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.

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Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).