Chip Kelly: What Potential NFL Team Must Have to Make Jump to Pros Successful

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIJanuary 3, 2013

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks looks on while taking on the Wisconsin Badgers at the 98th Rose Bowl Game on January 2, 2012 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Oregon's Chip Kelly is perhaps the hottest name being tossed around as a possible candidate for one of the many NFL head coaching vacancies.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Kelly is being pursued by the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns.

Kelly is widely considered an offensive genius, but we've heard that term before as it relates to a successful college coach potentially making the jump to the NFL. We've seen Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino and others fail in the NFL, despite enjoying tons of success in college.

What does Kelly need to help him avoid a similar fate in the pro ranks?

Recently, we've also seen Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll (his third stint as an NFL coach) do well in the NFL after winning in college.

Three things stand out as vital elements in determining Kelly's potential success as an NFL head coach.


The Right QB

If a team decides to bring Kelly in, they must have a QB capable of executing his spread offense. The team must, at the very least, make a commitment to bring in someone that fits in quickly.

Kelly's system isn't designed to run a QB like a running back. It's designed to create the confusion and threat that either the QB or RB will run on the read-option plays. Still, that's just one aspect of the offense.

The spread is primarily based on speed, timely play calls delivered from the sidelines to the QB, pace and a signal-caller capable of making solid decisions. The sooner Kelly can get the right man under center—or in the shotgun—the better his chances at success.

Because of this, the Eagles and Buffalo Bills' jobs are the most attractive. The Browns aren't likely to scrap the Brandon Weeden project, although Colt McCoy might be a nice fit.

The Bills seem more likely to look at another QB besides Ryan Fitzpatrick to match with Kelly's system. C.J. Spiller would be an absolute beast under Kelly. His speed in respect to a viable read-option QB could be deadly.

The Eagles' Michael Vick has reportedly expressed desire to play in Kelly's system (, but it seems unlikely the team would bring him back, even with Kelly's system seemingly a nice match for Vick's skill.

Even without Vick, the Eagles' LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown figure to shine in the spread, and the team could commit to targeting a QB that fits the system as well.

The great thing about searching for a QB for Kelly's system now is that the league hasn't fully bought into the offense yet. Many of the QBs capable of running it successfully may be available later in the draft, or through low-value trades.


Solid and Established Defensive Culture 

As brilliant as Kelly is on the offensive side, his Ducks teams were exposed for their deficiencies on defense against elite offensive programs. Don't forget about the 51 points Matt Barkley and USC hung on the Ducks this season.

We may see another example of this in the Fiesta Bowl when the Ducks tangle with Collin Klein and the Kansas State Wildcats.

Coaches with specific specialties must have amazing players and coaches on the side of the ball that is outside of their comfort zone. When they don't, they end up like Lovie Smith, out of a job because of the failures of his team that fell outside of his specialty.

The Browns have the best young defense of the three teams reportedly interested in Kelly, though the Bills have some talented players on defense as well.

I'd place the Eagles third on this list. Their defense is old and overrated in the secondary, and too young in the front seven to trust.


Patience From Ownership

This may not be an overnight success story. That will especially be the case if the QB isn't in place.

The ownership will have to allow Kelly some time to progress. In this regard, the Eagles' organization would likely be last on the list here.

Philadelphia is a city that expects to win—especially coming off what was largely a winning era under Andy Reid. If Kelly's teams struggle in the first two seasons, the public backlash will be vicious. That will only put pressure on the Eagles' ownership to make changes.

Buffalo and Cleveland are more likely to offer Kelly the time and room to grow. Honestly speaking, neither team has had much success in recent memory.

The standards simply aren't as high with the Browns and Bills. 

Furthermore, new ownership in Cleveland and a new president in Buffalo makes for the perfect environment for a system that could revolutionize the NFL game. The Browns or Bills could be a part of a trendsetting system that becomes the next big thing in the copycat NFL.


Where's the Best Fit?

All things considered, I'd give the Bills the slight edge over the Browns. The dilemma of what to do with Weeden trumps the superior defense. 

The Eagles and Philly are too daunting of a task for a coach in Kelly's potential situation.

Buffalo isn't a completely ready-made situation, but it offers prospects in the most important areas of concern.


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