(SportsNetwork.com) – Chip Kelly is a New Hampshire native and his football philosophy is a lot like the weather where he grew up. If you don’t like it, wait five minutes.
The Philadelphia Eagles head coach and now de facto general manager is playing fantasy football for real these days turning his team inside out with a series of roster moves that are about as predictable as Rob Ford on his favorite hallucinogen.
The confusion surrounding Kelly’s machinations is well-founded because it’s now clear he has no real plan despite the narrative you’re being sold from his acolytes who label him with terms like innovator or genius.
So far Kelly has traded Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy and starting quarterback Nick Foles, released offensive guard Todd Herremans, corner Cary Williams and edge rusher Trent Cole, and let 1,300-yard receiver Jeremy Maclin walk in free agency.
In turn he’s brought back new leaders for his offense and defense, quarterback Sam Bradford and inside linebacker Kiko Alonso, signed a better running back than McCoy in DeMarco Murray, got Murray a really good caddy in Ryan Mathews, and upgraded the cornerback position with two junior members of the Seahawks “Legion of Boom,” Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond.
On one day Kelly devastated the entire city of Philadelphia by proving his own sanity and finally admitting to the world he would not mortgage the future of the Eagles for the supposed apple of his eye, Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.
And 24 hours later he saved scores from jumping off the spans of the Walt Whitman, Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross bridges by stealing Murray from the division-rival Cowboys, an out-of-left-field move that only came to fruition once Kelly gambled on the oft-injured Bradford, Murray’s roommate and good friend in college at the University of Oklahoma.
In a football sense Kelly seems schizophrenic save for a slavish devotion to the system — his system, a muddled coagulation of offensive tempo, coupled with an overhyped “sports science” approach off the field based on common sense practices like eating well and getting plenty of sleep.
“I think he values the quarterback position in his offense the most,” . Herremans told a Philadelphia-area radio station after being jettisoned. “I think other than that, I think that he feels like he can kind of, you know, the system will take care of it.”
That kind of sentiment was beginning to take hold before Thursday’s moves to bring in Mathews and Murray, two upper-echelon backs. After all, Kelly let the immensely talented but enigmatic DeSean Jackson walk in 2014 while getting nothing in return and compounded that by shipping the high-priced McCoy, the franchise’s all-time rushing leader, to Western New York, and allowing Maclin, a class act, return to Missouri with the Chiefs.
Kelly, though, is often a walking-talking contradiction, almost a living, breathing mood ring. Yeah, he walked away from Pro bowl-level talent with nary a hiccup but he also brought in guys with Affirmed-level pedigrees like Murray, the 2014 NFL rushing king, Bradford, a former No. 1 overall pick, and Mathews, who was the No. 12 overall in 2010.
Today, one of his quips might be “the best ability is availability” and tomorrow he’ll say Bradford’s consecutive season-ending ACL tears are no big deal, and Mathews encyclopedic history of maladies are nothing to fret about.
Next week he may break out “big guys beat up little guys” to explain his disdain of a Jackson or even a Maclin, all the while praising the vaunted playmaking skills of the 5-foot-6 Darren Sproles.
He’ll gush about Mariota for months like a teenage girl with a crush even though his entire offensive system is supposedly “quarterback proof,” a philosophy completely reliant on spacing, tempo and keeping the defense from substituting so you can spread the field to run the football.
But, none of that means Kelly is deranged or irrational, he’s just restless. He’s a guy who will fall in love with a player on Monday and want to show that same talent the back door by Friday.
Kelly is no prodigy. He’s not playing chess while all the other NFL GMs break out the checker board. He’s not maximizing cap space or acquiring assets to build for the future, he’s waking up every morning, checking his messages and trying to get better on that particular day.
Think about it, Kelly thrived in a college environment and he has now brought that mindset to the NFL. If you snare a three-star recruit (say Mathews) and a four-star player comes knocking on the door (Murray), you burn the bridge and take the better player.
That’s Chip Kelly — nothing more and nothing less.