2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Column: Hiring Kelly risky move for Eagles

    2013-01-16 17:47

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By TIM DAHLBERG
AP Sports Columnist

Chip Kelly made his bones as a football coach by doing things fast.

By most standards, though, his leap into the NFL was agonizingly slow.

The Philadelphia Eagles finally got their man Wednesday when Kelly reversed course and agreed to replace the fired Andy Reid. The news came as a shock to most in Oregon, where Kelly was last reported to be busy recruiting and getting the new uniforms ready for next season.

It took a while, but in the end the lure of the NFL won out over job security and fame in the Pacific Northwest. It almost always does with coaches who learn early in their careers that the best way to the top is to keep climbing the ladder.

But there's a reason Kelly couldn't bring himself to say yes to the Cleveland Browns, rebuffed the Buffalo Bills and initially turned the Eagles down when they first came begging for him to sign. There's a reason he went back to Oregon, seemingly ending his flirtation with the NFL for the year.

Because no matter how good college coaches are - and Kelly was superb in four seasons at Oregon - winning games on Saturdays is not a guarantee for success in the NFL.

Nick Saban found that out when he left LSU for the Miami Dolphins in 2005. After two mediocre seasons in Miami, he couldn't leave town fast enough when Alabama came courting with an offer to return to the college ranks.

Now he's got three BCS championships at Alabama, a statue of himself outside the stadium and a reputation as a genius in the college ranks. All that while still making NFL-type money coaching the Crimson Tide.

``I kind of learned from that experience that maybe (college) is where I belonged,'' Saban said earlier this month when he returned to Miami to win the BCS title in the same stadium where he coached the Dolphins. ``And I'm really happy and at peace with all of that.''

Steve Spurrier seems plenty happy at South Carolina, too, just like he once was in Florida. He won a national championship with the Gators and might have stayed there for life had the Washington Redskins not come calling with what was then the richest coaching contract in NFL history.

The head ball coach went 12-20 in two seasons, losing 10 of his last 12, including a home shutout against Dallas that had fans pelting the sidelines with snowballs in disgust. Spurrier was so eager to get out of Washington that he quit before he could be fired, giving up the remaining $15 million left on his contract.

``Maybe someone else can do better,'' Spurrier said then. ``It's a long, tough grind, coaching in the NFL.''

It is, and there's only so much a college coach can do to prepare for the job. The Xs and Os are all mostly the same, but the parity in the NFL is why coaches spend 16 hours a day almost every day trying to find some way to get an edge on the opposition.

Like those before him, Kelly will go from worrying about recruiting to worrying about a salary cap. He'll go from dealing with college kids who don't have two quarters in their pocket to dealing with millionaires with entourages. He'll go from being able to fool other teams with his offense to being able to fool no one.

And he'll have to do it with no NFL experience at all. Before moving to Oregon six years ago, Kelly's biggest job was offensive coordinator at New Hampshire. And while his record at Oregon is a gaudy one - 46-7 - the reality is he's only been a head coach for four years.

Unlike Kelly, Saban had some experience in the NFL before going to Miami, serving as a defensive backs coach in Houston for one year. Still, he struggled with the reality that the NFL is a very different beast.

``I had a very, very difficult time thinking that I could impact the organization in the way that I wanted to or in the way that I am able to in college,'' Saban said. ``And it was very difficult for me. Because there is a lot of parity in the NFL. There's a lot of rules in the NFL.''

That doesn't mean a college coach can't succeed in the NFL. Jimmy Johnson was new to the league when he took over in Dallas and went on to win back-to-back Super Bowls, while Barry Switzer followed him there to win a ring of his own. Jim Harbaugh didn't miss a beat in moving from Stanford to the 49ers and Pete Carroll has found success in Seattle after a remarkable run at Southern California.

Carroll, however, is in his third stint in the league after failing miserably with the Patriots and the Jets. And Harbaugh both played in the league and had a year as quarterbacks coach in Oakland, so the learning curve was not so steep.

Kelly inherits a team that has plenty of talent, along with a reputation for underachieving. He will undoubtedly install a version of the speedy Oregon offense in Philadelphia, and Michael Vick seems to be the perfect fit to run it.

The Eagles should be better next season, if only because it's hard to get worse than the team that sleepwalked its way to a 4-12 record this year.

But Kelly is taking a chance and it's a career chance. He goes from a school that is a perennial contender for the national title to a league where only the New England Patriots are perennial contenders for the Super Bowl.

There are no cupcakes on the schedule, no guarantees that the team he fields will be any better than the one he takes over.

And the trail is littered with coaches with big reputations who have gone before him and failed.

----

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Tom BradyJan 22 10:12a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is now scheduled to speak to the media Thursday, Jan. 22, and he could come under fire due to the report of deflated [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 21 09:03p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) has had knee surgery, head coach Marvin Lewis confirmed Wednesday, Jan. 21. While there has been concern Burfict might have to begin the [ More ]

Mike WallaceJan 21 09:03p

Miami Dolphins WR Mike Wallace's future with the team is unclear. General manager Dennis Hickey would not say Wednesday, Jan. 21, whether Wallace will be back or if his [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 21 04:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel could benefit from new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, according to Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr. Carr said DeFilippo will do great with Manziel, adding [ More ]

Richard ShermanJan 21 04:23p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) said he will practice in a brace, but should not have any limitations on gameday.

Marc TrestmanJan 21 03:53p

Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said he wants to learn the specificities of the team's offense instead of changing it. Head coach John Harbaugh said Trestman's familiarity and [ More ]

Blake BortlesJan 21 03:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles should be able to develop under new offensive coordinator Greg Olson, according to general manager Dave Caldwell. Caldwell said Olson has the ability to [ More ]

Blake BortlesJan 21 03:13p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles developed bad habits and may need to start over, in the opinion of NFL Films guru Greg Cosell.

Latavius MurrayJan 21 12:53p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray is likely to be the team's lead back in 2015, and new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave plans tailor his system to Murray's talents. Musgrave [ More ]

Peyton ManningJan 21 11:03a

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning plans to return in 2015, pending the results of his annual physical, according to three sources The Denver Post's Woody Paige trusts. The test [ More ]

Rashad JenningsJan 21 10:23a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings could have a veteran running back to complement or compete with him next season. The team could possibly add a change-of-pace back and [ More ]

Trent RichardsonJan 21 09:13a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson was suspended and deactivated for the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 18.

Joique BellJan 20 11:23p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell had minor surgery last week to clean up his knee and Achilles' tendon. He is expected to return in time for organized offseason workouts.

Doug MarroneJan 20 05:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said the team is committed to remaining a zone-blocking team. However, new assistant coach and offensive line coach Doug Marrone didn't use a [ More ]

Peyton ManningJan 20 05:13p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning remains unsure of his future with the team, but head coach Gary Kubiak said he plans to sit down with Manning and talk about [ More ]

Tyler BrayJan 20 04:23p

Kansas City Chiefs QB Tyler Bray (knee) has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Marc TrestmanJan 20 03:43p

Free-agent head coach Marc Trestman (Bears) was hired by the Baltimore Ravens as the team's offensive coordinator Tuesday, Jan. 20. Trestman was previously the head coach of the Chicago Bears.

C.J. AndersonJan 20 01:33p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson, who finished the year with 849 rushing yards, 324 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, is looking forward to his role in new head coach [ More ]

Latavius MurrayJan 19 09:53p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray could benefit from offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who has used a run-heavy style in the past.

Reggie WayneJan 19 07:03p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (triceps) is unsure if he will be returning for another season. Wayne was targeted just twice in the loss to the New England Patriots [ More ]

Richard ShermanJan 19 03:43p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) suffered a sprained elbow during the NFC Championship game, according to a source, but should be able to play in the Super Bowl.

Randall CobbJan 19 02:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb said his preference is to re-sign with the team this offseason. 'Of course (I want to be back). I think I've made that [ More ]

Marshawn LynchJan 19 02:13p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch may consider retirement if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Lynch has reportedly told people in private that [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 19 01:03p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder), who is dealing with a dislocated shoulder, said he will play in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.

LeGarrette BlountJan 19 12:43p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries in the team's win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game [ More ]

Richard ShermanJan 18 11:13p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) suffered an elbow injury in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 18, but he said after the win [ More ]

Gary KubiakJan 18 10:02p

Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak will take the Denver Broncos head coaching position, as expected, multiple outlets are reporting Sunday, Jan. 18.

Justin BrittJan 18 01:52p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared QB B.J. Daniels, TE Cooper Helfet, DL David King, SS Jeron Johnson, OT Justin Britt, OL Keavon Milton, CB Marcus Burley inactive for Week 20.

Jeff JanisJan 18 01:42p

The Green Bay Packers have declared DL Bruce Gaston, LB Carl Bradford, CB Demetri Goodson, RB DuJuan Harris, C Garth Gerhart, WR Jeff Janis, TE Justin Perillo inactive for Week 20.

Andrew LuckJan 18 01:02p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck has been working with the team on a contract extension that could be the richest contract in the NFL, according to a source.

Carson PalmerJan 18 10:22a

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (knee) said he feels great and that he is ahead of schedule in his rehab from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Palmer started jogging [ More ]

Trent RichardsonJan 17 03:12p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (personal) did not make the trip to New England for the AFC Championship game.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group