Chip Kelly Can Save the Philadelphia Eagles

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 17, 2013

Courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer
Courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer

Everyone knows you can't win in this league without a good quarterback, right? That's been tattooed to our brains by every NFL analyst in the nation. And to a lesser extent, it's widely considered to be factual that you can't usually win without good pass rushers, either. 

But it's strange how rarely, in comparison, you hear about how valuable good coaching is. Outliers win Super Bowls without great quarterbacks or solid pass rushes (although never with neither), but nobody comes close to the Lombardi Trophy without top-of-the-line coaches. It is the trump card in this game. 

The Philadelphia Eagles have been an un-hot mess for 18 months. They need a superhero to get them back onto the perennial brink they resided on for over a decade under Andy Reid. And since you can't just pick a franchise-saving quarterback from a tree, the Eagles' best shot at a quick turnaround was to find a potential franchise-saving head coach. 

It's hard to imagine there were many/any better options for that than Chip Kelly, who this week became the 21st head coach in team history after playing hard to get for two and a half weeks. 

It's impossible to predict how this will end. Hell, it's impossible to predict how it'll start. But you get a gut feeling one way or another, and it's not as though I'd be significantly more confident with anyone else. 

There's a risk here. A risk that Kelly becomes another Steve Spurrier or another Nick Saban, or some sort of frightening blend of both. After all, he's a control freak with absolutely no experience coaching professional athletes. It's easier to be anal retentive and dictatorial with students than it is with grown men. 

Despite what we're hearing, I have my doubts that Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman can stay out of each other's way. I don't know that Kelly can let Roseman call the shots in the draft and during free agency year after year without losing patience. I can see and feel the blowup already. I can already hear the outrage on 94 WIP and 97.5 The Fanatic. 

But while that risk remains present, the potential reward is larger than it would be with any other candidate, up to and including Jon Gruden. And even if Kelly does eventually make a power play, it might not be a bad thing. OCD coaches like Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin have proven that.

That has to have its limits in this case, because Kelly has to know that only parts of his Oregon offense can make the commute from Eugene to Philly. Elements can and will work, but the system as a whole wasn't made for this league. The rosters are too shallow, the offensive players too slow and the defensive players too fast and sophisticated. 

I believe Kelly knows that, and if that is indeed that case, he might truly possess everything you need to lead the resurrection of this franchise.

He can't do so single-handedly, but he at least has that utterly-important pass rush in place. He risks screwing it up by fixing what ain't broke and requiring a 4-3-oriented defense to switch to the 3-4, though, and it's imperative that he finds the right defensive coordinator for a unit that hasn't been led properly since the Jim Johnson days. 

And of course he needs that quarterback, whoever it may be. This franchise can't completely be saved without the right piece in place under center, whether that's Michael Vick or Nick Foles or Alex Smith or Geno Smith or Matt Flynn or John Doe. 

I don't have the answer there, but I'm optimistically going to believe that Kelly's enough of an offensive genius to make the right decision in that regard and then create the system that pivot requires.

It won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight or even in one spring, but the Eagles can be saved and Chip Kelly can be that savior.