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Chip Kelly gets fired. Now what?

4944334987_f623e4456dThe news that the Philadelphia Eagles had fired Chip Kelly on Tuesday surprised a lot of people. I was caught off guard by it. I was sure that the Eagles would stand by an egotistical head coach who took a team from 10-6 to 6-9 less than a year after seizing control of all player personnel decisions in which he showcased his hubris, spearheaded a bunch of roster moves that backfired, might have been drowned out by his team in the process and had definitely lost the faith of his high-priced running back.

Oh. The firing was actually justified, not a shock at all. The only surprising aspects of it were the timing and the lack of a warning. Sports news rarely just happens these days. With so many beat reporters and insiders, there’s always a signal for whenever something big is coming down the pipeline. An anonymous source. An exclusive report. Something that braces us for when the shit gets real. 

This firing just happened. There had been talk that Kelly had lost his locker room, but an outright dismissal during the season wasn’t seen as a possibility. Yet, the sword of Damocles fell on the high-profile head coach of a buzzworthy team in the nation’s most popular sport. And we were aware to only its aftermath. In today’s era of media, that is a surprise.

 What’s next for Chip? Another shot in the NFL, he hopes. He told FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer that he wants to stay in the pros, not go back to college and “insists” that he no longer wants to be his own general manager. 

I would like to see Kelly return to the college game, a place where he can fully control the situation and where the 18-to-20-year-olds will accept or put up with his arrogance more readily than men in their 30s. There are only two FBS college head coaching jobs open at the moment. but you know that 10-15 other programs would find some way to oust their current coach if Kelly ever made his services available.

But, OK, let’s keep Kelly in the NFL. There are already teams that would reportedly be interested in him as its head coach, the Tennessee Titans — with former Kelly recruit Marcus Mariota — chief among them. It’s not like Kelly doesn’t deserve another shot. To say his time in the NFL has been a failure would be failure on your part to observe history. The Eagles went 4-12 in 2012. Then Kelly flew in from Oregon and immediately spun the Eagles from 29th to fourth in scoring offense. His offenses ranked among the league’s top five in points and yards in his first two seasons. The Eagles’ defenses were pretty pliable in part because it spent so much time on the field thanks to the ultra-quick possessions on offense, but 2013 and 2014 saw Philadelphia finish at 10-6. Similar success this year would have given the Eagles a division title weeks ago. 

But 2015 held a different outcome largely because Kelly held another task. On Jan. 2, he was basically given carte blanche as the new head of football operations. How’d that go?

Kelly traded LeSean McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso, who was coming off of ACL reconstruction and is currently ranked as the sixth-worst qualifying LB by Pro Football Focus.

Kelly didn’t re-sign Jeremy Maclin and then tried to fill that void with the likes of Nelson Agholor, who had a very disappointing rookie season, and Josh Huff, who looks like nothing more than a special teams/gadget player. 

Kelly dealt Nick Foles away for Sam Bradford. Foles is absolutely dreadful, but Bradford wasn’t a whole lot better in his free agent year, and Kelly also decided to give the Rams two draft picks in that trade: a fourth-rounder in 2015 and a second-rounder in 2016. Philadelphia received a 2015 fifth-rounder in return.

Kelly gave $21 million guaranteed to DeMarco Murray, who ran for fewer yards on more carries this season than LeGarette Blount.

Kelly gave $25 million guaranteed to cornerback Byron Maxwell, who got picked on relentless by opposing quarterbacks early in the year. Injuries along with consistently poor play ruined his season.

Kelly let go of guard Evan Mathis, a former All-Pro who has graded out inside the top 15 at his position.

All in the span of less than a calendar year. Simply, Chip Kelly destroyed Chip Kelly’s team.

Gleaning from what he told Glazer, it’s nice that Kelly is apparently willing now to relinquish player personnel control to other people who actually know what they are doing. But do you really believe him? It was his refusal to delegate such duties that reportedly got him thrown out on to Broad Street in the flash on Tuesday.

Chip Kelly is a good football coach. He’s not a “mad genius”; he has shown himself to be a serviceable head man in the NFL who can get positive results. He can certainly dial up a dangerous offense.

He has also shown himself to be a horrendous GM. To steal a couple of lines from Bill Parcells, Chip Kelly can cook a tasty dinner. But he needs to let someone else shop for the groceries.

Regardless of how desperate some moribund franchise is for a head coach — one who would undoubtedly excite the fan base and drive up ticket sales — any owner would be a total fool to give Kelly full control over the on-field product if he really wants it again. No one man should have all that power. Not in the National Football League. With said power and his desire to maintain it, Kelly guaranteed his sudden exit out of the Eagles’ nest.

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