Chip Kelly stands alone. He's the best head coach I've ever seen with the Eagles handle the media, explain his thoughts and inspire confidence with his thoughtful and decisive answers.
Sometimes, the media needs to know the reasons why moves are made. Sometimes, the fans need to gain some clarity on decisions. In an action-filled two months and change since the 2014 season ended, it was time on Wednesday for Kelly to speak.
And he did. And he was brilliant as he is when he talks the game of football that he knows so well.
Buddy Ryan had a few funny lines. Rich Kotite, nothing. Ray Rhodes could snort and snuff and curse his way and his had his moments about "getting it done," but he wasn't in Kelly's class. Andy Reid? Nuts and bolts, facts and figures, but not a whole lot more. Reid's genius was what he did behind the scenes.
Kelly is a totally different case. He is engaging and eloquent and beyond entertaining when he stands in front of a crowd of reporters and answers questions. He takes every question literally and he provides fact-supported sound bites backed by a photographic memory that enables him to whip through statistics and scenarios as if he had just written them down.
I love the guy. I trust the guy. In Chip I Trust.
Kelly met the media on Wednesday afternoon and laid it all out -- the organization shakeup that followed the 2014 season that saw vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble and the Eagles part ways, that re-assigned Howie Roseman, that gave Kelly "final say" over personnel and that, ultimately, enabled Ed Marynowitz to gain a promotion to that VP of player personnel position and then, of course, the actions the Eagles have taken on the personnel side that have included the release or trade of five veteran players and, finally, the slam-bang moves in the first 20 1/2 hours of free agency.
The start of free agency is well underway. Here's a look at the behind the scenes happenings inside the NovaCare Complex ...
The general gist is this: When Kelly met with Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie following the 2014 season and the two talked about the vision for the organization, Lurie made the decision to restructure the front office and give Kelly the final say over personnel. Since then, Lurie and Marynowitz and Roseman have worked since then within the new arrangement and have worked well, Kelly said, leading into what the Eagles have done to date in free agency.
Kelly provided information for the media and the fan base, all of it very much needed as the Eagles have so abruptly turned their roster over, said goodbye to some familiar faces and productive players and welcomed in a handful of players who must fit into the culture of the locker room and the city.
The biggest story, of course, was the trade that sent Nick Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford, a rare quarterback-for-quarterback exchange that changes the face of the Eagles' offense. Kelly said that, in the aftermath of the trade, another NFL team called him and offered a first-round pick for Bradford, and as the reporters quickly raced through the vision in their minds of a possible Eagles' trade up in the draft to acquire Oregon's Marcus Mariota, they were reminded of what Kelly said minutes earlier.
"Let's dispel that right now. I think that stuff's crazy. You guys have been going with that stuff all along. I think Marcus is the best quarterback in the draft," Kelly said. "We will never mortgage our future to move all the way up to get somebody like that because we have too many other holes we're going to take care of."
No trade up. Bradford and re-signed Mark Sanchez are 1-2 at quarterback. The Eagles think Bradford has the ability to thrive in this offense.
"He's a big, strong, physical quarterback. He's over 6-4, he's 240 pounds, he's smart, he's intelligent, he's one of the most accurate throwers when you see him throw the football. I think he's smart, I think he's wired right. We had some inside information because (offensive coordinator) Pat Shurmur had the opportunity to coach the kid for a year (as offensive coordinator with the Rams in 2010) so he knows what he's like in the meeting room, he knows what he's like on a daily basis, he knows the consistency that comes with him, he knows his work ethic."
I thought he did well. Still don't love the Foles trade but... I needed to hear what he was thinking. Will give him benefit now. -- @EriCec73
The Eagles had to give up something to get something, so to acquire linebacker Kiko Alonso ("He's tall, he's long, he's what we're looking for," Kelly said) and cornerback Byron Maxwell the team gave up all-time leading rusher LeSean McCoy. They paid a price to clear some cap space to bring in Maxwell, a tall, physical corner ("We felt he was the best corner that was available," Kelly said) who can play the press-and-run coverage defensive coordinator Bill Davis wants. They brought Alonso on board, seeing him as a playmaking force at inside linebacker. They added cornerback Walter Thurmond ("Very competitive player," Kelly said) on a one-year contract to compete for playing time and add much-needed talent and depth.
The pieces are being added. The puzzle is connecting. The vision is coming into focus. And we have a long, long way to go before the roster is complete. The Eagles still have needs. Kelly wants depth and competition and great football players across the board.
It worked on Wednesday as Kelly explained the offseason to date. The Eagles have no intentions of stepping back and they certainly have no plans to timidly pitter-patter into 2015. Kelly is bold, aggressive and he has his plan. Now that he's clued everyone into it, just a bit, there is a sense of understanding and trust and, yes, confidence that so many dramatic changes are just what this Eagles team -- one that missed the playoffs with 10 wins in 2014 -- needs to take that important jump forward.