Why Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles Deserve a Long Leash This Season

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Why Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles Deserve a Long Leash This Season
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
A smiling Chip Kelly—perhaps because he knows his job is safe beyond this year.

Well, Philly fans, the “be careful what you wish for” moment has finally arrived—14 years in the making.

After nearly a decade-and-a-half of insanity (because repeatedly doing the same things and expecting a different result is just that, I’ve been told), the Philadelphia Eagles will test the waters of a new era, one without a stocky redhead roaming the sideli—well, actually, that part remains.

But otherwise, expect to see offensive plays called at a dizzying speed as opposed to timeouts called to avoid a delay of game.

Expect an emphasis on the run as opposed to a reliance on the pass that made even the most devout Madden player blush.

Expect a refreshing level of candidness during postgame conferences, as opposed to the same stale and snarky lines that made some wonder if the former head coach ran on batteries.

However, what you shouldn’t expect is a 53-year (and counting) NFL championship drought to end anytime soon.

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And, as much as football is embraced in this city, and as much as the fans bleed green around here, they will tell you that’s okay. At least for now.

Chip Kelly finds himself in a very similar and envious position as his predecessor Andy Reid did more than a decade ago: inheriting a train wreck and having the gift of time to rebuild it.

Reid took over for a squad that tuned out previous head coach Ray Rhodes to the tune of a franchise-worst 13-loss campaign, and improved it by two games in his initial go-round.

Two seasons later, he took them to the first of five winnable conference championship games and the beginning of the most sustained period of success in team history.

Kelly assumes a team fresh off a 12-loss season and, if the parallel between his and Reid’s tenures continue from there, he won’t have to go house hunting anytime soon.

This year, simply enough, is a mulligan. The defense returns no more than five starters (a good thing, mind you). Three players who could have made a significant impact are already lost for the season.

Another one showed us that alcohol, a racist remark and cell phone videos are typically a recipe for disaster. And it’s very likely that the starting quarterback of the future may not take the field this year—and may not even be on the roster yet.

But similar to the current fate of the city’s basketball team across the parking lot, fans are willing to extend the length of a journey to reach a desired destination. We’re willing to see if something different can work—even if it prolongs a decades-long detour—if only because we grew tired of realizing that the status quo no longer did.

Therefore, it’s very likely that the Eagles could go 2-14 in 2013 (preferably with those two wins coming against the Dallas Cowboys) and most fans won’t bat an eye.

As long as it’s done with a running back who gets at least 20 carries per contest, a 3-4 defensive scheme full of players not allergic to tackling and a clear and non-condescending postgame explanation that goes beyond simply having to “do a better job,” Kelly will be safe.

At least until next year, that is.

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