What Does Chip Kelly's Hiring Mean for the Philadelphia Eagles?

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 16, 2013

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 10:  Head Coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Duck looks on during pre-game warm ups before their NCAA College football game against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles have finally found a head coach. And it's not Gus Bradley, Jay Gruden, Ken Whisenhunt or even Lovie Smith.

Instead, in a shocking development, the team's first head-coaching hire this century is Chip Kelly, who turned the Eagles and others down earlier this month. 

Kelly has won 46 games and three conference championships in the last four years at Oregon, which is where he was supposed to be again in 2013 after deciding to stay in the college ranks despite flirting with the NFL for the second straight offseason.

Obviously, something changed. Here's what that could mean for the Eagles.


They'll likely run one of the NFL's most unique offenses

Kelly's high-tempo approach and fast-paced schemes would have been laughed at by NFL minds only a few years ago, but what's happening right now in NFL cities like San Francisco, Washington and Seattle indicates that the zone-read option Kelly used so heavily with the Ducks could succeed at the professional level.

Expect Kelly to run a lot of no-huddle stuff, and he could even try to incorporate some spread looks. The question is, does he have the right quarterbacks to execute that offense against NFL defenses? Beyond that, do the Eagles have the speed to succeed in Kelly's system? 


Nick Foles could be in trouble, and Michael Vick could have a shot

I still doubt the Eagles pay Vick anywhere near $16 million to start for them as a 33-year-old in 2013, but Vick suits Kelly's offense, while Foles isn't as good a fit. If the team and Vick can come to a compromise on a restructured contract before he's due to get a non-guaranteed bonus in early February, look for the Eagles to consider keeping No. 7 on the roster to appease Kelly.

Of course, depending on how much control the Eagles front office is ceding to Kelly, there's a chance he'll have a major say in that decision. 

Foles was expected by many to enter the offseason as the presumed starter after arguably outplaying Vick in several late-season spot starts, but there's a chance he could struggle attempting to run a Kelly-style attack, and it's even less likely Kelly would change his philosophy to cater to Foles. 

So there's a chance the Eagles now become handcuffed to Vick. There isn't a quarterback in this draft class who can play a Russell Wilson/Colin Kaepernick/Robert Griffin III role, and free agency won't give Kelly and the Eagles any better options. 

Further complicating things is the fact that Kelly seems to like Foles a fair bit.

"I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes," Kelly said of Foles in 2011. "Nick is a hell of a football player. That kid's a warrior. He's as good as anyone in the country."

I'd prefer to see Kelly adapt slightly to Foles than try to force things with the mistake- and injury-prone Vick, but there's probably a decent chance Philly now finds a way to keep both Foles and Vick on the roster. 

If that's the case, the key might be for the Eagles to implement several different styles at once. 


Big things to come for LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson

McCoy is considered a perfect fit for an offense like this, and his usage could increase as Kelly gives him some unique opportunities to contribute out of the backfield. 

I've heard from quite a few Eagles fans who think the team should look to trade Jackson this offseason, but he's one of the few track stars the Eagles have. Kelly will likely insist on Jackson sticking around, and he could be in for a huge 2013 season.


Fear of the unknown exists

Again, Kelly has never coached at this level. His philosophy alone suggests he could easily become another Steve Spurrier, but what about his coaching skills in general? When you hire a coach like this, there's always a chance he'll become another Nick Saban. No longer dealing with kids at the college level, Saban seemed to rub a lot of his NFL players the wrong way.

For this to work, Kelly will have to make some concessions, schematically and otherwise. And there's absolutely no guarantee that this will happen. 


Face has been saved

From a PR standpoint, this was a big win for the Eagles. Earlier Wednesday, I wrote that they were embarrassing themselves with a scattered and seemingly disorganized head-coaching search, but now they've landed the man who was considered to be at the top of their list from the get-go. 

So for the short term, this is a big win for Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie. The concern is in regard to what they gave up to land Kelly after he'd decided to return to Oregon. Will those concessions cost this team long-term? 

There's a chance they just offered him more money than before, and it's even possible that a development regarding potential sanctions at Oregon caused Kelly to change his mind. If either of those scenarios took place, the Eagles are big short-term winners because they haven't sold their souls out of desperation. 

On the other hand, if Kelly now has the type of contract that makes him tough to fire and/or grants him the degree of power to damage this franchise for the long term, the Eagles might have just dug a grave for themselves. 

We won't have a full grip on all of this for quite some time. At the very least, it's a much-needed shot in the arm.