Skip to main content

Philadelphia Eagles' hire of Chip Kelly could be NFL's worst ever

Now that the Philadelphia Eagles have reeled in perhaps the biggest fish on the coaching market, I am going on the record calling Chip Kelly one of the worst hires in pro football history.

Yes, worse than Steve Spurrier, the old ball coach who is one of college football's top offensive minds ever but who failed miserably in the NFL, going 12-20 in two seasons with the Washington Redskins (2002-03). Kelly, too, is a dynamic college head coach, but what he's about to bring to the NFL simply won't work. Here are three reasons why:

1. No recruiting advantage

For the past four years, Kelly had the biggest recruiting advantage ever known to a college coach. His name is Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike and a major University of Oregon donor and school alumnus who pumps millions of dollars into the football program each year. Despite the enormous benefits of this relationship, Kelly never brought a BCS title to Eugene.

In four years with the Ducks, he had a 46-7 record but never finished higher than third in the polls, including 2010 when he lost to Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. In the NFL, you don't get 10 first-round picks, and in Philly, the league's best free agents aren't lining up to join the Eagles.

2. Out-coached by Stanford

Nearly two months ago, Stanford beat Oregon 17-14 to ruin the Ducks' hopes for a perfect season. Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason had 20 working hours that week (mandated by the NCAA, which includes practice, weightlifting, and meetings) to prepare for this so-called NFL-ready offense, and he held them to two touchdowns, 4-of-17 on third down, 0-for-2 on fourth down, and forced a turnover.

I love the discipline and structure that Jim Harbaugh installed at Stanford and that current head coach David Shaw and Mason have continued. And they've done it with much less athletic players than what Kelly had at Oregon. If Kelly's high-powered offense could only manage 14 points against Stanford, how will this offense work in the NFL, where all teams -- more or less -- are on equal footing?

3. QBs exposed to injuries

If we've learned one thing this season in the NFL, it's that you can't expose your franchise quarterback to vicious and violent hits. I'm sure the RG3 phenomenon is adding to the Chip Kelly hype but Robert Griffin III was knocked out of a game three times -- once by concussion, once from a brutal hit from Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata, and a final time in the playoffs that required surgery and puts his NFL future in jeopardy.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota carried the ball 106 times in 13 games for Kelly this season. Overall, Oregon quarterbacks have rushed the ball 464 times in Kelly's four seasons with the Ducks. I'm not sure he can maintain that in the NFL against much bigger, quicker and faster defensive players without losing a quarterback -- be it Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Geno Smith or anyone else -- to injury for a significant amount of time.

The game is constantly changing in small ways, but the basis of championship football will always be physical and mental toughness in the NFL, not gadget offensive schemes. When Kelly and his Oregon squads faced physically tough and defensively sound teams, they did not fare well.

Sure, Oregon kept it close against Auburn in the 2010 title game, and the Ducks didn't do so badly against LSU in 2011 either. But "keeping it close" and "not so bad" will only get you one thing in the NFL: fired.

Heath Evans is an analyst on NFL Network's "Total Access."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content