I was originally going to post something about the NFL Playoffs and how I thought everything was going to fall up into the Divisional Round. The Philadelphia Eagles had different plans for me tonight with their firing of Chip Kelly. That doesn’t mean I won’t my playoff preview, I’ll probably end up doing it tomorrow. But oh man did this really come out of nowhere. Where to begin?
I think we have to start with the firing itself. It’s not entirely surprising, considering the dumpster fire that the Eagles season has been. Losing back to back games with 40+ points dropped on them each of those games and with nearly 40 dumped on them during Saturday’s matchup against the Redskins it was pretty much inevitable. Except I can think of coaches that have had bad seasons like this before after doing well in previous seasons being given another chance. The difference between them and Chip is that Chip Kelly had just gotten control of trading and cutting players that he felt necessary a mere ten months ago. And, rather inadvertently, gutted this Eagles team in the process. Whether gutting the team and starting from scratch was his plan or that he thought he was upgrading is not something I know nor something I can speculate on. In essence his downfall is rooted in his Pyrrhic victory. Kelly the GM, as so many people have said already, killed Kelly the coach. But what happens next?
For the Eagles, it’s back to the drawing board. And as much as Eagles fans will hate to hear this, it’s going to be painful for a couple of years. Unless they can get the right combination of coaches and they can pick up the right players in free agency, I don’t expect this franchise to see the light of the playoffs until the 2018-2019 season. The next coach has to be at least decent though in order for that to happen, and even that’s stretching it if they make poor choices in their players. Take it from a Buccaneers and Bills fan. Going back to the drawing board is always painful and always results in short term struggles. Beyond the 2018 season? Nobody can really have a good idea of what happens beyond that point. Maybe the Eagles get a great head coach and draft the next Tom Brady and become the next dynasty. Maybe the Eagles pick a terrible head coach and draft the next Ryan Leaf and go on a playoff drought. There’s no way of telling what happens, only that in three years you’ll know whether your next coach was a success or failure.
As for the Chip Kelly, I think he’s likely going to be on another NFL team by the end of January. There’s speculation the Titans might grab him because he has ties to Marcus Mariota, but I’m thinking that the Cleveland Browns in particular might come a callin’, especially because of Johnny Manzeil. Chip Kelly did particularly well with quarterbacks like Manziel during college and even his first season with the Eagles. The rather listless Browns offense could use an invigoration from Chip. The San Francisco 49ers, depending on the patience of their owner with Jim Tomsula, might go after Chip Kelly as well. After all, you could do worse (like Joe Philbin). There’s also the (small) chance he could land back in college football for a season or so. If say (for example) the Dallas Cowboys fire Jason Garrett and choose Art Briles from Baylor to be their next coach, Chip Kelly could easily land that job no questions asked. Realistically speaking though the best chance he has of being a head coach next year is in the NFL.
In the end Chip Kelly is probably the winner in the big picture. Unless the unimaginable happens and he doesn’t get an NFL job within the next two years, he’s the obvious short term winner in this arrangement. He gets to go to greener pastures where the future is brighter than in Philadelphia. But, in an NFL where making the playoffs is hard, the Eagles are back to square one, a place they weren’t when they fired Andy Reid nearly three years ago.