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

Mike PounceyJul 23 12:33p

Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (hip) could miss the first eight weeks of the season because of the hip surgery he had this offseason, according to a source. He [ More ]

Evan RodriguezJul 23 12:23p

Buffalo Bills FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and TE Chris Gragg (cramps) were hospitalized because of complications from cramps and were getting hydrated, according to head coach Doug Marrone. Rodriguez [ More ]

Dustin HopkinsJul 23 12:20p

Buffalo Bills PK Dustin Hopkins will have to try to make the roster as a kickoff specialist, according to head coach Doug Marrone.

Vernon DavisJul 23 12:13p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis has reported to camp Wednesday, July 23, according to an Instagram post from 49ers S C.J. Spillman.

Jason BabinJul 23 12:03p

New York Jets signed DE Jason Babin (Jaguars) to a two-year contract, with the second year being a team option. He's expected to serve as a situational pass rusher.

Reggie WayneJul 23 11:13a

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (knee) said he has been medically cleared to practice. He's expected to be limited, though, especially in the near future.

Kraig UrbikJul 23 10:53a

Buffalo Bills OG Chris Hairston continued to receive first-team repetitions at right guard in the red zone drills Wednesday, July 23. OG Kraig Urbik struggled with first-team the previous day.

Jamaal CharlesJul 23 09:53a

Updating previous reports, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles will not report to training camp Wednesday, July 23, barring a major contract breakthrough.

Vick BallardJul 23 09:33a

Indianapolis Colts RB Vick Ballard (knee) reported to camp and has passed his physical.

Rob GronkowskiJul 23 08:53a

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee) has been cleared for contact and will not be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, according to head coach Bill Belichick.

Evan RodriguezJul 23 08:43a

Buffalo Bills TE Chris Gragg (cramps), FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and CB Brandon E. Smith (leg) were out of practice Wednesday, July 23. OT Seantrel Henderson (hip) returned to action.

Rashad JenningsJul 23 08:23a

New York Giants RBs Rashad Jennings, David Wilson and Andre Williams could be used in a three-man rotation this season to keep Jennings fresh.

Caleb McSurdyJul 23 02:53a

The St. Louis Rams waived four players Tuesday, July 22, as they cut loose OL Abasi Salimu, WR Diontae Spencer, LB Caleb McSurdy, and LB Tavarius Wilson.

Carl NicksJul 23 02:43a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey, G Carl Nicks and DE Da'Quan Bowers may be fighting for roster spots once training camp begins due to other competition for their [ More ]

Chris CulliverJul 23 01:13a

San Francisco 49ers CB Chris Culliver (knee) has been cleared to take part in practice when training camp opens this week. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament to [ More ]

Ben TateJul 23 01:13a

Cleveland Browns RBs Ben Tate and Terrance West will compete for the starting tailback job during training camp and the preseason, and it's a battle head coach Mike Pettine [ More ]

Joel BitonioJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OG Joel Bitonio (ankle) lined up with the first-team offense during organized team activities (OTAs), and he held the spot until he suffered a sprained ankle June [ More ]

Paul McQuistanJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OLs Garrett Gilkey, Paul McQuistan and Jason Pinkston are fighting for position in the pecking order at right guard, and one of them might even push OG [ More ]

Craig RobertsonJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns LBs Christian Kirksey and Craig Robertson will compete for an inside linebacker job during training camp, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Joe HadenJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns CBs Justin Gilbert and Buster Skrine will compete for the starting cornerback job opposite CB Joe Haden in training camp. 'We weren't going to hand Justin that [ More ]

Gary BarnidgeJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns TEs Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray will battle for the No. 2 tight end spot during training camp and the preseason.

Eli ManningJul 23 12:23a

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) has shown no ill effects during camp from ankle surgery that sidelined him for earlier offseason activities.

Tom CoughlinJul 22 11:53p

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was not happy that several players were forced to leave practice with dehydration issues Tuesday, July 22. 'It pisses me off,' Coughlin [ More ]

Brandon LloydJul 22 11:23p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson is the frontrunner for the No. 3 WR job, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, but he added that neither Johnson nor WR [ More ]

Darren SprolesJul 22 11:13p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles' ability to win one-on-one matchups in space is what head coach Chip Kelly plans to exploit this season. Kelly said opposing defenses played a [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 11:03p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and WR Tori Gurley had miscommunications on three occasions Tuesday, July 22, resulting in two incomplete passes and an interception. Joe Buscaglia of WGR [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:53p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and QB Jeff Tuel are in an open competition for the backup quarterback job, head coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday, July 22.

Brian MoormanJul 22 10:43p

Buffalo Bills P Brian Moorman was more effective than P Jake Dombrowski on punts in terms of both average hang time and average distance Tuesday, July 22.

Titus YoungJul 22 09:53p

Updating a previous story, free-agent WR Titus Young (Lions) was charged with felony battery with serious bodily injury from an alleged July 8 incident inside a Los Angeles-area hospital. [ More ]

Ryan MathewsJul 22 09:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews' rookie contract will expire after the 2014 season, which means this could be his final year with the organization, in the opinion of [ More ]

Mario WilliamsJul 22 09:43p

Buffalo Bills DE Mario Williams, DT Marcell Dareus and DT Kyle D. Williams were all rotated out of the lineup at times during team drills Tuesday, July 22. LB [ More ]

Nigel BradhamJul 22 09:23p

Buffalo Bills LB Nigel Bradham was one of eight players to record sacks during team drills Tuesday, July 22. The team's pass rush has been consistent since camp began, [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group