Eagles Wake-Up Call: Perception vs. Reality

Mixed results have made it difficult to decipher what kind of coach Chip Kelly really is.

Chip Kelly. (Jeff Fusco)

Chip Kelly. (Jeff Fusco)

Chip Kelly stood before his players during Tuesday’s morning meeting at the NovaCare Complex to discuss perception versus reality. Rumors swirled about him meeting with USC for their then-vacant head coaching job, so Kelly seized an opportunity.

“I’ve never been leaving and it has been reported [that I will], so that’s my point,” Kelly told reporters yesterday. “It is the difference between perception and reality: the reality is ‘this,’ the perception is ‘this’ and here are a couple of examples of reality and perception.”

Kelly also contrasted the perception that the Eagles didn’t think Mychal Kendricks fit their system with the reality of them extending the linebacker’s contract by four years. However, one case of perception versus reality that isn’t so clear-cut hits closer to home for Kelly: whether or not he’s a good NFL coach.

After 43 games, mixed results have made it difficult to sort out what’s perception and what’s reality when it comes to what kind of coach Kelly really is.

There are 21 other current NFL head coaches who have been at the helm for as long as Kelly, if not longer. Among that group, Kelly ranks 10th out of 22 in winning percentage (55.8) in the first three years of a head coach’s career, ahead of Super Bowl winners such as Pete Carroll (52.1), Sean Payton (52.1) and Tom Coughlin (50).

Kelly is also one of 10 coaches to not win a playoff game in his first three seasons, a group that includes Bill Belichick.

However, the Eagles have been trending in the wrong direction. After making the playoffs two years ago, Philadelphia failed to do so last season and is guaranteed to finish with Kelly’s worst regular season record ever this year. Amid a 4-7 season and back-to-back humiliating losses, some coaching decisions have been scrutinized.

For example, in games where both Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray played, Mathews received far fewer snaps than Murray even though he’s first in the NFL in yards per carry. Murray, meanwhile, ranks 43rd, or sixth-to-last among qualified players, in yards per rush.

Because of Kelly’s additional responsibilities he took on in the offseason, it’s difficult to decipher how much blame he deserves, and perhaps more importantly, which of his roles that blame belongs to.

Only one Eagles receiver — Jordan Matthews — ranks in the top-100 in yards per route run, but is that because the personnel is so bad or because the coach isn’t setting his guys up for success?

There’s an additional answer choice, of course, which is the blame should be split between Kelly the GM and Kelly the coach. As difficult as it is to determine, however, it’s Jeffrey Lurie’s job to untangle the mess that the Eagles have become, and to figure out what role, if any, Kelly should have moving forward.


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“I can take your head off with a smile.” Byron Maxwell isn’t worried about a loss of confidence.


After two and a half years, writes David Murphy, maybe Chip should consider adapting to a league that has caught up.

It’s interesting that Chip Kelly made a crack about the wishbone the other day, because whatever he wants to call his offense, it looks awfully similar at this point. Sure, the formations are different, and the players are more spread out.

Really, though: Isn’t this what Georgia Tech or Navy looks like when it plays a team with superior talent that is coached up on the proper way to defend the scheme it is about to face? When it can no longer depend on the benefit of the unfamiliar? This is exactly what it looks like.

Like an icy highway in the South, a mangled mess of professional athletes tripping over one another and doing doughnuts in the dirt. That is what the Eagles’ offense looked like for the final three quarters of its nationally televised tryptophan overdose against the Lions. Like slop.

Tommy Lawlor would be surprised if Chip doesn’t return to the Eagles next season, in large part because of Jeffery Lurie’s patience.

[Peter] King is focusing on the right person in the equation…Jeff Lurie. We can all have an opinion about what should be done, but Lurie’s is the only one that really matters.

Lurie was loyal to [Andy] Reid, but that was built up over time. They had a good relationship. I have no idea if Chip is close with Lurie or not. They have spent almost 3 years together, but Chip isn’t known as a big time socializer so who knows.

I do know that Lurie is both smart and patient. He won’t be afraid to make a move if he thinks it is the right thing to do. He also won’t make a move for the sake of change. He went all-in with Chip less than a year ago. Is all that faith gone this quickly?


Chip will address the media at 11:45 a.m.