The General’s Top Three Candidates To Replace Chip Kelly
The Philadelphia Eagles entered this year under total control of Chip Kelly. The former University of Oregon head coach took over the general manager duties in his third year with the Eagles after back-to-back ten win seasons. But after some head-scratching trades and signings along with some underwhelming play, the Eagles now sit at 6-9 going into the last game of the season. The Chip Kelly experiment did not turn out as it was expected going into year three and with that, there was some blowback. Per ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, Eagles president Jeffrey Lurie wanted to strip Kelly of his personnel control. After all, Chip traded away running back LaSean “Shady” McCoy for banged up linebacker Kiko Alonso, let dynamic wide receiver Jeremy Maclin walk in free agency and signed cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and running back DeMarco Murray. Besides the trade of quarterback Nick Foles for quarterback Sam Bradford (which was somewhat successful), all of his other moves were not successful. Chip apparently did not want to give up the personnel control. And when he did not do that, Lurie called his bluff. Chip Kelly is now out as the head coach of the Eagles and the team that thought they had their successor to Andy Reid is looking for a head coach again. There are many candidates that are out there, but here are three that could be on their radar.
The first call Lurie could make is to Cincinnati. No, he is not going to be speaking to Marvin Lewis and trying to bring him to Philly. The man he should be looking to speak to there is offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Under Jackson’s tutelage, the Bengals are averaging 26 points per game this year. And each year he has been there, they have gotten better and better offensively. The good thing about Hue is he has head coaching experience and his offenses have been known to be versatile. His addition in Philly would be huge for DeMarco Murray. Hue likes to run traditional running formations with a fullback and that would allow Murray to run more downhill like he is accustomed to. But along with the traditional formations, Hue can also bring in the explosive formations with three or four wide receivers and is also used to having wide receivers that he can flex out in the slot (Philadelphia has Zach Ertz that he can use that way). Whatever he has offensively, he makes it work and gets the most out of it. And most of all, he would cut out some of the empty possessions that the Eagles had all this season. The one question mark about Hue would be who he would bring in as defensive coordinator. That would be huge for the Eagles due to them being in a 3-4 for the last three seasons.
But Hue is not the only offensive coordinator out there that people are going to be looking at. Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase was the hot name on the coaching circuit last season when he was calling plays for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ offense. But unfortunately for him, he did not land a head coaching gig and ended up following John Fox to Chicago. Some thought some of the shine would wear off, but he has still been solid as an offensive coordinator in Chicago. The best thing he has done in Chicago is coaching Jay Cutler. The veteran out of Vanderbilt is having one of his best seasons (interception-wise) in four years. Gase would instill an offense that would be similar to the one that Chip Kelly ran in terms of pace and getting rid of the ball quickly. But the one difference is he uses the running game better than Chip does. That would help utilize DeMarco Murray more and also help the offense and whoever is quarterbacking that team next season. And the defense more than likely would stay in a 3-4 since that is what he is used to having. The one question always about Gase is how smart is he and did the quarterbacks he had make him look better than what he is? Are the Eagles willing to hedge their bet financially that he is the creator of the system? Only time will tell.
The Eagles had problems offensively this season, but they did have some issues defensively, especially with their defensive backs. Teryl Austin is a former defensive backs coach in his career and he also is the defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. The defense was excellent last season under him when he had defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and crew running wild up front. This season, they got off to a rough start, but they were able to get it going this season down the stretch. One thing that Austin would bring to the Eagles was a sense of urgency at all times. His defenses always hustle and play at breakneck speed. Adding him to this organization would mean a switch of defenses (from the 3-4 to the 4-3), but it would also mean that there would be a former defensive backs coach there to maybe help bring the Eagles defensive backfield, which has struggled the last two seasons. If he could solve that and then keep the rest of the defense on par, then the Eagles may be solid there. The one question (along with who will be playing quarterback next season in Philly) will be what will the offense look like? Will he run more of a power offense to support a physical defense or will the offense be something of a wide-open offense. The offensive ideas that he could potentially tell the Eagles brass (should he get the call for an interview) could make or break his candidacy for the Philadelphia job. But either way, he would be a solid hire due to his infectious energy and his accountability he holds players to.
These three candidates would fit in Philly. Of course there are some question marks about them, but there are also some positives that they will bring to the Eagles organization. And most of all, each hire has something that will help the prized free agents the Eagles signed last offseason. The reality is Murray and Maxwell are not going anywhere anytime soon. You may as well bring in a coach that can help maximize their abilities instead of letting them waste away and having to eat all that guaranteed money. It should be interesting to see who they hire next. But as far as the Chip Kelly experiment, it all went horribly wrong once they gave a man that had won nothing absolute power.