Jeffery Lurie really isn’t messing around anymore.
The guy who let Andy Reid wallow around as the Eagles’ head coach and general manager for over a decade made headlines all over the nation when he decided to fire Chip Kelly from his position as the Eagles’ head coach and “general manager”. On a Tuesday night. Before Week 17. After the players had all gone home.
The move was surprising to many, but mostly because of the timing. Why exactly did Lurie decide to do it when he did? Why didn’t he wait until the end of the season?
Well, it seems like it was becoming clear that he was fed up with Kelly’s use — or maybe misuse — of his role over the personnel. Kelly messed up one too many times. Lurie said that Kelly wasn’t given the choice to just give up his GM duties and remain as coach as many people originally thought. He also said that DeMarco Murray didn’t have any say in the firing (referring to the discussion the two had on a plane ride). Lurie said that they analyzed a lot of different aspects of Kelly’s performance over the entire three years and decided it was best to go in another direction.
I understand that Lurie was trying to end a possible disaster early on. It’s true that the Eagles were in a really difficult situation with all the talented players that Kelly let go and the questionable people he brought in. Lurie thought that he had failed.
Now, I’m not defending everything that Kelly did as the GM, or as a coach, because a lot of those decisions were questionable as well, but I just think it’s too early to tell if his stint as the guy in charge of personnel was unsuccessful. Very, very few times in NFL history has a team’s general manager been fired after one season. It’s nearly impossible to turn around a team and bring in “your guys” in just one season. It just can’t be done on most occasions. It requires multiple years.
Kelly was always “culture over talent,” and that mantra didn’t work out in 2015. But give him another year and maybe it would’ve worked out in the future. It will forever be debated if Kelly would’ve had a successful season in 2016 as the Eagles’ coach. It will likely be one of the biggest “what ifs” for the years to come in Philadelphia sports, especially if the Eagles struggle in 2016 under a new head coach.
If I comprehended Lurie’s press conference correctly, he didn’t believe that Kelly could turn the team around in 2016 with a playoff appearance like he believed Andy Reid could do when he was head coach. He said that every time Reid had a .500 season or worse, he had the confidence that he would turn it around in the next year and make the playoffs. Well, this was Kelly’s first losing season with the team, yet he wasn’t given the same chance Reid was. Many people might not label the Eagles as a rebuilding team in 2015, but you could very well make the argument with that. They overhauled a large percentage of their roster in the attempt to make a team that fit Kelly’s style and preferences.
The rebuild didn’t happen quickly enough, though, at least for Lurie. I find that a little unrealistic though. For the sake of the argument, let’s say that the Eagles were going through a “technical rebuild” in 2015. I’m also assuming that the roster wouldn’t have been blown up the same way it was this past offseason. This would’ve given the core group of players a second year to mesh together and build some more chemistry. Especially if they decided to bring back Sam Bradford, I think a second year in the system would’ve yielded better results.
Lurie said that he never likes to be risk averse. He took a risk in hiring Kelly, but I think he took an equal or even bigger risk in firing him this year. Without seeing how he could rebound from a losing season like he did with Reid, it’s impossible to see really what Kelly is capable of as a coach. That is where I think the mistake was made in firing him so quickly.
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