Head coach Chip Kelly came to the Eagles from Oregon with a bold vision and a brilliant football mind. However, he also came without NFL experience. So when it came time to hire coordinators, Kelly made sure he brought in coaches who had a track record of excellence in the pros.
But what about Kelly’s innovative, forward-thinking coaching style? How will the new coaching staff get on the same page with his approach?
Enter the assistants - defensive line/assistant head coach Jerry Azzinaro, assistant offensive line coach Greg Austin, assistant defensive line coach Erik Chinander, assistant defensive backs coach Todd Lyght and assistant special teams coach Matt Harper.
Kelly brought these five coaches with him from Eugene, Ore. and in the beginning they’ll be doing more than studying tape. They’ll be helping coaches who have never worked with Kelly get used to his way of building a program.
“That was really important to me to get a bunch of guys in here that understood me and really kind of built it from the bottom up,” Kelly said. “And Eric and Todd, Matt Harper and Greg Austin are guys who are young coaches at Oregon that have been with me a couple of years and understood how I wanted things done and what my vision was.
“I have a meeting and have a tendency to talk really fast and I want things to be efficient. But I also know that I may forget to say something, and Pat Shurmur can go to Greg Austin and say, 'What did he mean by that?' Or the same thing with Dave Fipp and Matt Harper for those young guys. Now I can put together guys with NFL experience coming here, and (the former Oregon assistants) can say, ‘This is what Coach means, this is how we operate.’ Kind of get in that fit that I talked about again. But it was integral.”
Many of the Eagles’ new coaches have ties to Kelly, though not all of them had worked with their new boss before now. And as many fans have already noticed, Kelly’s way of doing things is rarely defined as "traditional." He’s always looking for new ways of thinking and improving the team and wants his coaches to be on the same wavelength. As someone who’s been a part of that process, Chinander believes this will be a real positive for the entire organization.
“I think (Kelly) wants people who believe what we believe, and that’s why he brought this whole group together,” Chinander said. “It’s our job to kind of bridge the gap between him and the new guys and just help everybody get acclimated to the new system, but it’s going to be a great thing.”
Kelly’s staff hires are reflective of his philosophy. They are bold, but they are planned carefully and built with a concrete goal in mind. And as much as the eyes of Eagles fans are on Kelly this season, it will be up to the coaching staff as a whole to get its players ready and move the team in the right direction.
“You evaluate an organization and you evaluate a leader symmetrically,” Azzinaro said. “To say Chip Kelly had a lot of success means Oregon had a lot of success. That’s all we were ever about at Oregon. It was never about us. It was about 'we.' That was something our young guys brought out. It’s about 'we.' That’s what Chip’s about; I think that’s what this organization is about. I think that’s what all successful organizations are about.”
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