While at Oregon, Chip Kelly ran high-flying, high-octane and high-scoring offenses. Everything was high, except the draft stock of the quarterbacks who led those offenses.
Marcus Mariota, Darron Thomas and Jeremiah Masoli weren't exactly nationally touted superstars. The jury is still out on Mariota, but Thomas and Masoli never made the jump to the NFL.
But Kelly's offenses were immensely successful anyway, and he alluded to that fact on Wednesday while attempting to explain why his new NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, was in no urgent need of a franchise quarterback.
From PhillyMag.com's Tim McManus:
Kelly was asked if his system can de-emphasize the importance of a traditional, superstar, marquee quarterback.
"Yeah," he said, "because we didn't have traditional, superstar, marquee quarterbacks at Oregon."
The first problem with that is that—in the world of football—the NFL and NCAA are very different. There are more ways to survive at the college level. There isn't a defined, structured, classic formula to follow in the Pac-12, but there is in the pros and it's very hard, if not impossible, to deviate.
The reality is that nine of the last 10 Super Bowl champions have been led by future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and it could even be 10 if Joe Flacco picks up some steam in the years to come.
Can you win consistently in the NFL without a "franchise quarterback"?
I don't know if the word "elite" has any meaning left at this point, but an elite quarterback is a necessity if you're going to win at all in this league, let alone win with consistency. Since it's Super Bowl or bust in Philly in the years to come, Kelly must realize that finding a quarterback like that is his top priority.
It's possible he's just saying that now because he doesn't have that franchise quarterback on his current roster. With that in mind, we're beginning to believe that the Eagles have to strongly consider drafting a quarterback with that No. 4 overall pick on April 25.
They've shown interest in West Virginia's Geno Smith and Florida State's EJ Manuel, They have to decide which one they'd prefer and dive in. This team is talented enough that it won't likely have a top-five draft pick again in the next few years, and good quarterbacks are extremely difficult to find beyond the top of each year's draft.
I think Kelly knows that, at this level, you can get by with an ordinary quarterback, but you can't truly succeed on a consistent basis without a great one.
If he's just not ready to admit that, fine. Let's just hope he doesn't truly hold the stubborn belief that the NFL's version of Darron Thomas can help this team win championships.