Ever since the day Chip Kelly made the leap to the NFL from the college ranks, his relationship with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has left many to think Kelly might be able to emulate his friend’s success, at least to a small degree.
As we know now, that did not happen as Kelly’s my-way-or-the-highway approach never landed in Philadelphia. With the Eagles cutting ties with Kelly this week, responses have been flowing in from just about every angle possible, including from Belichick himself.
“Yeah, I would say it’s actually disappointing,” Belichick told CSNNE.com’s Phil Perry. “Chip Kelly to me is a really good football coach. He does a great job. I think he’s done a good job with that team.”
The Eagles had back-to-back winning seasons in Kelly’s first two seasons on the job, but have scuffled to a 6-9 mark entering the final week of the NFL’s regular season. Kelly was given more control over personnel this past year, which has led to many more questions about his player management along the way. Maybe it was too soon to pull the plug on this experiment in Philadelphia, or maybe it wasn’t. That can be left to debate. Of course, no matter the long-term visions a franchise may have, the reality is this is a win-now league and Kelly was quickly spiraling down the wrong path in Philadelphia, at least according to Eagles CEO Jeffery Lurie. (He may not have said it that way, but firing Kelly clearly sends that message).
“But pretty much everybody’s on a one-year contract in this league,” Belichick added. “I don’t know how you build a program in one year.”
The simple answer is you can’t. It takes time through the draft and free agency to sculpt a team to your liking. Kelly appeared to be taking small steps in that direction, but the results did not develop quickly enough as players did not advance or grow fast enough and other positions were torn apart by Kelly’s roster management, which put some pieces in bad spots from the start (DeMarco Murray, for example).
“Chip’s a great coach. He’ll end up somewhere, and he’ll do a great job there,” Belichick said.
So here’s a potentially scary thought; Chip Kelly, New England Patriots offensive coordinator? Kelly has already said he would like to continue coaching in the NFL, and if the Patriots lose Josh McDaniels to a head coaching opportunity elsewhere, New England will have an opening for Kelly. Considering the coaching carousel has already stopped at the college level, taking on an offensive coordinator position at New England under his pal Belichick might be a pretty solid landing spot for Kelly, and he could get a better understanding of what worked as a head coach in the NFL from one of the best.
It almost makes too much sense not to happen.