This weekend, Chip Kelly is expected to make a decision on his future, as he’s reportedly set to select between Florida and UCLA. Kelly is clearly a football guy, so it’s a good bet for him to get back into coaching in some capacity—though I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up declining both Florida and UCLA and tries to see about an NFL opportunity after the season.
However, based on multiple reports (though perhaps fake), it sounds like Kelly will go back into the college ranks after his five-year absence that included four years in the NFL and one year on television. If you are unaware, Kelly was previously the head coach for the Oregon Ducks, taking the program to unprecedented heights while going 46-7 with four BCS bowl appearances (including a national championship loss to a Cam Newton-led Auburn team), two bowl wins, and three top-five postseason finishes of No. 3, No. 4, and No. 2.
Now that he appears poised to head back to college football, you will hear some takes (stupid ones) that Kelly is a “college coach” that belongs in college. He’d be one of the best coaches in college football if he were to return, but the narrative that he’s a college coach is just wrong.
If Kelly was just a “college coach,” he wouldn’t have won ten games in each of his first two seasons in the NFL with Philadelphia.
In Kelly’s third NFL season, he had no choice but to take control of the football operations after current Eagles executive vice president Howie Roseman jettisoned (or stabbed in the back) personnel man Tom Gamble, and he made moves to go from good to great and was given less than a year to see the plans through. Today, we’re seeing the Eagles reap the benefits of what Kelly did by getting rid of some selfish players, setting the groundwork for a team that appears to have great chemistry.
And in San Francisco last year, Don Shula probably would’ve had trouble winning games with that roster—which is clearly improved this season, yet Kyle Shanahan’s squad only has one win so far.
If Kelly was just a “college coach,” Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator Wade Phillips wouldn’t have praised his offense, unprompted.
The bottom line is Kelly’s offense is incredibly difficult to defend. In that final season in Philadelphia, the interior offensive line really struggled, and it didn’t allow them to run inside zone with bruisers DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews like Kelly wanted. Had he been given a fair amount of time to build the roster, there’s not much question his offense wouldn’t become a tough task for opposing defenses.
If Kelly was just a “college coach,” NFL people in general wouldn’t hold him in such high regard.
After the first time Kelly was fired, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gave his thoughts on the matter:
Yeah, I would say it’s really disappointing. I mean Chip Kelly to me is a really good football coach. I think he does a great job. I think he’s done a good job with that team. It’s disappointing to see. Or Josh [McDaniels] in Denver – there are a lot of examples but pretty much everybody is on a one-year contract in this league. I don’t know how you build a program in one year. Chip is a great coach. He’ll end up somewhere and he’ll do a great job there. I’d say a lot of the players that were on the Eagles that are no longer on the Eagles aren’t really doing too much for anybody else, either.
Belichick also previously brought Kelly in for some tips on the no-huddle offense, and he’s clearly not just going to hand out compliments for no reason. Now, you can disagree with the greatest coach of all-time and act like you know more about who’s a good coach and who isn’t. But I won’t.
Tom Coughlin, Troy Aikman (who’s reportedly really pushing for Kelly to coach his alma matter), Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy, Bill Polian, Nick Saban, and Bill Parcells are all among the believers in Kelly as a coach. His critics are basically a couple of players that were angry he traded or cut them, and a bunch of people that apparently don’t pay attention enough or listen to the overly negative know-it-all media that think they know more than those that live and breathe the game.
Chip Kelly isn’t just a college coach. He’s an elite football coach in general, and whoever gets him—in college or in the pros—will be lucky to have him.