Former San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has been one of the most polarizing figures since coming to the National Football League after his great success at the University of Oregon.
Initially, he was mocked that his offensive style wouldn’t work.
Then he was praised when his Eagles went from last place to NFC East champs in his first season.
Then he was once again mocked after his personnel moves backfired and the Eagles bottomed out.
Last season in San Francisco, Kelly had a bare cupboard to work with, and he and general manager Trent Baalke were let go following a 3-13 campaign.
Kelly has learned that the NFL truly stands for “Not For Long” and you can go from being the windshield to the bug in not only one offseason but in one-half of one game.
The former offensive guru is at a crossroads in his professional career. He can opt to sit out this year or do some television and collect his two paychecks from Jeffrie Lurie and Jed York. Then he can likely hand-pick the best collegiate job available and “return to the minors” with a major paycheck.
There’s nothing wrong with that, it worked for Nick Saban and countless others. Sure, you’ll never be considered among the “best of the best,” but you’ll make a great living and put together winning seasons year in and year out.
Kelly doesn’t seem like that type of guy, and the fact that he interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars open offensive coordinator position says plenty. It says that he believes that he’s a professional head coach and is looking for a challenge.
At this point, Kelly hasn’t been hired for the position but our sources tell us that he’s the leader in the clubhouse.
Make no mistake, this is a job with a lot of upside for Kelly….
But what about the downside?
What is the worst thing that can happen for him? He gets fired after one season taking over an offense that was ranked 23rd overall and 25th in the league in scoring? If Kelly fails, it’s hardly his fault. He’s already the butt of many jokes and people don’t believe much in his talents. If he returns to college, it’s more than likely that he’ll never sniff another NFL job, even as a coordinator.
The Jaguars are trying to reinvent themselves…again, and so is Kelly. The team has gone back to their roots with hiring Tom Coughlin as the VP of Football Operations. Perhaps Kelly can get back to his roots with having a dominant ground game to take pressure off the quarterback?
How good of a job is this one for Kelly? Many believe it’s good, including Coughlin who was asked about if it’s a not good, but great opportunity.
“Without a doubt,” the two-time Super Bowl winning head coach said. “I just walked out into the stadium and was reminded of how beautiful the stadium is and how fast a track we’re blessed with here. To be able to take advantage of that team speed and also our weather and all of those kinds of things, it puts me back in that mode of thinking when we first came here. It’s all very positive.”
Beggars can’t be choosers for Kelly. This is likely his last NFL opportunity and he gets to take over a team with a fan base that has low expectations (regardless of what’s said in press conferences), and he has some talent at his disposal to do so. Jacksonville had a Top 10 passing attack in 2015 and they were in the top half of the league in scoring. There is certainly a great amount of raw talent on the roster on both sides of the football and if Kelly can “fix” quarterback Blake Bortles, who has a solid work ethic and currently the most motivation of his life, he can immediately rehabilitate his image.
There is a certain amount of buzz– mostly negative — regarding the potential hiring of Kelly. It’s difficult to determine if Kelly is a bad NFL coach because it’s been proven that he is a poor NFL personnel guy and that ultimately sunk the Eagles organization with him at the helm. You can pretty much throw out the 2016 season in San Francisco, as he had virtually no talent to work with and wasn’t allowed to play his best quarterback until a contract renegotiation.
At this point, Kelly probably needs the Jaguars more than they need him. This could be a great opportunity to learn from some great football minds and prove that he can not only succeed, but mute his perceived ego.
When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose, right?