Cleveland Browns: Don't Underestimate Reported New Head Coach Chip Kelly

Wes StueveContributor IIIJanuary 4, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks looks on in the third quarter of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 3, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It isn't official yet, but the word is out there.

Oregon's Chip Kelly is very close to being the Cleveland Browns' next head coach, according to

Thus far, the reported hiring has been met with significant optimism, much more than one would expect from a team that has been through five coaches since 1999. Also, there's the fact that Kelly is a college coach with no NFL experience. That hasn't worked out well in the past, as NFL fans are all too aware.

But even with the generally positive attitude, people are underselling Kelly. There's talk that Brandon Weeden doesn't fit his offense or that Kelly will need to revamp Cleveland's offensive line. People have even suggested Trent Richardson doesn't fit Kelly's offense.

All these people are making the same mistake. They're underestimating Chip Kelly.

Everyone likes to talk about Kelly's offense and the types of players he needs to run it. This is ignoring one key fact about Kelly.

He's an innovator.

Kelly's offense is as innovative as it gets, with nothing else in football comparing to it. There are other takes on the zone-read offense, but his is different. He came up with his own concepts, and many of them were considered outlandish when he started utilizing them. Now he is praised as one of the most brilliant coaches in football.

This is the guy Bill Belichick frequently talks to and asks for advice. That's high praise.

At Oregon, Kelly has utilized running backs ranging from Jonathan Stewart and LeGarrette Blount to LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas. He adjusts his offense to his personnel.

So while Weeden may not be the ideal quarterback for Kelly, the 49-year-old head coach will adapt. He will build his scheme around whoever he needs to. In the end, Kelly may replace Weeden, but don't assume anything.

Many question whether or not Kelly's offense can translate to the NFL. It's impossible to say, but San Francisco and Carolina have found success utilizing similar concepts. Also, when facing an NFL-type defense in Stanford the past three years, Oregon has averaged 39.6 points per game. 

If it doesn't work, though, Kelly will do what he's always done: adapt.

However, Kelly's offense was just the first thing to attract NFL teams. It was not what sold the deal. Albert Breer made this clear.

NFL teams bought into Kelly because of what he brings to an organization. His leadership and his ability to find strong coaches and executives were both paramount. 

Many head coaches at all levels of the game don't involve themselves in the X's and O's. A head coach's primary job is to manage his team, and Kelly can do that. He runs Oregon like an NFL team, a fact that has been praised by many.

Ideally for the Browns, Kelly's offense will work perfectly and the team will take the NFL by storm. If it doesn't, though, Kelly will adapt, and he'll still be the man in charge—a constant, respectable presence.

So while there is certainly concern about whether or not Kelly can translate to the NFL—and that concern is legitimate—there remains much optimism. 

One thing is certain, however. Expect Kelly to bring organizational credibility, innovation across the board and a winning attitude.

Above all, expect change.