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Chip Kelly is as likely to be the next great coach as anyone

by chase stuart

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#1 Blitz24

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 01:15 PM


I’m a big fan of Mike Tanier, an excellent writer formerly of Football Outsiders and now with Sports on Earth. Yesterday, Tanier threw cold water on the idea that Chip Kelly is going to be the next great NFL coach. Tanier labeled him him this generation’s Steve Spurrier, and argued that it is lazy and unsophisticated to simply assume that “great NCAA coach = great NFL coach.” Unfortunately, his analysis only required the expenditure of one extra ounce of effort and intelligence:


Kelly is an offensive mastermind. He is guru of the modern college spread option. Marcus Mariota, his current quarterback, fakes a shotgun handoff, stands in the pocket while a file downloads, then floats passes to receivers who are open by five yards. Or, Mariota hands off toKenjon Barner, who busts off 300-yard games against overtaxed defenses. Or, Mariota keeps the football himself. There are trick plays, wildcat packages, fake field goals, bells, whistles, onion rings and shakes. It’s fun, and the quarterback is always in the gun. Is your SpurriDar beeping yet?
Kelly runs an explosive college offense, but like Spurrier’s fun ‘n’ gun, it is distinctly and uniquely a college offense. It is built on the principle of littering the field with speedy young men who can outrun the opponent’s speedy young men in the wide-open spaces that only exist at a level of play where everyone is a step slower, an inch shorter and 15 pounds lighter.


Kelly’s offense is often mischaracterized as gimmicky, but Chris Brown did an excellent job explaining how traditional football principles are the key to Kelly’s offense at Grantland yesterday. Brown has also written a bit about Kelly’s zone-read running game, the way the Ducks teachreading the defensive tackle, and how Oregon’s attack compares to Nebraska’s old rushing offense over at his website, Smart Football; alternatively, you can read about Kelly’s offense straight from the horse’s mouth.

Can Kelly simply pack his playbook, spend a training camp with an NFL team, and turn them into the pro version of the Ducks? Of course not; even if his running game works perfectly, his runs will mostly go for 8-yard gains, not 40-yard sprints (unless he’s playing the Raiders). But reducing Kelly to an X’s and O’s guru incapable of adaption is unfairly harsh. Tanier credits the great Nike machine with providing Oregon with superior talent, but that’s not a fair criticism. Oregon has never had a top-ten recruiting class under Kelly, and Rivals generally ranks Oregon’s classes in the teens or early twenties. Spurrier, coaching in talent-rich Florida, not remote Oregon, was playing with a decked more favorably stacked than Kelly ever has. But more importantly, Kelly’s offenses were unstoppable when he coached at New Hampshire without any recruiting edge, and his success at Oregon happened immediately, even before Oregon truly became the nouveau riche of college football.

In 2006, the Ducks ranked 18th in offensive SRS; in 2007, Kelly’s first season, the Oregon offense was outstanding, hitting the 48-point mark six times. Oregon was 7-6 in 2006, but rose to #2 in the country in 2007 with Kelly as the offensive coordinator. When star quarterback Dennis Dixon went down, Oregon slumped, losing three straight games, including any ugly shutout loss against UCLA. But in the Sun Bowl, the Ducks rebounded by scoring 56 points, and finished the year 3rd in offensive SRS. In 2008, Oregon ranked 2nd with a junior college transfer at quarterback (Jeremiah Masoli) and Legarrette Blount leading the charge. In 2009, Kelly was promoted to head coach. His first game was anunmitigated disaster; by the end of the season, his team again ranked second with Masoli and a new star, LaMichael James, teaming up to give Oregon one of college football’s most feared atacks. In 2010, the offense was even better and topped the 600-point mark despite having to integrate a new quarterback (Darron Thomas) into the offense; the Ducks ended the season in the national championship game. Last year, Oregonscored 645 points, and this year, with another freshman quarterback (Mariota) and no LaMichael James, the offense looks better than ever.

Kelly’s offenses have been nothing short of incredible, with many changing parts and often less-than elite recruits. Could you say something similar about Steve Spurrier? Perhaps, but that doesn’t make the two comparable any more than being a fast, black quarterback makes Cam Newton cut from the same cloth as Vince Young. Tanier unfairly glosses over Kelly’s “incredible leadership and management skills” and his unconventional-but stats-nerd-approved decision making. That’s the key: Kelly is a creative and intelligent football mind, the exact type of person that should be able to succeed in a league that tolerates strategists like Pat Shurmur and Marvin Lewis.


Posted Image
So I went to grab Harbaugh by the neck and...


The Oregon offenses are famous for their tempo, and that’s a style that Kelly could bring to the NFL regardless of the specific plays he calls. An up-tempo attack makes it difficult for defenses to substitute and tires out a defense, making life easy for an offense. If you think that sounds like a successful recipe in the NFL, you’re right. In 1978, another college coach had the 5th ranked offense that many described as gimmicky, but Bill Walsh turned out to be a pretty good NFL coach, too. Sure, Walsh learned under Paul Brown and had NFL experience, but that didn’t make his offense less controversial at the time.

Kelly has lightning fast practices and has his teams well-trained for games. Does that not sound like something that could translate into the NFL? On HBO’s Hard Knocks we saw Miami coach Joe Philbin running up-tempo, fast offenses, and the world did not suddenly end. Kelly’s approaches to running a practice and developing players are creative and intelligent, and there’s no reason to think his style wouldn’t work in the NFL. More importantly, what we’ve seen from Kelly is that he’s spotted inefficiencies in the collegiate market — lack of depth at most schools, focusing on large playbooks over conditioning, etc. — and exploited them. No one doubts that there are many inefficiencies in a league where Norv Turner and Mike Tice will coach on ad infinitum, and Kelly seems as capable of any coaching candidate as exploiting them. That’s what Belichick has done for a decade.

But the bigger question isn’t ‘whether or not Kelly will fail’ because ultimately most coaches do. Rex Ryan was the toast of the town two years ago, reaching the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons, and now seems on his way out the door. Tom Coughlin may be the single best coach in professional football, and Giants fans have wanted him fired for long stretches of his career. After awhile, every coach becomes a failure. Andy Reid is learning that lesson quite painfully in 2012.

Instead, the real question is whether Kelly is a better option than what’s behind door number 1 (NFL retread) or door number 2 (NFL hotshot assistant). Are those doors any safer? Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden may be available — or may not be available — but history is littered withsuccessful coaches who failed the second time around — and remember, no coach has ever won Super Bowls with two different teams. Are Wade Phillips, Andy Reid, Jason Garrett, or Norv Turner the type of coaches that would make you feel more comfortable hiring than Kelly? Eric Mangini, Raheem Morris, Hue Jackson or Jack Del Rio?

The other main option is to go the hotshot coordinator route, which might leave you salivating over Rob Ryan and Ray Horton, who have coached strong, aggressive defenses in Dallas and Arizona, but have no experience as the top dog. Kyle Shanahan is doing a nice job in Washington with Robert Griffin III and Mike McCoy is succeeding with Peyton Manning in Denver, but does that make them safe bets? Perry Fewell is the Giants defensive coordinator and is well-respected, but does that make him a safe bet?

Few elements of football are more art than science than the hiring of a head coach. The options always come with bright red flags. College coaches aren’t even in the same league as NFL coaches, young coordinators have never shown the ability to lead, and retreads have already proven that they can fail. The skills needed to make a person a great position coach or a great coordinator often have little overlap with what is needed of a head coach. And while it’s true that the skills needed to make a great college coach a great NFL coach are different as well, criticism of Kelly as ‘just a college coach’ is short-sighted. You can’t pluck the next Bill Walsh off of Craigslist. Kelly is smart, creative, and a proven winner. He can bring a level of clarity to an otherwise dysfunctional organization. To me, he’s the most attractive option out there for the half-dozen or so teams that will need a new coach in 2013.


Great read...Kelly looks better then I thought Eagle_smiley.jpg


#2 Vee

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 03:56 PM

I've mentioned this before.

He may fail, but at least he has some innovative ideas.

There's no guarantee any coach will be successful. I'd rather have someone in here that might bring a new system to the NFL rather than rehash things the league has seen for years (WCO, Cover2, Wide9, etc)

I say, give it a shot. What could this franchise possibly have to lose at this point? The talent is here, let's see the FO take advantage of it!

#3 pgcd3

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:02 PM

Other than the eagles it's ridiculous to think most teams would view Kelly on the level of Andy Reid who has proven he can win in the NFL. His time has run out here clearly but let's be realistic

#4 FanSinceWayBack

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:13 PM

OP I didnt read the entire post, but I read enough to see where its going. I vote no to Chip Kelly being our head coach. Do I think he will be a great NFL coach? Idk, anything is possible. Ive just seen enough of this spread offence. Since we've had it for the past 14 years now. I want a more balanced approach. Plus Kelly has a great Oregon team in a WEAK conference. I dont know much of Kelly. As far as how he is as a person. Does he have thick skin? Chances are he wont be nearly as successful..can he handle that? Saban couldnt.

#5 IggleWalt

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:27 PM

I really would like to see a defensive minded coach here. I would like to see the Eagles going back to smacking teams in the mouth. On offense I want a guy who knows the importance of running the ball. I don't need a whiz kid running all kinds of shiny new passing plays. I want a guy who wants to go back to the basics. KISS, keep it simple stupid.

#6 we_gotta_believe

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:31 PM

Would much rather have Nolan

#7 Solomon

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:31 PM

I'm leary of Kelly only because I don't like gimmick offenses and I don't want another running QB. Those do not last in the NFL. If he can have that success calling an NF offense, I'm all for it.

#8 Lloyd

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:32 PM

I really would like to see a defensive minded coach here. I would like to see the Eagles going back to smacking teams in the mouth. On offense I want a guy who knows the importance of running the ball. I don't need a whiz kid running all kinds of shiny new passing plays. I want a guy who wants to go back to the basics. KISS, keep it simple stupid.


Yeah.

I need some college football fans to educate me on this one. When's the last time some hyped college coach transitioned to the NFL and made an impact in his first job?

Seems to me that most NFL coaches, even the young ones, started off as coordinators or position coaches. I have trouble buying into the college "innovator" to NFL head coach idea.

#9 e-a-g-l-e-s eagles!

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:33 PM

I'm leary of Kelly only because I don't like gimmick offenses and I don't want another running QB. Those do not last in the NFL. If he can have that success calling an NF offense, I'm all for it.


I am skeptical because all the same things were said about steve spurrier coming out of florida. it didn't work. MOREOVER, I am EXTREMELY concerned that oregon plays absolutely no defense. granted either does our defense but in the NFL you cannot just hope to score 40 every game.

#10 SirReal

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:33 PM

"Chip Kelly is as likely to be the next great coach as anyone" Is a null statement. It's true, but useless. Chip Kelly is also as likeley to be a massive bust as a head coach as anyone" is equally true, and equally useless.

No way to know until you try him.

#11 FanSinceWayBack

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:44 PM

When's the last time some hyped college coach transitioned to the NFL and made an impact in his first job?


Harbaugh in San Fran. He inherited a good team though and Im still shocked they had success last year AND so far somewhat this year.


Im all for a defensive minded coach as well. I like Nolan as a candidate.

#12 pgcd3

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:16 PM

Harbaugh in San Fran. He inherited a good team though and Im still shocked they had success last year AND so far somewhat this year.


Im all for a defensive minded coach as well. I like Nolan as a candidate.


I agree on Nolan. Always liked him and he's the type of guy who's done much better in a second stint.

Difference between Harbaugh and Kelly is that Harbaugh came from the NFL as did Schiano. I am very leery of college coaches who never coached or played in the NFL. That makes that world completely foreign to them. Seems like it would be a very tough adjustment.

#13 Rodney_Zero

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:20 PM

Harbaugh in San Fran. He inherited a good team though and Im still shocked they had success last year AND so far somewhat this year.


Im all for a defensive minded coach as well. I like Nolan as a candidate.

Yeah, a lot of 1st rd picks, LB's galore, and adding a real DC in Fangio too

#14 CountBlah

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:27 PM

Yeah.

I need some college football fans to educate me on this one. When's the last time some hyped college coach transitioned to the NFL and made an impact in his first job?

Seems to me that most NFL coaches, even the young ones, started off as coordinators or position coaches. I have trouble buying into the college "innovator" to NFL head coach idea.

Jimmy Johnson

#15 pgcd3

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:29 PM

Teams are looked at as talented when they do well. When they do badly people question the talent. If the Eagles did well next year people would say the coach inherited a talented team

#16 ChimpKelly

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:34 PM

Do not want

#17 ChimpKelly

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:34 PM

Do not want

#18 Rodney_Zero

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:41 PM

Jimmy Johnson

You forgot Bobby Ross, but then again you forgot Lou Holtz in NY too

#19 CountBlah

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:46 PM

You forgot Bobby Ross, but then again you forgot Lou Holtz in NY too

He said successful. Bobby Ross did get the Chargers to a superbowl, so that is as good as andy I suppose. But I think Lloyd's point is that it's VERY rare.

#20 Rodney_Zero

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:49 PM

He said successful. Bobby Ross did get the Chargers to a superbowl, so that is as good as andy I suppose. But I think Lloyd's point is that it's VERY rare.

I agree, Switzer did'nt coach that Dallas team to a SB win, the Asst coaches and players did

Jimmy Johnson

Johnson also ran a pro style attack on both D and O in college that translated very well to the NFL, and made out like a bandit on the Walker trade too

#21 Solomon

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:58 PM

Do not want

Do not want

But do you want?

#22 EagleVA

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:17 PM

Creative and intelligent football mind is all one needs to hear, you're not gonna with with a dumb HC.

#23 matchew88

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:25 PM

Interesting thread. I'm annoyed by people who post in a thread their opinion and not even read the article.

I've read the different opinions. The test will be if Kelly can thrive on less gimmicks, aka on soundness and fundamentals. I'm sick of the carnival of football delights with no depth and no consistency, aka Reid.

A lot of people know more than I do about this stuff, so I will just say that I am open to it.

#24 Vee

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:06 PM

I'm open to innovation, which is what Jimmy Johnson and (as stated in the article) Bill Walsh did.

Spurrier shouldn't be used as an example. He literally had Snyder blowing him to come over. He left because he got an "offer he couldn't refuse". I live here in DC. I remember. He made it clear that he was coming to work a 9-5 job, no sleeping at the office, no missed golf tee times. He was going to put in the minimum amount of hours and he thought he'd succeed.

When he didn't, he was ok. He was still making $5 mil a year, guaranteed. He was never motivated for success.

You can't find the next Bill Walsh, Jimmy Johnson, unless you're willing to gamble. This guy is at least worth a look and an interview.

#25 pgcd3

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:10 PM

FWIW if you look at the division leaders now 3 are 'retread' coaches. Coughlin, Bellichik, Fox. 4, Lovie Smith, Mike Smith, Kubiak & Harbaugh were all coordinators, And the other Harbaugh was a college coach.

#26 Vee

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:11 PM

He said successful. Bobby Ross did get the Chargers to a superbowl, so that is as good as andy I suppose. But I think Lloyd's point is that it's VERY rare.


Of course it's rare!

Coaches on dynasties are rare...

Belichick
Johnson
Walsh

those are your innovative head coaches in the last 30 years.

If they were easy to spot, the list would be a lot longer.

#27 robnail

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:47 PM

As far as I have read his practices are a thing to watch and he is very very strict. I hope he lands with the Eagles with a strong DC and his entire staff. His no nonsense approach would be most welcome and he'd get rid of the whiners fasttttttttttt.

#28 GoEagles614

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:29 PM

If Kelly comes Vick stays or we draft Geno Smith

#29 FanSinceWayBack

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:58 PM

If Kelly comes Vick stays or we draft Geno Smith

Please not another scrambling QB! CMON PEOPLE!

#30 Blitz24

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 08:15 AM

Here is some more info on Chip Kelly. This guy is explains everything about his system and why it would work with any QB.

Please read it, it actually makes him more interesting option then before. Its clearly that people that bashing him know nothing about him, his offence or his training methods.

http://www.grantland...-familiar-seems