On the day he was introduced as the Eagles new head coach, Chip Kelly was asked whether he planned to be in Philadelphia for the long haul.
“I’m all in,” he said. “I think it was [Hernan] Cortes who burned the boats. I’ve burned the boats so I’m not going back. I’m in. I’m an NFL coach and this is where I want to be. If there was any indecision in terms of [not wanting to be in], I wouldn’t have made the jump. I made the jump and I’m here and I’m excited to be here.”
With that proclamation came a larger implied point: Kelly would closely examine every aspect of the way the Eagles were run, make changes to the organization where he saw fit and mold the entire franchise into his vision. This wasn’t a quick fixer-upper. There would be significant restructuring.
With Year 2 on the horizon, Kelly met with a roomful of reporters at the end of June’s’ minicamp and expanded on many of his philosophies. One topic that came up was his presence, which is felt throughout the NovaCare Complex. While some coaches believe in allowing the locker room to be a players-only sanctuary, Kelly prefers a different approach.
“I’ve never agreed with that,” he said. “We’re all Philadelphia Eagles, so there’s no place that’s [sacred or] not sacred or you’re not allowed to go. And I think sometimes in certain times, that’s where problems occur in the locker room, because coaches aren’t in the locker room enough. I think you shouldn’t have to worry about, ‘Well the coaches are here, we have to act any differently in the locker room.’ They should be able to behave the way we were all taught to behave: to be a good person, to be a good teammate, to be a good neighbor. That’s just part of the deal. Just like if I had my way – there’s obviously I think fire codes to it – there should be no doors on anything because you shouldn’t have to worry about what’s going on behind closed doors if you’re doing things the right way.”
Asked about whether he’s made any changes in the aftermath of the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin situation in Miami, Kelly added: “No. We did that before. We were always in the locker room as coaches since I got here. As I said earlier, I don’t believe you need to have any doors on anything. We eliminated the door in the back room [from the locker room to the lounge]. There should be no closed doors in terms of how you do it. We’re just continuing to emphasize what we emphasized a year ago. We don’t have any rookie shows, never have done that stuff. We just try to be a good person. That’s what we’re trying to get, a bunch of guys who are good people.”
It’s difficult to look at all the culture talk and not immediately think about the Eagles’ biggest offseason decision: releasing DeSean Jackson. It was the head coach’s call to let Jackson go, and while Kelly termed it a “football decision” there were clearly many factors at work.
Speaking in general terms (not specifically about Jackson), Kelly said: “The more people get along and share the same vision and aspirations, the more you’re going to get to where you want to get to. If you have people who have different agendas in terms of what they’re trying to get accomplished, that’s not going to help the cause.”
The overall picture has become a bit more clear in Year 2. Kelly will surround himself with people he likes and trusts. By all accounts, he believes in collaborating when making decisions and empowering players and assistants. But the vision is his, and going against the grain is encouraged, as long as doing so falls in line with the big picture.
There will be more surprises along the way, and in less than two months, we’ll again continue to monitor the results.