Though it's hard to imagine now, former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson was once thought of as Chip Kelly. He, too, was the plucky college upstart who was making big moves and doing things his own way.
And recently, Johnson and Kelly talked about the pressures of running the whole ship, from personnel down to play calling. Though Johnson wouldn't share the depth of their conversation, he did relay one piece of advice he gave to Kelly, via Sports Illustrated:
"The job is overwhelming to do it 12 months of the year all by yourself. I found that out. My advice would be to have somebody -- and not a group of people, just one person that you trust, that you like, that's loyal, that's like-minded -- do those type of things. That will help, because during the season itself the job can be a little overwhelming. But in the offseason? The draft and free agency? Take advantage of your talents. You're good at evaluating players because you did it in college just like I did in college, so that's where you can shine. But during the season is when you're going to need a little bit of help.
"Here's the big question: Do you want to play it safe and be good, or do you want to take a chance and be great? If you're not afraid to fail, you can do some great things in this league. But most people are afraid to fail, so they play it safe. I always liked to take risks because I was always confident in my abilities. I think -- no, I know -- Chip is confident in his abilities, too."
Johnson's advice is solid and, presumably, Kelly has found that person in Ed Marynowitz, who was recently named the team's vice president of player personnel. If not, we're guessing Kelly has the autonomy to go out and find that person given the trust that owner Jeffrey Lurie placed in him.
Over time, though, we've seen the way a coach can waver as talent filters in and out of the front office. Most notably, Bill Belichick had to sustain several massive departures before finding the right people to lean on again.