not much to be happy about. But this was just the first year of Kelly having full control of building his own team, which he didn’t waste time doing in the offseason – famously shipping out LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso to save the team money, and then signing DeMarco Murray for a pretty big deal considering the market for running backs, and having that explode in his face. Murray has only 633 yards and five touchdowns on 181 carries. McCoy, in Buffalo, has run for 895 yards and three touchdowns, although he thinks it’s been a disappointing season for him.
But after the Eagles won the NFC East in Kelly’s first season and then went 10-6 last year while playing half a season with Mark Sanchez, this season was a slap in the face. The Dallas Cowboys lost Tony Romo in week 2. The Washington Redskins are the Redskins, even if a better version of that. The New York Giants continue to be baffling, but not exceptionally good or better than anyone. The division wasn’t the issue for the Eagles, yet they managed to mess up at almost every turn and checkpoint. Kelly, who did incredibly well at Oregon, has never had a losing season as a head coach.
While most sources from inside the Eagles say that Kelly is keeping his job, he does have a meeting with owner Jeff Lurie at the end of the season. Who knows, maybe a bad loss in week 17 as well will change things a little bit. It won’t be surprising to see some of his responsibilities clipped during the offseason and the Eagles going through some sort of organizational change. Maybe Kelly knows what he’s doing and in which direction this franchise is going, but he hasn’t been able to spread a lot of confidence in his work this season, hurting that “offensive genius” reputation quite a bit.
Whether he’s going to be doing it with a new quarterback is another question. Sam Bradford is a free agent when this season ends. He has said he wants to stay and doesn’t think that playing in a another new offense is good for him, but like players always say before negotiations begin, “it’s not up to him”.
On a personal note, when Chip Kelly took the Eagles job or was about to take it, we argued against going in that direction. Being great in college football is just as good as being great in the NFL. Pete Carroll might be a Super Bowl champion with the Seahawks, but I’m not sure it beats what he did with USC for a decade, and what team first comes up when his name does as well. Kelly might still turn this thing around and become an NFL success, but for now, he looks like another college football genius that can’t translate his talent, knowledge and personality into sustainable NFL success.