Chip Kelly's hiring as the Eagles' head coach has raised a few key questions:
Which quarterback will fit Kelly's system? What's his biggest challenge in jumping to the NFL? What will the Eagles' defense look like?
Your son Eric played this past year -- he's a sophomore wide receiver at Oregon -- so you have a little bit of insight on what Chip Kelly does in that offense and his coaching style.
My son has actually been there three years and is a redshirt sophomore, and Ive known Coach Kelly since then, and I tell you, Philadelphia is getting a tremendous coach. In watching him practice and seeing what they do in the spring and training camp when I was there, they practice a lot like a NFL team.
I dont think the adjustment is going to be too big and, I dont know this for a fact because I havent talked to Coach Kelly in about two weeks, but I have to think, in watching Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson do what they have done in the playoffs has led him to know that there is parts of what I do that can work and we can put pressure on people with a mobile quarterback and do some things.
I think hes going to have fun there, but hell do what his personnel dictates. Thats the one thing I really enjoyed watching them over three years. He had three different quarterbacks -- Jeremiah Masoli and then went to Derron Thomas and then to Marcus Mariota this year -- and they did a little bit of different things with each one, but they played to their strengths and won a lot of games. So again, I would have to be very excited if I were a Philadelphia fan.
Well, I think thats going to be a money driven decision and well see what happens. I do know Coach Kelly really liked Nick Foles. I watched Nick play against Oregon twice and have two outstanding games and throw the ball all around and make plays and I know Coach Kelly likes playmakers, so itll be interesting to see. I think Michael could flourish in that offense, for sure. Its just that probably will come down to money.
But the one thing I can tell you about Coach Kelly, he will adjust to his personnel. Hell use guys in the way they can be used best. I know DeAnthony Thomas was a highly recruited kid to go to USC and play corner because people didnt think he was big enough to play on offense and certainly not big enough to play running back, and Chip told him, You come here and Ill find a way to use you and make you a dynamic player, and thats what happened. They used him in the slot. They used him in some different ways running the ball and got the ball to him and hes a great player. So I think thats really coachs strength is getting the most out of his personnel.
What is Chip Kellys biggest challenge in his jump to the NFL?
The biggest challenge for anybody coming in is just getting people to believe and there is going to be some skepticism from his players and from everybody at first. Is this really going to work? Is this guy a pro coach? But Ill tell you what, hell do well once they get to know him and once they just see his demeanor and what he thinks about football. Hes going to impress them and once he gets everyone to believe, theyre going to be effective.
Do you feel as if a guy in Chip Kelly -- he brings an innovative mind that maybe other teams and other coaches around the league will catch on to and will follow once he gets here?
Well, he thinks outside of the box, and hes not afraid to be a risk taker and be a little different from the crowd. I know this was Philadelphias first choice. I happened to talk to both Chip and Jeffrey Lurie way back when this thing first started. I have a little bit of self-interest -- I was trying to talk like a dad and talk Coach Kelly into staying, but also talk from the perspective of being a former NFL coach and the things the Philly organization could give Coach and what its like coaching in the NFL and that type of thing.
I think he was intrigued by that and he wants to step up to the challenge, and I think hes going to do it. Again, the big thing I saw in three years was utilizing personnel, and the National Championship game was my sons first year, and Auburn had 10 guys drafted off that team -- that was Cam Newton, Nick Fairley and that group -- and Oregon played them right down to the last play, lost on a field goal on the last play of the game, and the only guy they had drafted that year was Casey Matthews, who went to Philadelphia. But that was, I think really spoke to what Coach Kelly can do -- take guys that might not be prototypical players, but use them in a way they can perform and produce.
What do you see in terms of the Eagles' defense with Chip Kelly as the head coach?
Well, I think, No. 1, the reason why they hired Chip Kelly was not to fix the defense. Hell get that done and hell get a competent person in there to run that side of the ball. But I know they hired him to be explosive and to move the ball and score points and I think that is his philosophy: Hey, were gonna put pressure on people to keep up with us scoring' and I think Philadelphia will do that. I think youll see some really good offense, and the one thing hes not going to micromanage the defense. Hes going to set a tone for the whole team, and the way theyre going to play and the attention to detail and the focus and the attitude and theyll play good defense.
I think its a great move and theres no doubt in my mind Coach Kelly is going to be a special coach in the NFL.