Coaching Buzz: Kelly, O’Brien And the Next Harbaugh

The debate over whether Chip Kelly will be a successful NFL head coach rages on. Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times takes a look at some of the questions general managers will have to answer about Kelly:

How are you going to work with these players? It typically takes at least a couple of years for a coach to overhaul a roster. That means Kelly would need to work with a team’s current players, at least in the short term. If he’s hired, the real test of genius is how he transforms a 330-pound offensive lineman into a marathoner who can stay on the field for 100 offensive snaps a game. That’s some serious conditioning, and we’re not talking about a 100-man college roster.

Meanwhile, John Canzano of The Oregonian expects Kelly to bolt for the NFL:

If Kelly’s career as a college coach were a stock, you’d sell it today. It might never be higher. It might never feel more robust. He’s as hot a commodity as he’ll ever be, even if the winning continues. And the NFL owners are going to run at Kelly in a way that makes his jaunt up the ramp through all those bodies at the end of the stadium feel like it was in the open field.

I can’t see Kelly returning next season to Eugene as head coach. I don’t think you can either. I have to think Kelly is as bored winning blowouts as you and I are with watching them. Save for the surprise that was last Saturday vs. Stanford, the result feels as predictable as passing a billboard off the freeway. For a coach who calls plays and goes for it like a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie, this kind of success must feel like knitting.

In Happy Valley, Bill O’Brien just finished up an impressive 8-4 campaign with a win over Wisconsin Saturday. With the Nittany Lions ineligible for a bowl game, O’Brien will focus his efforts on recruiting, but he’ll undoubtedly hear from NFL teams in the coming weeks. Until he comes out and says without a doubt that he’ll be back next season, O’Brien’s players will have to answer questions about their coach’s future.

“I’m not sure what the future will be with Coach O’Brien,” wide receiver Allen Robinson said, per the Reading Eagle. “He’s here now. He’s a great guy to play for. He’s talked like he’ll be here next year.

“I’m expecting him to be back, but I’m not sure what Coach O’Brien is going to do. Only he knows that. I can say that with everybody that’s playing or on the coaching staff. You never know what anybody is going to do.”

Amid tough circumstances, O’Brien won over his players. Plus, he’s got NFL experience.

“If you want a model of how to run an organization, you look at Bill O’Brien,” defensive end Pete Massaro said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I will look at that the rest of my life and be grateful that he was able to come in here and run this place like that.”

And finally, given the success of John Harbaugh in Baltimore, don’t rule out the possibility of the Eagles taking a look at some special-teams coaches. Paul Domowitch of the Daily News writes that one name to keep an eye on is San Diego’s Rich Bisaccia.

“I really believe there are three to four special-teams coaches out there who deserve a shot, and Rich would be right at the top of my list,” [Mike] Mayock said. “I think Rich is the next John Harbaugh. He would be a guy I would bang the table for. There are people at both the college and pro level that are looking at him right now [as a head coach].”

Bisaccia, 52, spent nine seasons as the special-teams coach in Tampa, seven on Jon Gruden’s staff. He left last year to take the Chargers job.

“He’s a guy that has coached on both sides of the ball,” Mayock said.

A reminder that you can find all the coaching buzz roundups in our special section.

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

    Wasn’t San Diego’s special teams last year the worst in the history of the league? No idea if he was the coach last year, but I’d run from that guy.

    • Tyler Phillips

      no, his first year with SD was this year i believe

  • JofreyRice

    The comment has been made in other places on the web, but the rule change regarding blocking below the waist is going to be huge for a lot of head coaches who run zone blocking schemes; guys like Chip Kelly, David Shaw, Gary Kubiak, & The Shanahans. If that rule change passes, I wouldn’t hire Kelly, because he won’t be able to run his offense in the NFL.

    Another name to consider from Cincy’s staff is Mike Zimmer. He’s got that Jim Johnson aggressive style 4-3 D, with his own twist. I think Fletcher Cox could do a lot of the things Geno Atkins does for the Bengals, and I like Zimmer’s ability to get production out of a former first round bust (Reggie Nelson) and a former CB (Nate Clements) at safety. Leon Hall is very good, Atkins is one of the best DTs in the league, and Carlos Dunlap is a solid passrusher, but the Bengals are not flush with talent, defensively, and still manage to field a respectable unit. They plugged in Pacman & Terrence Newman, two guys who had been left for dead, and are getting production out of them.

    • Guest

      my thoughts exactly

    • Philly59

      my thoughts exactly regarding Zimmer

  • Helio Empire

    Chip Kelly will be a NFL head coach, he brings excitement and fan interest and viewers to TV screens without ever having won an NFL game. For Kelly Eagles makes sense because the Eagles are a top notch organization with a bad year, rather than a miserable operation with a good year. Eagles are also one of the larger media markets