You may recall that Chip Kelly, the second best former PAC-12 coach currently employed as a head coach in the NFL and with two reasonably successful seasons as a head coach under his belt, was given complete control of team personnel this offseason. He HACKED the NFL with the innovative strategy of throwing money at name running backs and a famous but not very good and injury-prone QB. In even better news, in week 2 he faced a Dallas defense that is injury-riddled and not terribly good to begin with and a Dallas offense missing one of the best receivers in the league. And as a bonus, Dallas also lost their very fine QB in the third quarter, leaving the team with the quarterback-like stylings of Mr. Brandon Weeden. So that must have worked out well, right?
Well, expensive QB Sam Bradford was hideous, posting 6.1 yards/A and 2 picks, and with the former padded with garbage time yards. (His QBR was 5.6. To put this in context, Geno Smith has a QBR of 44.3 last year.) The first very expensive RB, DeMarco Murray, parlayed 13 carries into 2 yards. His second, some less expensive RB got 1 carry for zero yards. The decentish #2 CB Kelly paid like an elite #1 did force a fumble, but was also torched on a decisive 42-yard touchdown by the Canton-bound duo of Weeden and Terrance Williams.
None of these players are this bad. But it’s pretty clear that Kelly didn’t have some kind of mystical insight that would make moves that looked ghastly on paper good. And while the Eagles were over a barrel, giving Kelly complete control of personnel never made any sense. In the contemporary NFL, it’s enormously difficult to do both jobs well. Sure, Belichick more or less does it, but 1)do not try what works for one of the very greatest coaches in the history of North American professional sports at home, and 2)Belichick has been around the NFL since the Ford administration. Even if Kelly eventually could have been a good personnel guy, the chances that this would work out after two years of seasoning were remote. He really should have known this.
And, worse for Eagles fans, they’ve underachieved enough to make you wonder about Kelly’s coaching, which looked solid. Bradford has been a below-average QB by any metric and it is was foolish to trade a draft pick to drive massive dumptrucks of money up to his house, but Kelly had previously gotten adequate performance from QBs with even worse track records. Giving big money to running backs who have been worked hard has a horrible track record, but this doesn’t explain why Murray has made Trent Richardson look like Jim Brown. In fairness to these gentlemen, the abysmal Eagles offensive line and the sketchy wideouts don’t help matters, but while that mitigates the performance of Bradford and Murray to some degree it’s not a mitigating factor for Kelly: he chose to allocate his resources this way.
And yet, for all this, the team it still not out of it. While Kelly is in a class with Josh McDaniels as a personnel director I don’t think he’s suddenly lost it as a coach. And with Romo and Bryant out the division currently has nothing remotely resembling a good team. (The Giants have to be kicking themselves for blowing two 4th quarter leads, the first one with incomprehensibly bad game management.) If Kelly’s offseason moves allow Daniel Snyder to get into the playoffs, though…