Why I am not mad at Chip Kelly

I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan. If you do not know the sorrowful implications of that self-deprecating statement, consider yourself fortunate. Throughout my childhood my dad’s painful words “maybe next year” were an annual tradition. Sure, my football team has made it close to winning the Super Bowl—actually several times in recent memory. But no one cares about close. The truth is that the Philadelphia Eagles have never won a Super Bowl. Never. Ever. And that means we are bad.

But a fan base that is notoriously known for their passion and an “adore you one moment hate and curse you the next” attitude always expects greatness. Why? No clue. I wonder if we are just so starved for a championship (and not NFC East Championship) that it gives us a diluted sense of optimism. Every year we put ourselves “out there” thinking this year could be the year—and every year we come up empty.

That is why I am not mad at Chip Kelly. Chip Kelly (the Eagles coach) came in 2012 with an incredibly successful college coaching resume. He came in as the personification of excitement and innovation. Everything he did was fast. What he brought was a big change from the old regime. And with that change he brought with him a dangerous four letter word: hope.

Coach Chip Kelly
Chip Kelly is an offensive guy who features a high flying, never huddling, break-neck speed attack. The idea is if you snap the ball fast enough and keep pounding the defense, they will eventually get tired and you will experience some success. Though there have been doubters, the truth is that his offense has been pretty successful thus far in the NFL.

Zoom ahead to 2015. "Coach" Chip Kelly was made "Totalitarian Ruler" Chip Kelly. He was given full powers over player personnel. This meant that he and he alone could decide who the Eagles draft, sign, release, and trade. That is a lot of power, but if Bill Belichick (a somewhat successful NFL coach) can do it—why can’t Chip?

To say that "Totalitarian Chip" made some big changes in 2015 would be an understatement. Starting quarterback Nick Foles was traded. Starting running back Lesean McCoy was traded. Starting receiver Jeremy Maclin was not re-signed. Pro Bowl lineman Evan Mathis was cut. Altogether, Eagles fans saw a total of 9 starters (there are 22 starters between offense and defense) leave in one way or another. This was never before seen roster turnover. And did I mention the previous year that the Eagles record was 10-6? Many fans immediate reaction, including my own, was: “if it ain't broke, why are we fixing it?”

Fast forward to November. The Eagles are currently sitting at 4-5. Last week they lost to the Miami Dolphins (translation: we are bad). Clearly the vision of a winning team Chip Kelly had when he made all the extensive changes listed above has not yet come to fruition.

So why am I not that mad at Chip, you ask? Didn't he ruin my team?
I am not mad at him because he tried something. He went for broke. He took a risk, and the thing about risks is that they are usually risky. When you make big changes (and not just in football) there is always a chance of total and complete failure, and that is why I am glad Chip Kelly did what he did. He was not content with mediocrity as many others would have been in his shoes. He realized that having a “pretty good” and “decent” football team is not good enough.  And at the end of the day, is being 10-6 and not making the playoffs really that much better than going 4-12 and not making the playoffs? Nope. I don’t want a good football team. I want a Super Bowl. Thank you Chip for trying something.



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