In a surprise move that would not have been a surprise a week or so ago, the Eagles have hired University of Oregon coach Chip Kelly to be their head coach.
Assuming that Kelly doesn’t change his mind again before signing on the dotted line in Philly, here are a few thoughts on the hire and how it might affect the Redskins and the rest of the NFC East.
--Do the Eagles have the next Jim Harbaugh or the next Steve Spurrier? Spurrier and Harbaugh both were NFL quarterbacks and were familiar with the league. Spurrier came from Florida and was a flop in two seasons with the Redskins. Harbaugh stepped up from Stanford and has taken the 49ers to consecutive NFC title games. Will Kelly be as successful as Harbaugh or will he flame out like Spurrier?
--Get in extra wind sprints. Whatever the Eagles do, they will do it fast. Kelly was famous for keeping things at a fast pace in his program at Oregon. Practices were quick and lively and the no-huddle was the norm in games.
--Welcome to the world of the eight-point touchdown. And a world where the other team actually uses all four of the chances it has to gain the 10 yards needed for a first down. Kelly will almost always go for two after scoring the first touchdown of the game and he goes for it on fourth down in unconventional situations.
--How steep will his learning curve be? Kelly, 49, is relatively new to coaching big-time football. His worked at places like Columbia and New Hampshire before become Oregon’s offensive coordinator in 2007. In 2009, head coach Mike Bellotti stepped up to become Oregon’s athletic director and Kelly was promoted to the top job. Four years later, he’s an NFL head coach and the Eagles’ first practice will be the first one he has participated in in any way.
--Can he succeed with equal talent? Oregon was able to lure top talent to Eugene with his fun system and the ultra-cool uniforms and stadium provided in large part by Nike money. It won’t work like that in the NFL. It is a lot easier to push across the two-point conversion or convert the fourth and five when you’re usually lining up superior athletes. The salary cap will prevent that in Philadelphia.