Will Heath Evans Please Shut Up About Chip Kelly, Eagles Fans
As a lifelong Philadelphia sports observer, there is one thing that bothers me more than anything: when outsiders stick their big, fat nose into our business and assume they know more than the people who live and die daily with our teams.
Take Heath Evans. Please.
Evans is an analyst for the NFL Network who routinely bashes the Philadelphia fan, and in particular, new Eagles coach Chip Kelly. Now I remember Evans vaguely. He lasted 11 years in the NFL apparently as a fullback, but I remember him being in the league about a half an hour. He was a grunt. A guy who carried the football infrequently and who mostly served as a plow blocker for the really talented players. The jolts from that assignment may explain his illogical arguments when it comes to Kelly and Eagles fans. And besides that, I’m quite sure that he is bitter that his position in the league has been all but phased out. There is no more need for a fullback in the NFL, what with these sophisticated alignments that put speedy guys in slots and motion.
Evans hates Kelly. He has gone on the record many times that Chip’s spread/read-option offense will never succeed in the NFL. My question to Evans, when I had him on my radio show on 97.5 The Fanatic the other day, was “how in hell would he know?”
The read-option is a novel concept in the league. It’s in its beginning stages; just like the West Coast offense was many years ago. People looked at Bill Walsh’s innovation and giggled. And all Walsh did was stuff it up the “purists’” nostrils by winning Super Bowl after Super Bowl with it.
How would Evans know? Because he certainly didn’t give any tangible reasons for his conclusions. Evans pointed out the typical criticisms of Kelly’s methodology. That his breakneck offensive pace wears out his defense. That makes no sense at all. Because if that offense pace is moving the football — and by all accounts it is since the Eagles have averaged 30 points a game in two consecutive seasons — then the defense has plenty of time to rest on the sidelines. And even if the Eagles occasionally go three and out, isn’t this a defense that practices all the time against Chip’s speedy pace, which must mean they are in pretty good shape to take the field and be stout after said three and out?
Evans says the defense is worn down against the good teams. News flash, Skippy (he called me “Buddy” on the air four times, so I take liberty here): the Eagles defense lacked personnel last year. Could that be the reason they looked bad at times. The Eagles emphasized improving that defense this year, and they have to great measure. Did you pay attention to that, Heath, when you were game-planning your TV analysis of this year’s NFL?
The coup de grace for me in my interview with Evans was him bringing up that Chip hasn’t won anything using his unorthodox style. OK, so two years as head coach in the NFL is supposed to bag a Super Bowl? He’s building a program. Whatever happened to the notion that coaches are normally given five years to root a Super Bowl team? Evans also said he never got to the top of the mountain as head coach at Oregon. Kelly was at Oregon for three years, and came pretty close to winning a national championship. You don’t think in two more seasons there he could have accomplished that? When I asked Evans whether there were major college programs that ran his beloved “conventional” football system that also didn’t win a national championship, he sort of grunted and called me “Buddy” again.
Hey Heath, I don’t worship at the altar of Chip Kelly yet. There are a lot of things this coach has to show me before I believe fully that he’s on his way to taking this city to a football parade. We’re all waiting and observing like the rest of the fan base.
But here’s my advice: Eat another California roll for lunch out there in L.A. and leave the football stuff to us. We’re the ones who live it every day. Not you.