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Is Chip Kelly the biggest bust in Philly sports history? Part 1

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Less than three years ago, I appeared on FOX 29 to discuss Philly2Philly’s new book, A Snowball’s Chance, as well as give my thoughts on the Eagles hiring of new coach Chip Kelly.

 

Less than three years later, the Eagles find themselves once again looking for a new head coach.

 

That’s right. Chip Kelly, the man who compiled a 46-7 record in four seasons with the Oregon Ducks, the man whom many believed would reinvent the way football is played in the NFL and bring a long-awaited Super Bowl trophy to the City of Brotherly Love, was “released” by the Eagles Tuesday.

 

“As I watched this season unfold, I determined that it was time to make a change,” said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie in a statement released shortly after 7pm Tuesday.Chip Kelly photo: (Kevin Jairaj-USATODAY Sports)

 

Kelly wasn’t the only one relieved of his duties. Ed Marynowitz, the team's VP of player personnel, also received his walking papers.

 

Yes. This is true. It really is happening. Chip Kelly is no longer head coach of the Eagles. He's done.

 

Kelly’s short but eventful tenure with the Birds is the latest example of how the landscape of Philadelphia sports can change in the blink of an eye (see: Terrell Owens), and usually not for the better. It's hard pressed to find a coach in the history of Philadelphia sports, whose hiring was so eagerly anticipated and fielded such promise, but instead yielded such underwhelming results, as Chip Kelly's.

 

Just last year, Kelly had coached the Eagles to a 9-3 record after beating the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. After finishing strong in Kelly's first season with the team in 2013, many believed the team was about to embark on a deep Super Bowl run.

 

Now, a little more than a year later, the Eagles are 6-9, they're going to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year, and just like that, "Big Balls Chip" is gone. The loud music, protein shakes and no-huddle offense will go with him, concluding perhaps arguably the most disappointing (but brief) chapter in the history of the team.

 

Sure, there’s been worse Eagles squads than the current 2015 edition, but the way things got out of control so quickly makes the series of events leading to Kelly’s dismissal so utterly disappointing.

 

It wasn’t too long ago that Kelly breathed new life into an Eagles franchise looking for a fresh start after 14 seasons with Andy Reid at the helm. Kelly inherited a 2012 team that finished 4-12 upon his arrival to Philadelphia. However, the Eagles, due in large part to Kelly’s unique practice methods and his conditioning techniques he suggested for the players, became the most talked about team in the NFL going into the 2013 preseason. Pretty impressive for a 4-12 team with the majority of the same players. Depending on who you asked (and who believed in Kelly) nobody knew what to expect from the Eagles. Some had them duplicating their 2012 record, some had the team at 7-9 if they were lucky, and some optimists had them reaching the .500 mark at 8-8.

 

After weathering several storms in training camp (including the infamous Riley Cooper incident) and a quarterback controversy, Kelly and the Eagles got off to a disappointing 3-5 start. There seemed to be some growing pains as he adapted from the college game to the pros. However, the offense (led by the emergence of quarterback Nick Foles) and defense started clicking, and the team racked off seven wins in their final eight games to win the NFC East and finish with a 10-6 record. And despite a disappointing home loss to the Saints in the NFC Wild Card game, most fans were just happy that the Eagles got as far as they did.

 

The overall consensus was that Kelly did a tremendous job turning around this team. He gave the city hope that things were only going to get better. When I interviewed Eagles’ linebacker DeMeco Ryans shortly after the season ended, he gave 100 percent credit to Kelly for turning the organization around. Yes, the future looked promising indeed.

 

Chip Kelly was on his way to changing the game, and the Eagles were going to be the beneficiary.


Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of the Chip Kelly era recap.

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

 

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Chip Kelly photo: (Kevin Jairaj-USATODAY Sports)