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Fan-Demonium: What Does Kelly Want?

Posted Jan 29, 2013


The hot topic right now is the search for a defensive coordinator. We really don't know who Chip Kelly is going to hire to run his defense.  Guessing is fun, but waiting is frustrating.  Oh well, we'll find out the answer soon enough.  With the situation remaining open, you would think that Kelly is waiting until after the Super Bowl so he can hire someone who is working for one of the teams.  The big game is this Sunday so you would think we might hear more about interviews by next Tuesday. 

There isn't one coach that I'm enamored with.  There is a case to be made for each of the candidates. Jim Johnson turned out to be a great move back in 1999, but Johnson didn't have a perfect track record or any Super Bowl rings when he was hired.  Andy Reid had the foresight to know that Johnson could work in the right situation.  Kelly will hire someone with the same hope in mind.  You can't always find the perfect coach.  You need to find the right coach and put him in the right situation. 

One interesting side note is that if you believe the rumors, the Eagles are looking at linebackers coaches.  Eagles fans have been frustrated for years with the inconsistent linebacker play.  Maybe Kelly will be a coach that changes that by focusing on the linebackers.  Oregon had quite a few college stars recently at the linebacker position:  Dion Jordan, Michael Clay, Kiko Alonso, Josh Kaddu, Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger.  I know those aren't household names with NFL fans, but all were good college players.  Jordan has the potential to be a top 10 pick and NFL star. 

It sure sounds like the Eagles expect to be a 3-4 team in 2013 and moving forward.  I have mixed feelings on this.  I've been a 4-3 guy since I started watching football 35 years ago.  At the same time, Chip Kelly has my full trust right now.  If he wants to go 3-4, I'll buy in.  I'm just desperate to see the Eagles get back to playing good defense.  The Eagles have gone to the Super Bowl twice.  Both times the team ranked in the top 10 in both points and yards allowed.  No matter what Kelly does to the offense, the defense must play better. 

Regardless of scheme, it will be interesting to see what kind of players Kelly wants.  There was a report in the National Football Post over the weekend that Kelly might prefer players with "more length," especially in the front seven on defense.  This refers to a couple of different things.  Length can mean taller players.  It can also refer to arm length.  The taller a player, the harder it is to see over him or throw over him.  Arm length is important for batting passes.  It also is very helpful for linebackers and defensive linemen since they can keep blockers from getting into their body.

Some members of the current Eagles would be fine in this regard.  Fletcher Cox has a good frame and long arms.  Cedric Thornton is plenty big.  Vinny Curry is OK.  Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Graham do not fit the model, but both are good young players.  They aren't going anywhere.  We don't yet know if Kelly does prefer "longer" players.  This is just a report for now.  It is something to keep track of during the offseason. 


Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.

We have a lot to learn about Kelly and what he wants.  There is a perception that Kelly loves speedy receivers.  I'm not sure if this is true.  Jaison Williams was 6-5 and 242 pounds.  Jeffrey Maehl was 6-1 and 190.  Drew Davis was 6-1 and 205.  Lavasier Tuinei was 6-5 and 216 pounds.  These guys ran well, but had more size than speed.  Does Kelly really prefer speed or does he want size more than we know? 

The tricky part of this is trying to understand what Kelly wanted as opposed to what he had to work with at Oregon.  There is a misconception by some that Oregon had tons of elite football recruits.  That's not the case.  They got some star players, but also had to mix in some mid-level players.  Kelly showed the ability to bring these guys in and coach them up.  Now that he's in the NFL, Kelly can tell Howie Roseman the kind of players he wants.  Kelly can be specific with what he'd like.  That doesn't mean he'll always get what he wants, but more often than not he would get his desired type of players.  We'll need to see a full offseason before we can get a good feel for what kind of players Kelly really is looking for. 

One of the more underrated aspects of the coaching change is the need for Kelly, his coaching staff, Roseman and the scouting staff to all get on the same page and work well together.  The teams that have the most success are those that have excellent cohesion between the personnel department and the coaching staff.

In recent years, the Eagles have not done a good enough job of this.  Think about how much we don't know about players like Curtis Marsh, Casey Matthews, Riley Cooper, Dion Lewis, Phillip Hunt, Brandon Hughes and Vinny Curry.  The coaches were inconsistent with how they used those players.  I'm sure some of the situations would make complete sense if we knew all the facts, but some of those situations boil down to the coaches playing the players they want and ignoring others or not making ideal use of the roster due to questionable gameplans.  When you can get everyone on the same page and working together, the organization will be more successful. 

Dealing with a new coach is frustrating in the sense that there are now so many more unknowns than we're used to, but it is also exciting because we don't know what Kelly will do.  What schemes will he run?  How will the offense look?  What kind of players does he want?  The Eagles won't have the West Coast Offense for the first time since 1994.  It's possible the 4-3 will go away for the first time in more than 25 years. 

I don't know how things will work out with Kelly as the coach, but life won't be boring.  There will be lots of change.  When you're coming off a 4-12 season, that's not a bad thing.  Kelly is going to make some mistakes.  There will be some awkward moments.  That's all right.  Just remember that you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

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