Unpredictable Eagles never fail to shock us
January 18, 2013, 2:00 pm
Is there a more captivating serial soap opera than the one regularly produced by the Eagles' organization? Just when you think you have them figured out, just when the plot appears to stagnate and you believe you know how things will unfold, the Birds baffle you with the unexpected. The writers for Homeland and Breaking Bad couldn’t come up with as many twists and turns.
Chip Kelly is the Eagles' new head coach. If you didn’t see it coming, don’t worry. It was the astonishing finale to a strange saga no one predicted.
“Things kind of reached, you could say, a crescendo [Tuesday night],” Jeffrey Lurie said at Thursday’s press conference. “We were really committed to seeing whether we could welcome Chip as our new head coach.”
The next few words uttered by the owner were hard to hear. There were too many cameras clicking in the NovaCare Conference auditorium.
The Eagles really do know how to grab our attention, don’t they? They’re masters at it. Have been for a long time.
When last we left the Eagles, they were searching for a head coach to replace Andy Reid. The process lasted a while. They interviewed 11 candidates (listed in no particular order): Chip Kelly, Brian Kelly, Bill O’Brien, Brian Billick, Ken Whisenhunt, Lovie Smith, Jay Gruden, Mike Nolan, Keith Armstrong, Mike McCoy and Gus Bradley. And then Gus Bradley again.
That second interview was something. People tracked Bradley’s plane online as it made its way to Philadelphia, and news helicopters hovered over Lurie’s Main Line Mansion to get a glimpse of the guy.
It seemed the Eagles were smitten with him. They brought him over to the house to meet the family. They had a long talk last lasted hours and hours. They looked like they were going to get hitched. Then they eloped with a would-be flame that they’ve pined for, a guy who suddenly returned the affection after initially spurning their advances.
Boom. Suddenly Kelly and the Eagles formed an unexpected union. It was a shocking script that could have appeared on Bravo or MTV or maybe Maury.
“It’s a really exciting time for me,” Kelly said. “It was a difficult decision ... obviously there aren’t many opportunities to coach in the National Football League. There are 32 opportunities. It’s a special situation.”
Special? Maybe. Entertaining and impossible to ignore? Absolutely.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. The Eagles have gotten really good at making our jaws drop over the last 14 years. You’d think we’d start to expect the unexpected with them. A quick review of some of the many curveballs that have buckled our knees during that time:
They hired a little-known quarterbacks coach from Green Bay, a guy who morphed from anonymity to the best head coach in franchise history.
They brought in Michael Vick.
They said Donovan McNabb was the quarterback – then they traded him to Washington on Easter Sunday.
They said Kevin Kolb was the quarterback – then days later they demoted him and promoted Vick.
They gave Sean McDermott a vote of confidence as defensive coordinator – then less than a week later they fired him.
They promoted Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator.
They traded Kolb.
They parted ways with Joe Banner.
They fired Castillo during the season.
They released Jason Babin during the season.
They fired Jim Washburn during the season.
They fired Reid.
Then they hired Chip Kelly after Kelly said he was staying at Oregon and the Eagles said they were moving on without him.
And, most recently, Lurie and his longtime friend Banner took some shots at each other (see story).
And ... fin.
Those are just the ones I can remember.
Now the Eagles have a former college coach with no NFL experience and a dynamic offensive system that may or may not work at this level. (Also he wears a visor.) This could go well for both parties or it could crater and sink them all. It will be fascinating to find out.
Kelly said he had to weigh the “knowns versus unknowns” before making his decision. With the Eagles, isn’t everything unknown?
There’s a scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Chevy Chase’s character is asked whether he’s surprised. “Surprised?” he responds. “I couldn’t be more surprised if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.”
Philadelphians know the feeling.
E-mail John Gonzalez at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:27 PM