It has been several days since the Philadelphia Eagles’ front office turmoil ended with a restructuring that resulted in the promotions of former general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly. Does the move look as good now as it may have appeared then?
In truth, we know that the change from GM to Executive Vice President of Football Operations was a promotion in name (and salary) only for Roseman. He went from having a direct hand in evaluating and acquiring talent for the Eagles, to now managing the team’s contracts, medical staff and equipment. Important work, but a demotion nonetheless.
Kelly was the true winner of the situation. As announced on January 2, he now heads the player personnel department and will hand-pick an executive to replace the ousted Tom Gamble, whose departure lead to last week’s power struggle at the NovaCare. If having the ultimate say in who was on the roster was his goal, Kelly has more than achieved that aim.
For his part, Kelly proved that, for now, he is the top man in Philadelphia. What Chip wants, Chip gets. Since his inaugural season with the team ended with a 10-6 record and a trip to the playoffs, the motto “In Chip We Trust” has been a favorite line of fans. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie decided to give the sentiment a go when he awarded Kelly the win in the struggle for supremacy with Roseman.
Lurie didn’t have much other choice. Philadelphia has bought in completely to Kelly’s way of doing things, from the tempo of the offense to smoothies to changes in the team’s culture. Abandoning that after just two years due to a coach who was very unhappy with the Gamble firing was simply not an option.
For better or for worse, we will all now “ride or die” with Chip. We will not have to wonder who’s responsible for the Marcus Smiths on the roster. The buck stops with Kelly. Now, it’s all in his hands. And we are left to wonder if that is truly the best move for the team.
The Daily News’ Les Bowen sums up the high stakes of the move well:
“I think Chip Kelly is really, really smart, one of the sharpest people I’ve met in sports.
Eagles fans had better hope I’m right about that, because the restructuring the Eagles announced Friday, buried beneath layers of horrid ‘corporatespeak’, means their hopes and dreams are now totally riding on Kelly being not just a good coach but a transcendent, bronze-bust-in-Canton-level figure.”
Under Kelly, Philadelphia has gone 20-12 in two years, with a trip to the playoffs in 2013. It certainly is an impressive start. But even with two winning seasons, a number of issues were apparent with the team, from play calling down to the level of talent. Has Kelly shown in his short time in the NFL that he is ready to handle the power he now wields as head of the player personnel department? Regardless of how much you like Kelly, the answer is no.
It has been argued that the new structure is more in line with those of teams that have seen prolonged success in the NFL, such as the New England Patriots. It’s clearly worked for them. Will it work with similar levels of success for the Eagles?
Philadelphia made it clear in 2013 that they wanted Chip Kelly, and in the opening days of 2015 Lurie reaffirmed that commitment. Without great risk, there can be no great reward. The Eagles have long been in search of the great reward that is the Lombardi trophy. As the offseason continues to unfold and the team acquires draft picks and free agents, we will begin to see if clear steps are made towards that faith paying off.