Coaching Buzz: Kelly, Banner And More

In case you missed it, we’ve started a special Coaching Buzz section here at Birds 24/7.

You’ll find everything we write about Andy Reid’s expected departure and Jeffrey Lurie’s coaching search right there. That includes links, rumors and notes on potential candidates.

Yesterday, we shared some information on Oregon’s Chip Kelly. There’s an interesting debate among some very smart football people about whether he’ll be successful in the NFL.

Chris Brown from Grantland has written about Kelly extensively over the years. In his most recent piece, Brown explains how Kelly has managed to take old-school ideas to form an innovative offensive approach:

“Every coach has to ask himself the same question: ‘What do you want to be?'” Kelly said at a recent clinic. “That is the great thing about football. You can be anything you want. You can be a spread team, I-formation team, power team, wing-T team, option team, or wishbone team. You can be anything you want, but you have to define it.” That definition is evident in Oregon. Kelly’s choice of a no-huddle spread offense drips from every corner of the impressive practice facilities in Eugene. Oregon does not run a no-huddle offense so much as they are a no-huddle program.

For all of the hype surrounding Oregon games, Oregon practices might be even better. Oregon practices are filled with blaring music and players sprinting from drill to drill. Coaches interact with players primarily through whistles, air horns, and semi-communicative grunts. Operating under the constraint of NCAA-imposed practice time limits, Kelly’s sessions are designed around one thing: maximizing time. Kelly’s solution is simple: The practice field is for repetitions. Traditional “coaching” — correcting mistakes, showing a player how to step one way or another, or lecturing on this or that football topic — is better served in the film room.

The entire article is definitely worth your time.

Meanwhile, Mike Tanier of Sports On Earth goes the other way, suggesting that Kelly will likely flop in the NFL:

All of which is fascinating, because Kelly might as well wear a sweatshirt that reads: “College Coach Who Will Flop in the NFL.” He doesn’t set off your Spurrier Radar (or SpurriDar), then you don’t have SpurriDar. If you were trying to create an exceptional college coach who is completely unsuited to the NFL, all you would need is Kelly’s DNA and resume.

And finally, Chase Stuart of FootballPerspective.com takes issue with the idea that Kelly would be another Steve Spurrier, pointing out that Oregon has never had a top-10 recruiting class under him:

Instead, the real question is whether Kelly is a better option than what’s behind door number 1 (NFL retread) or door number 2 (NFL hotshot assistant). Are those doors any safer? Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden may be available — or may not be available — but history is littered with successful coaches who failed the second time around — and remember, no coach has ever won Super Bowls with two different teams. Are Wade Phillips, Andy Reid, Jason Garrett, or Norv Turner the type of coaches that would make you feel more comfortable hiring than Kelly? Eric Mangini, Raheem Morris, Hue Jackson or Jack Del Rio?

The other main option is to go the hotshot coordinator route, which might leave you salivating over Rob Ryan and Ray Horton, who have coached strong, aggressive defenses in Dallas and Arizona, but have no experience as the top dog. Kyle Shanahan is doing a nice job in Washington with Robert Griffin III and Mike McCoy is succeeding with Peyton Manning in Denver, but does that make them safe bets? Perry Fewell is the Giants defensive coordinator and is well-respected, but does that make him a safe bet?

The debate will rage on for months. Be sure to choose your side before January.

Meanwhile, Joe Banner sat down with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer for a wide-ranging one-on-one interview. Here’s what he said when asked for the qualities he looks for in a head coach:

When we hired Andy Reid in Philadelphia we did a study on every coach who had led a team to two Super Bowls (appearances) to find the common denominator. We went in looking for things like offensive philosophy, did they come from defense, did they come from college? Had they been a coordinator? We found nothing. Then we accidentally realized they were all exactly the same when we took football out of the equation — they were all incredibly strong leaders, they all had hired great staffs, they managed them well and were all very detail-oriented.

As friend of the blog Sam Lynch pointed out on Twitter, Banner worked side-by-side with Lurie for that study. And while Reid has not brought home the Lombardi Trophy, few (sane people, that is) would argue that he was not a good hire. So that last sentence about the qualities Banner’s looking for will likely carry weight this time around for the Eagles.

Banner spoke about a variety of other topics. He said his preference is for the coach to have final say on all personnel matters. He also said he would watch film and be involved in the draft process.

I don’t think the Eagles drafted a guy that I haven’t watched. I’ll watch all of the top guys and any free agent we’re thinking of signing. Later in the draft, they might give me five guys to watch that could be available in the sixth round. I also go to the Senior Bowl and the Indianapolis combine, but I’m also there to develop relationships with agents and people in the league.

And it seems clear that he was probably not on board with the initial Juan Castillo promotion. Banner said a weakness in the league “is people’s inclinations to hire people they know or they feel safe with.” Much more in there that sheds light on Banner’s role in Philadelphia and the Eagles’ organizational philosophy.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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