Kelly Using Jimmy Johnson As ‘Sounding Board’

Jimmy Johnson. Kirby Lee/USA Today

Jimmy Johnson. Kirby Lee/USA Today

Chip Kelly likes to talk to other football coaches.

When he was hired, he discussed how Dick Vermeil helped advise him. He talks to Oregon’s Mark Helfrich every week. In the past, he had visits with Jim Harbaugh and Pete CarrollBill Belichick is a friend of Kelly’s. And he hosted Urban Meyer and Kliff Kingsbury last offseason.

One former coach with whom he’s chatted in recent months is Jimmy Johnson.

Peter King of The MMQB wrote about their relationship in his Monday morning piece:

“Does Kelly remind you of you, 25 years ago?” I asked Johnson the other day.

“Well, in some ways,” Johnson said. “I really like what I have seen out of Chip Kelly. Chip called me and we visited a couple times, and what I heard from him, I liked. No one can say from the outside—right moves, wrong moves. You gotta let ‘em play out. You won’t know till you see the results. I felt I was right when I did the things I did, but who knew? I traded away my starting quarterback, Steve Pelluer, to Kansas City. The leading receiver, I don’t remember his name [it was Ray Alexander] we got rid of. I talked to Danny White, and he retired. Then I traded Herschel Walker. You can’t be afraid to make moves. Chip’s not. So some of it is similar. But there is one big difference: We were the worst team in the league two years in a row [1988, 1989]. People were ready for a big change.

“The similarities? We’re both confident, both competent, both know how to win. We talked after he got the new responsibilities this year. I just said, ‘Go with people you believe in, and go with players who fit your personality and fit your system.’ I have talked to Bill Belichick about this too. Certain players are gonna be successful in his system and not in others.”

According to King, Johnson has served as a “sounding board” for Kelly. Their last conversation took place after Kelly took over full personnel control. Per Johnson, they chatted for over an hour, and the former Cowboys coach could tell Kelly was “loading his guns” for some big moves.

King’s piece also focuses on Sam Bradford and the QB swap with Nick Foles.  The entire column is worth a read.