Chip Kelly's NFL Experiment Is Failing, and He's Shown No Willingness to Change

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterOctober 4, 2015

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 04:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on during the second half of the Eagles 23-20 loss to the Washington Redskins at FedExField on October 4, 2015 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

There's truly no other way to say it. What Chip Kelly is doing isn't working. The experiment is failing.

It hasn't failed. Not saying that. A coach who starts his career winning 10 games in each of his first two seasons isn't a terrible coach, obviously. Kelly has had his moments, but what we are seeing, mostly, is a decent NFL coach who was given genius status far too prematurely.

The Eagles on Sunday lost, 23-20, to Washington. To Washington. A dreadful, lost, rudderless team. Kelly lost to Kirk Cousins, who was once benched for Colt McCoy. He was outcoached by Jay Gruden, who has coached the Nashville Kats, the Orlando Predators, the Florida Tuskers, and before this week had a career NFL head coaching record of 5-14.

Oct 4, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs with the ball as Philadelphia Eagles strong safety Walter Thurmond (26) chases in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burk
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I know, I know. You're not supposed to say anything negative about Kelly. You're supposed to say he's great. No one better. My Twitter timeline on Sunday was filled with ugliness when I tweeted "the NFL is hard, Chip."

I tweeted that because it is, and I see it getting harder for Kelly, every quarter, every half and every game. This season, Kelly has had to fight for every inch of yardage and advancement, and if you're honest, the Eagles are moving backward.

This is the problem with Kelly. It's the big problem. It's the only problem: Initially, his smarts and system outclassed the NFL. But recently, the NFL adapted, and Kelly hasn't.

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It's fair to take a hard look at where Kelly's Eagles are headed after a 1-3 start. This isn't a hot take. This isn't about anti-college coaches. This is evaluating the man who took total control of the Eagles and, after doing so, will now have a hard time making the playoffs.

Remember what Kelly has done. He transformed the organization into his image. He won a power struggle over former general manager Howie Roseman. He dumped Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. Is Bradford better? He is, but Bradford is getting physically pounded. Him lasting the season would be a miracle.

DeSean Jackson...gone. Evan Mathis...buh-bye. It's true the players Kelly let go aren't tearing up the sport. LeSean McCoy's hamstring has been as thin-skinned as Kelly's supporters. Yet Kelly made those decisions, and now critics have a right to wonder if Kelly will ever turn it around.

There was also Kelly signing DeMarco MurrayLast year after four games, Murray had 534 yards on 99 carries.

This year, Murray has 47 yards on 29 carries. Let me repeat that: Forty-seven yards on 29 carries. Last season, ESPN Stats & Info says, Murray had 28 touches a game. This year, he has 40 total in three games. He looks like a different back.

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 04: DeMarco Murray #29 of the Philadelphia Eagles breaks the tackle of Kyshoen Jarrett #30 of the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedExField on October 4, 2015 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)
Evan Habeeb/Getty Images

After the game, Murray told reporters that he isn't getting enough touches. He is right to be mystified by what Kelly is doing. Why bring Murray to Philadelphia and then not use him? It makes no sense.

"Do I think I'm touching the ball? Umm...No, I'm not," Murray said, when asked if he's getting enough touches. "I don't think I am."

"I knew I was going to be the guy," Murray said. "I knew (Darren) Sproles and (Ryan) Mathews, two great guys. I knew this offense, a lot of guys touch the ball."

The conundrum with Murray is all about Kelly's belief in his system. Kelly thinks: I don't need Murray to touch the ball. I'll win it somewhere else. My system will win it. Not the players.

This is the problem, again, with Kelly. I don't see adaptation or innovation. I just see stubbornness. There's no other way to name what he's doing with Murray. Giving him just 40 touches in three games is about refusing to change.

Kelly can win in this league. He's done it already. He hasn't won in the postseason, but neither did Bill Belichick in Cleveland. Things can change.

What made Belichick great was that he adapted and molded his system to fit the talent around him. He lucked into Tom Brady, but once he did, a brilliant defensive mind morphed into someone who studied the game and became an offensive innovator.

I'm not sure Kelly will ever do that. I think he is going to stick to his philosophy, even as the NFL has adapted to it. 

The Eagles allowed Cousins, in the waning minutes of the game, to go 90 yards in 15 plays. Imagine if Kelly had used Murray more. They could have controlled the clock and left less time for Washington. 

No, Kelly won't be going back to coach in college anytime soon. It is also true that what he is doing has stopped working. The Kelly NFL experiment is failing.

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. 

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