Any Head Coaching Hire Carries Some Risk

Any Head Coaching Hire Carries Some Risk

I tried to count the number of articles and clips that
used gambling analogies to describe the Eagles hiring Chip Kelly to head coach,
but before long I lost track. It seems there are a lot of people out there who
thinks this is either going to work, or it won’t.

Well, duh.

That’s true of EVERYBODY. There are no sure things.

Listen, I understand the specific concerns with Kelly in
particular, and share many of them myself. He has zero pro experience as either
player or coach. He’s known for a style of spread offense that many people believe
amounts to nothing more than a gimmick at the NFL level. His philosophies are
ultra aggressive.

But how is any other candidate less of a gamble?

Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, and Brian Billick have won Super
Bowls, but surely you are aware no head coach has ever hoisted the Lombardi
Trophy with two different teams. Gus Bradley and Mike McCoy were among the best
assistants in the league, but so were Norv Turner and Ken Whisenhunt at one
time or another. Andy Reid and Lovie Smith are solid head coaches, but by no
standard great.

Whether it’s an NFL assistant or retread – even one who has
been to the mountain top – or somebody straight from the college ranks, there is
no way to predict success.

They all fail though. They all fail somewhere, eventually.

I admit it, the biggest thing I don’t like: no pro
experience. We’ve seen a long line of NCAA talents try to make the jump and not
just fail, but fail spectacularly. Some of them can’t even wait to be fired
before they run away.

But then what’s the difference between one or two abysmal
seasons – we’re talking of the Heath Evans’ “worst head coach in history”
variety – and the mediocre program that hovers around .500 for four or five
years, maybe sneaking into the playoffs once or twice? And to the Super
Bowl-or-bust folks, what’s the difference between either of those situations and what the
Eagles had with Reid the past 14 years?

Is hiring Chip any more or less of a gamble than, say, had Jeffrey
Lurie stuck with Andy for year number 15? At least you would know what you’re
getting, I guess.

As if knowing is somehow better. It’s not. More comforting,
maybe – maybe.

If the fear is Kelly could be a setback from which it takes
the Eagles years to recover, look around. The team went 4-12. They
haven’t won a playoff game since the ’08 season, not to mention lack an obvious franchise
quarterback or the apparent means to acquire one.

This organization can’t be setback much further than it is
already, other than in years – as in the length of time it winds up taking to rebuild
this mess. Considering Philly fans have been waiting over 50 years since the
city’s last NFL championship, I’d say years we’ve got.

Chip Kelly was no more a risk or gamble than anybody else. The
coaching world has seen it all: from the rise and fall of a perennial contender
under the same hand like what we witnessed under Reid, to a so-called
retread becoming one of the greatest coaches of all time in Bill Belichick. Or
if you’re searching for a related example, look no further than Jimmy Johnson
coming from Miami University to build a dynasty out of the Dallas Cowboys.

Not that anybody is comparing. At the end of the day though,
the devil is in the details. There are good head coaches and there are bad head
coaches, but in this league, when and whether any of them eventually achieve
success often depends on circumstances beyond just their name and pedigree.

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

There's your Philadelphia 76ers season in a nutshell, huh? Nerlens Noel gets traded for an all-lemon pack of Starbursts, Ben Simmons' right foot is still apparently stuck in a beartrap, Joel Embiid can't get himself dismissed from the nurse's office, and Jahlil Okafor is forced back into +1 status after everyone else passed on going to the concert with Bryan Colangelo -- and the Ballers still go out and beat one of the best teams in the East in their first game back from the All-Star break. Nearly everything about the Sixers is depressing right now, except for the team themselves. They're cool. 

Kudos to Brett Brown, man. The team is playing with such fluency and energy right now that it can withstand some losses in personnel without the drop-off being particularly dramatic -- at least for the moment. Replacing Embiid and Noel with Okafor and Holmes for as long as we'll have to do it will catch up with us in time, but for now, all you can do is marvel at the pace, cohesion and (with some mildly glaring moments of exception) discipline that Brown has the guys playing at the moment. I doubt there are five coaches in the league having a more impressive season than him right now. 

But the players were pretty good in this one, too. Dario Saric had 20-11-4 in his first start in three weeks, continuing his unlikely Rookie of the Year surge with his third-straight double-double and fourth game of 20-plus in his last six games. The All-Star Break hasn't cooled Robert Covington's hot hand, as the shooter went 5-9 from deep last night and is now 17-31 on threes over his last four games, also posting a 20-10 night with his 25 points and 11 boards. (Also three assists and four steals, whatever.) Richaun Holmes dunked over some people and reminded a handful of fans why they've gotten way too excited about him at various points earlier in the year. Good times were had by all. 

Games like last night's also just remind you how marginal the difference between winning and losing is. As they've been wont to do forever, the Sixers blew their considerable lead to the Wizards late in this one, which would've undoubtedly resulted in a tragic loss in years past. But these days, the leads are a little bigger going into the Sixers' fourth-quarter tailspins, and their defense is just a little tighter on critical possessions, and that's the difference between losing on a Bradley Beal buzzer-beater and hitting just enough free throws to squeak out a mildly secure 120-112 victory. 

Anyway, after an impossibly discouraging week of Sixers happenings, it turns out some actual Sixers basketball is just what we needed. Hopefully their level of play will continue to get better as news of their off-court developments invariably keeps getting worse .

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart (see full recap).

Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 17 points in his 28th triple-double of the season, and his new teammates fit in seamlessly as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-93 on Friday night.

Westbrook also had 18 rebounds and 17 assists for the 65th triple-double of his career.

It was the first game for new Thunder players Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Gibson scored 12 points and McDermott added eight, even though they arrived Thursday night and weren't even available for shootaround on Friday.

Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson each set a career high with 19 points, and Steven Adams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.

D'Angelo Russell scored 29 for the Lakers (see full recap).

Pacers beat Grizzlies to snap six-game skid
INDIANAPOLIS -- CJ Miles made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, Paul George had nine points and nine rebounds after remaining with Indiana following the trade deadline, and the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Monta Ellis finished with 16 points, Myles Turner scored 12, and Lavoy Allen, Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young each added 10 for the Pacers.

The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies 64-42 across the middle two quarters and never relinquished their lead, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Grizzlies finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor (35 for 84).

Troy Daniels had 13 points for Memphis and Marc Gasol scored 12. Indiana outrebounded Memphis 50-39 and scored 29 points off 17 Grizzlies turnovers (see full recap).