Wake-Up Call: On Lurie, Chip And the Decision That Lies Ahead
Jeffrey Lurie should have known better.
He was caught up — like many of us were — in the Chip Kelly sizzle. A hyper-speed offense that established franchise records right out of the gates and a high-tech operation that put the old guard on notice stirred the imagination of an owner desperate to see his team rise to the level of the elite.
“I’ve lived through a lot of division championships, a lot of playoff appearances, a lot of final four appearances, but our goal is we want to deliver a Super Bowl,” Lurie said at the owners meetings back in March, “and sometimes maybe I’m influenced by the notion of it’s very difficult to get from good to great, and you’ve got to take some serious looks at yourself when you want to try to make that step.
“It’s a gamble to go from good to great because you can go from good to mediocre with changes, but I decided that it was important enough to adopt the vision and philosophy of integrating the scouting with the coaching on a daily basis.”
To adopt Chip Kelly‘s plan, that is, one that handed the NFL newbie a level of control that only Bill Belichick — a 40-year league veteran and four-time Super Bowl champion — enjoys.
“Chip had a vision of exactly how he thought we could get from good to great. I thought it was a really sound vision, that he’s a very bright guy, he’s all about football, he’s all about wanting to win big and it made so much sense,” he said.
In theory, anyway.
Kelly explained to Lurie that the old personnel methodology did not account for the 3-4, two-gap defense that he was trying to build nor the “power spread offense” that he was taking the NFL by storm with.
“I think he was testing himself to see how far he could go with what we had. But there was always the sense…that we didn’t have exactly the players that could maximize him,” said Lurie.
Given the wave of momentum the former Duck was riding, it wasn’t fully considered that maybe those players were largely responsible for maximizing him; that discarding blue-chippers in the name of scheme/*culture fit might not be the wisest of moves; and that allowing an NFL neophyte to navigate a nuanced, complex personnel world alongside the 30-year-old Ed Marynowitz could result in a nosedive that travels well past “good to mediocre.”
But Lurie — a progressive, coach-centric owner — did not want apprehension to stand in the way of a creative force that could potentially pave a path towards greatness. So he handed Kelly the keys, only to watch him pull off the lot, veer left and crash his baby right into a mailbox.
Six wins, nine losses. A home record of 3-5. An average of 36 points per game yielded at the Linc over the last four. No stars to speak of outside Fletcher Cox and holes springing from multiple positions from offensive line to receiver to linebacker to corner.
Not good for a locker room that has shown little uniformity. The more the system fails, the greater number of detractors who have looked at Kelly’s operation with a skeptical eye and now have evidence to back up their suspicions. Both at the player level and above, this is not a coach that has full support inside the NovaCare.
Kelly does have a couple things going for him, though, including a pair of 10-win seasons over his first three and an owner in Lurie who has demonstrated patience over his 20 years at the helm. The two are expected to meet next week at the conclusion of the regular season. Kelly may have 0ffered a sneak peak at his upcoming pitch when he told reporters that “we’ll have a thorough evaluation when we’re done in terms of how we do everything and be very meticulous and detailed in terms of what we’re doing in terms of moving forward,” but that an overhaul is not needed because “it didn’t go our way, but I don’t think we’re a bad football team. Not by any stretch…I think we’ve got some really, really good guys.”
It will then be up to Lurie to decide whether he still believes Kelly is the right steward of this franchise moving forward. He essentially has three choices: He could move on from Kelly and opt for a total reboot that might send the Eagles even further away from relevancy; he could bring in a new personnel man and strip some power from Kelly (though, given the already awkward Kelly-Howie Roseman dynamic and level of haziness around the situation overall, it may be tough to attract a high-end talent); or he could keep it status quo and leave Kelly’s responsibilities as is.
Not exactly a plethora of quality, can’t-miss options. But that’s the situation Lurie finds himself in thanks in large part to a concession right around this time last year that was based more on hope — and a fear of losing the shooting star — than experience. Following Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Giants, he gets another opportunity to try and get it right.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I will never question his toughness.” Kelly chimes in on the Jason Peters reports.
“Hard to fathom how bad the Philadelphia defense is.” What they’re saying about the Eagles.
Josh takes a look at the state of the Eagles and the blame game after the team’s latest brutal loss.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
David Murphy of the Daily News writes that Eagles fans should take a step back and calm down before calling for Chip Kelly’s head.
Anybody who sees this thing in black and white probably hasn’t looked at it long enough. That, or they are making the same mistake they made when they decided for good that Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid and, say, Sam Bradford should not return. Mostly, they aren’t considering the alternatives, and that one fan base’s “inexcusable” season is another’s dream.
Case in point: Chances are, at a similar juncture of some previous season, a younger version of you decided that the Eagles needed to move on from their personnel chief. But what if Jeffrey Lurie decides to hasten Kelly’s departure by reinstalling Howie Roseman as the man with ultimate control over the short- and long-term future of the roster? Is the franchise better off with the guy who was present for the 2010-11 drafts that submarined their future or the guy who was here for Marcus Smith and Josh Huff?
Is there a correct answer? If there isn’t, then that’s the point. Because the first thing that I am reasonably sure of is that change for the sake of change is not the right move in this instance.
The Eagles’ loss to Washington on Saturday closed the book on one of the more agonizing Eagles teams in recent memory, writes Tommy Lawlor.
I know there is one more game to go, but that is basically going to be 3 hours of praying no key players get hurt. There’s not a whole lot to talk about in regard to that game, good or bad. From here on out, the focus is on big picture stuff.
The good thing about all of this is that we have freedom from caring. The roller coaster of emotions that comes with watching a team week in and week out can be trying. It’s great when the team is winning or at least fun to follow, but when you have a team that is struggling, football becomes a form of torture.
You don’t let your hopes get up during the week, but then when the game starts you let your heart get the best of you. You believe. This is the moment when the team will turn things around. Then reality slaps you upside the head in the form of an ugly turnover and you go right back to being miserable. Ugh.
And the 2015 Eagles were torturous.
Billy Davis and Pat Shurmur will address the media beginning at 11:45.