Chip Kelly has tough decisions to make with Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles finally found their man.

Following a 16-day head coach search, the Eagles hired Oregon’s Chip Kelly. The move came as a bit of a shock and certainly comes with a level of risk.

By most accounts, Kelly was the hottest candidate on the market.

He’s an offensive guru. He’s also seen wrinkles of his offense slowly implemented into NFL game plans across the league.

There’s only one problem: Kelly has never coached in the NFL at any level.

Kelly and the Eagles face several major issues heading to the 2013 season and beyond.

The first challenge facing Kelly is assembling an NFL coaching staff. This is an extremely important quality in head coaches. Without the right coaching staff, he’ll never be able to succeed.

Kelly has to be careful when choosing his defensive coaches.

The Eagles’ defense has been a complete disaster the past two seasons. To be honest, they’ve been a disaster since the death of the great Jim Johnson.

Kelly needs to find a top-notch guy to run his defense. This will be imperative in his overall success or failure as an NFL head coach.

So far, Kelly has done a good job in assembling his staff.

The Eagles retained the services of former player and running backs coach, Duce Staley. This is a good keep for the Eagles, as he is very respected by players on the roster.

Initial reports indicate that former Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur is joining Kelly’s staff as offensive coordinator.

From an x’s and o’s standpoint, this doesn’t make too much sense.

But after further examination, this is another strong hire for coach Kelly. Shurmur is a former NFL head coach with tons of experience. He’s a respected guy that he will be able to bounce ideas off of.

Obviously, Kelly will be the primary play-caller. Shurmur will have to adapt to his new role, but this is a solid addition to the Eagles’ coaching staff.

He has a proven track record of developing quarterbacks, which could bold well for Nick Foles or whoever is the quarterback in Philly next season.

The Eagles front office and coach Kelly also have an important decision to make at the quarterback position.

Michael Vick is owed $3 million if he’s on the Eagles roster on Feb. 6. He’s also owed $15.5 million for the 2013 season if he remains on the roster at all.

It doesn’t make much financial sense for the Eagles to pay a 32-year-old injury prone, turnover machine that kind of money.

The Eagles could decide to go with Foles, who played well as a rookie.

The problem with Foles is that he doesn’t exactly fit Kelly’s system.

Kelly generally likes to have an athletic quarterback that can run when called upon. Foles doesn’t exactly fit that mold, but by all accounts, Kelly is a brilliant football mind.

If he really loves Foles, then it should be expected that he can modify his scheme to fit Foles’s strengths.

The Eagles could also choose to go to a quarterback not currently on the roster.

Seattle’s Matt Flynn and San Francisco’s Alex Smith will likely be available in the trade market. I’m not sure either are are franchise quarterback worthy or if they even fit the system.

Joe Flacco is currently without a contract going into next season, but it’s extremely unlikely that the Ravens would allow him to walk away given his postseason success.

At the end of the day, anything is possible. The Eagles won’t be leaving any stones unturned.

Coach Kelly has a lot of evaluating to do on the current roster. After all, this was a team that finished 4-12.

They had no heart and proved to be quitters. He needs to identify the cancer on the roster and get rid of it.

After the way this team played last season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a massive roster turnover.

I don’t doubt that Chip Kelly is a great football coach.

The way he built the Oregon football program is incredibly impressive. He’s personally responsible for revolutionizing NFL offenses.

He will be given every opportunity to earn the respect of Eagles’ players and fans. Unfortunately, without a great defensive coordinator and the proper personnel, he’ll never be able to succeed in the NFL.

 

Reach the columnist at jbisacci@asu.edu