Eagles Wake-Up Call: Fallout From Firing Chip
It didn’t take long for Malcolm Jenkins to resolve the paradox.
In his two seasons prior to joining the Eagles, he never played 900 snaps on defense. But last year, he played 1,158, and this year, he’s on pace to top 1,200.
Somehow, the safety says has never been healthier in his NFL career.
“They do a great job of taking care of your body here,” Jenkins said yesterday. “It’s one of those things where it’s all new when you’re a veteran and you’ve been doing stuff the same way your whole career. You come here, it’s a little different. You’re lifting weights [and] you’re doing all the sports science stuff, but it works and it helps you maintain throughout a strenuous season. Everybody is hurting and sore, but they do a good job here of taking care of your body.”
When Jeffrey Lurie hired Kelly in January of 2013, he raved about Kelly’s football IQ. But he also excitedly discussed his head coach’s innovativeness and forward-thinking off of the field.
Kelly had a unique way of operating, and according to statements at the time, that’s one of the reasons the Eagles hired him.
“He’s got an incredible way of thinking about things,” Howie Roseman said soon after Kelly was hired. “When we looked at this and studied people who were great — and we had a great head coach — there were people who were out front on the edge of things, and then people are starting to copy. What we learned very quickly, Chip was a trend-setter. The things people were doing, they were following him. He wasn’t a disciple of anyone. People weren’t going, ‘Oh, Chip Kelly, he’s an offshoot of this person or that person.’ He was on the edge of it.”
One of the ways Kelly set himself apart was through his sports science program. Although it’s difficult to gauge how successful Kelly’s directive has been, it’s easy to find many players who enthusiastically endorse it.
However, those off-the-field programs are all geared to accomplish one goal: winning football games. Kelly didn’t do that, at least enough to satisfy Lurie, so in the end, those initiatives were rendered relatively meaningless.
Still, the head coach did appear to introduce successful innovations the franchise hasn’t seen before, which the Eagles may lose when the next regime takes over.
Then there’s the question of personnel.
Kelly’s handling of the roster may be the biggest reason Lurie let him go, and the coaching change only brings about more questions. It’s impossible to say without knowing who the Eagles will hire whether upcoming free agents will want to return, but if the new head coach does want to retain the starting quarterback, it may come at a cost.
Sam Bradford expressed his desire to return to Philadelphia after losing to Washington, but his reasoning may no longer apply.
“I think throughout my career, I’ve learned that learning new offenses every year, it’s just hard to continue to improve,” Bradford said. “You are always learning. You are learning new verbiage, learning new plays, learning new systems. And I would really like to stay in the same one and have the opportunity to play a second year.”
Although Lurie fired Kelly, he may have lost more than a head coach in the process.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The who, what, when, why and how of the Chip Kelly decision.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Players and media react to Kelly’s firing.
Jeffrey Lurie’s official statement about releasing Chip.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jeffrey Lurie brought this on himself, writes Mike Sielski.
But it was just one season. One. Suppose the Eagles lose Sunday to the New York Giants. It would be a fitting finish to a 6-10 season that seemed bound for nowhere from the start, but the Eagles have seen worse, and they’ve seen worse recently. As general manager, Howie Roseman – Kelly’s presumptive long-term replacement as talent-selection czar – presided over a 4-12 season in 2012, and he oversaw the 2010 and 2011 drafts that were quite awful and still debilitating for the franchise.
More, dismissing Kelly now closes the Eagles to the possibility that he might learn and improve, as a coach and an executive, over time. Such growth is not unheard of among the arrogant personality types that eventually thrive as NFL head coaches, as Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, and Tom Coughlin can attest.
Get to know the new director of player personnel, Tom Donahoe, via Dave Zangaro.
1. He was the general manager for the Bills from 2001 to 2005. During those years, the Bills went 31-49. In Buffalo, Donahoe hired Gregg Williams as the head coach; Williams went 17-31 in three years. He then hired Mike Mularkey, who went 14-18 in his two seasons.
2. Before joining Buffalo, Donahoe was the director of football operations for the Steelers from 1991-1999. In total, Donahoe, who is from a Pittsburgh suburb, worked for the team for 15 years, but he had a falling out with head coach Bill Cowher, which led to his firing.
Jeffrey Lurie will address the media at noon, and we’ll have you covered around the clock as the Eagles search for a new head coach.