Ray's Replies: Why so critical of Chip Kelly?

986013.jpg

Ray's Replies: Why so critical of Chip Kelly?

Q. Why are you so pessimistic about Chip Kelly? I saw you on Comcast SportsNet last week and I heard you on WIP Saturday, and you made it sound like Kelly was a terrible hire for the Eagles. Why so negative?

-Harry W.Warminster, Pa.

A. I received a number of e-mails saying the same thing that I was writing off the Chip Kelly hire as a foolish move that is doomed to failure. Just to set the record straight, I said no such thing.

I did say I was skeptical, which only means I have some doubts. Other analysts, such as Heath Evans of NFL.com and my old friend John Clayton at ESPN were far more critical of the hire. John used the term disaster in projecting Kelly as an NFL coach. I did not say anything close to that.

What I said, basically, is lets wait and see. I know thats an unsatisfying answer in an age of media punditry where opinions are expected to be immediate and absolute, but it is best I can do. It isnt meant to be negative.

My biggest concern with Kelly is his lack of NFL experience. It is a huge factor and it cannot be dismissed. It doesnt mean Kelly cant overcome it and be successful, but it is an issue. Look at the history of coaches who tried to make the same leap. See how many crashed and burned.

Marc Garber, a frequent e-mailer from Marietta, Ga., was kind enough to research all the head coaches who were hired with no pro experience since 1970. Kelly is the 15th coach to try it. Of the previous 14, only two won a Super Bowl and they are Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, who rode Johnsons coattails in Dallas.

The others could be divided into the following categories:

Successful Don Coryell (St. Louis, San Diego).

Somewhat successful John Ralston (Denver), Chuck Fairbanks (New England), John McKay (Tampa Bay, made it to an NFC title game).

Unsuccessful Dan Devine (Green Bay), Tommy Prothro (Rams, Chargers), Bud Wilkinson (St. Louis Cardinals), Daryl Rodgers (Detroit), Dennis Erickson (Seattle, San Francisco).

Disasters Bill Peterson (Houston, went 1-18), Lou Holtz (didnt finish one season with the Jets), Bobby Petrino (didnt finish one season in Atlanta).

You can toss in Steve Spurrier, who had pro playing experience but no pro coaching experience when he made the jump from the University of Florida, where he was the hottest coach in the land, to the Redskins, where he fizzled out in two seasons.

Every situation is different, and it is impossible to compare Chip Kelly to, say, Lou Holtz, but it would be nave to pretend this history doesnt matter.

Pro football is a different game. The athletes are older, wealthier and more independent. They are as likely to listen to their agent as their coach. In college, the coach is king. He runs everything. He calls every shot from practice times to the pre-game meal. The NFL is a billion-dollar business with more layers and more people to answer to.

Some coaches are smart enough and slick enough to adapt. Others never figure it out. Where Kelly fits, we dont know just yet.

I have two concerns: One involves the frenetic tempo of his offense. I know thats what has many people, including Jeff Lurie, excited. But to play at that pace on Sunday, a team must practice at that pace during the week. It isnt that hard to do in college with more than 100 players including scout teamers who will run reps forever. But it is more of a challenge in the NFL, where you have half as many players, many of whom are older and more battered and may be unavailable for days at a time.

That is why it is critical that Kelly hire assistant coaches with pro experience, guys who understand the rhythms of an NFL season as well as the restrictions put in place by the players union regarding practices, training camp, contact drills, etc. Kelly needs time to build his team but that time will be dictated, in part, by things beyond his control. He is not in Oregon anymore.

The other concern is his level of commitment. Kelly has been a college coach. He has enjoyed enormous success and made a lot of money as a college coach. He knows he can thrive there. For him, pro football is a leap into the unknown. What happens if it doesnt go well? How long will it be before he starts getting a wistful take me back to campus look in his eye?

Holtz and Petrino didnt make it through one season before deciding pro football wasnt for them. Spurrier gave it two years. The point is that they knew they could go back to college and pick up where they left off. The NFL would be just a footnote in their resume, a fling that didnt work out. They landed on their feet. It was their franchises that took the fall.

In time, well get a better read on Chip Kelly and well have a better sense of whether this marriage will be a success. Im not saying it cant work. Jimmy Johnson proved it can work. Don Coryell, even though he never won a Super Bowl, proved it can work.

Im just saying lets wait and see.

E-mail Ray Didinger at viewfromthehall@comcast.net

Tonight's lineup: Cody Asche bats 3rd; Ryan Howard in for Tommy Joseph

Tonight's lineup: Cody Asche bats 3rd; Ryan Howard in for Tommy Joseph

After a scorching road trip, Cody Asche bats third for the Phillies in Friday's series opener against the defending champion Kansas City Royals. 

Asche went 12 for 30 on the road trip with six doubles and six RBIs. In 90 plate appearances this season, he's hit .289/.333/.482 with 10 doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs.

Peter Bourjos, also playing well lately, bats second. After hitting .164 in April and .230 in May, Bourjos hit .410 in June, going 25 for 61. The hot streak has his season batting line at a respectable .262/.300/.391.

Ryan Howard gets the start at first base in place of Tommy Joseph, who is down to .223 on the season after going 0 for 11 in Arizona earlier this week.

Howard is 3 for 19 lifetime against Friday's opponent, right-hander Ian Kennedy.

1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Peter Bourjos, RF
3. Cody Asche, LF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P

The Royals may be without their hottest hitter, Kendrys Morales, who is 12 for 16 over his last four games. Morales is Kansas City's everyday DH but would obviously be unavailable in an NL park unless the Royals move Eric Hosmer to right field. Hosmer has played just three innings away from first base in the last three seasons.

New local pro athlete discovers popular convenience store

hoagie.jpg

New local pro athlete discovers popular convenience store

The Philadelphia 76ers may have been lucky on draft night when guard Timoth√© Luwawu-Cabarrot fell to them late in the first round. Many believed the Frenchman to be a potential lottery pick.

And now, Luwawu has learned about something all Philadelphians love. And they also love when new Philadelphians love what they love. And this guy noticed this thing Philly loves is almost spelled like his own name.

How neat.

Despite his last name being Luwawu-Cabarrot, that hasn't stopped local outlets from incorectly calling him "Luwawa."

Source: Sixers to sign veteran point guard Jerryd Bayless

Source: Sixers to sign veteran point guard Jerryd Bayless

The Sixers have been in need of a veteran point guard, and it looks like they have found one on the first day of free agency.

A league source confirmed the Sixers have reached a deal to sign guard Jerryd Bayless. According to the Associated Press, the deal is worth $27 million over three years.  

Bayless, 27, is entering his ninth NBA season. Last season he played for the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 10.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 28.9 minutes per game. Bayless shot 42.3 percent from the field and a career-high 43.7 percent from three. He ranked fifth in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage last season.

The point guard role is unique for the Sixers. First overall pick Ben Simmons can play point-forward. While the Sixers will start him out at the four spot, eventually he will assume some point guard responsibilities as he develops in the NBA. Bayless is a good fit for this situation because he doesn't need to dominate the ball. He also gives the Sixers versatility in the backcourt with his ability to shoot. 

The Sixers have struggled to find consistency at this position. Last season they went through a pool of point guards before trading for Ish Smith in December. That acquisition wasn’t meant as a long-term solution, and Smith reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Pistons on Friday.

The Sixers will be Bayless' seventh team. He previously played for the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Raptors, Grizzlies, Celtics and Bucks. Bayless was the 11th overall pick in the 2008 draft.

When Bayless played in Toronto in 2010-11 and 2011-12, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was the Raptors' president and general manager. This is Colangelo's first free agent signing with the Sixers.