Kelly And the ‘64,000-Dollar Question’

Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Jeffrey Lurie said there are notebooks you could read about Chip Kelly‘s “incredibly defined” vision when it it comes to player evaluation.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s incredibly detailed, both psychologically, athletically, in so many categories,” said Lurie.

We know that Kelly seeks a specific kind of player from both a character, measurables and scheme standpoint. Now that he has full control of personnel, he has the ability to bring in precisely the type of  players he is looking for — and ship out those that don’t quite match his criteria.

By having such stringent parameters, you shrink the pool. And by shrinking the pool, don’t you run the risk of missing out on too many gifted players?

“It’s a 64,000 dollar question,” said Kelly during his hour-long session with reporters at the NFC coaches breakfast Wednesday. “You can say, ‘You know what, our parameters are too tight so let’s expand them,’ and then if you accept it, expect it. So if you expect that you are going to take a 5-7 corner and the ball gets thrown over his head, you can’t say, ‘Boy, he should have made that play.’ He ain’t going to make the play. The receiver is 6-4. There is a give and take.

“It’s a tough deal but if you take overachievers that aren’t the right size at every position, eventually you are going to have a 5-10 nose guard with a 5-9 inside linebacker with a 5-8 safety and they’re going to run the ball right down your throat and you have no one to kick in the pants except for yourself because you decided to make those selections. So if you’re going to have a standard in any operation – your business, your newspaper, whatever – and say, ‘You know what? I want a guy that’s really good at this; this guy doesn’t really fit the criteria but let’s just hire him anyways,’ and then you wonder why your business failed, it’s because you lowered your standards to get to a certain point.”

Where the rubber meets the road is when you get to cases like DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. Kelly termed the dumping of Jackson as a “football decision.” He tied the McCoy trade more to money, though Lurie indicated yesterday that Kelly prefers “one-cut runners,” suggesting McCoy is not an ideal system fit.

Does the vision have enough bend to it?

That answer will reveal itself in time, and it’s certainly possible that the correct response is “No.” For Kelly, being able to arrive at an answer in the first place is part of the overall philosophy.

“The guys that can’t tell you what they want in a player are probably the teams that aren’t successful,” he said. “When guys are specific and know exactly what they want, then you have a chance to fix it from an understanding [standpoint]. But if you don’t understand what you want in a player or a defensive scheme or an offensive scheme, then you can never correct a mistake because you don’t even know if you’re making a mistake.”