By Jason Keidel
Bill Parcells is the owner of many maxims, metaphors and euphemisms. Among them was his famous desire to not only cook the meal, but also shop for the groceries. Meaning, of course, he would not only enjoy coaching a football team, but also picking his personnel.
Enter Chip Kelly, who took the Parcells path after just two seasons as a head coach in the NFL. After two, 10-6 seasons, Kelly used his brief success as a wedge into the Eagles power structure. Word is the GM at the time had his office swung around to the other side of the building just to make way for Kelly’s new job and, perhaps, new ego.
So Kelly went to work, taking a jackhammer to a relatively robust roster. QB Nick Foles… gone. RB LeSean McCoy… gone. WR Jeremy Maclin… gone. In their places were pieces that didn’t quite fit. Especially DeMarco Murray, who was here to replace McCoy, a fixture and flawless back for Kelly’s system.
All year Murray complained about his role, on the rare occasions he knew what it was. A between-the-tackles, bruising back was now being asked to melt into this futuristic offense of sideways or circular movement. It bombed.
Bradford wasn’t much better. Not that Foles reminded anyone of Joe Montana, but he did have a season (under Kelly) of 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. For some reason, Kelly thought an eternally injured Bradford would be mobile enough to run an offense designed for Marcus Mariota.
Then word dripped from the franchise that Kelly had problems with players of color. Or, at best, he could not relate to them. Then the dam broke open this week, with players griping about how “unapproachable” Kelly was, that if you got on his bad side once, you stayed there forever.
We don’t know how it all went down. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said he never offered Kelly a chance to stay as head coach provided he surrender his GM duties. For his part, Kelly issued a platitude-lathered statement about gratitude and opportunities. Insiders say he only wants to coach now, and leave the personnel stuff to personnel people.
No doubt nearly every AD in college sports is drooling over the idea of handing their football program to Kelly. But Kelly is hanging steadfast to his new NFL roots. There are whispers that he would like to reunite with Mariota, an Oregon redux in Nashville.
Everyone has a take on the firing. Did the Eagles do the right thing? Some say letting Andy Reid walk was a mistake. And, judging by the job he’s doing in Kansas City, they have a point. Is the same true of Kelly?
As Lurie said, the team melted into mediocrity. No matter what he did his first two seasons, Kelly has no playoff wins, and was fired with a 6-9 mark this season. Which brings us to another Parcells maxim: You are what your record says you are.
Jason writes a weekly column for CBS Local Sports. He is a native New Yorker, sans the elitist sensibilities, and believes there’s a world west of the Hudson River. A Yankees devotee and Steelers groupie, he has been scouring the forest of fertile NYC sports sections since the 1970s. He has written over 500 columns for WFAN/CBS NY, and also worked as a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated and Newsday subsidiary amNew York. He made his bones as a boxing writer, occasionally covering fights in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, but mostly inside Madison Square Garden. Follow him on Twitter @JasonKeidel.