Fans were less than enthused with Chip Kelly’s decision to attempt a 60-yard field goal during the Eagles 17-3 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. “Charlie College,” they called him on the blogosphere and talk radio airwaves, insinuating that the brains behind a college football revolution struggles to grasp basic NFL strategy.
Turns out, there’s not much of a rule of thumb here. Only four times in the last five years (2,560 games) had a coach faced what Kelly did on Sunday: fourth-and-1 between an opponent’s 40 and 45 yard line with under one minute to go in the first half. (And those parameters are a bit generous. For Kelly, only 14 seconds remained. If we didn't expand our conditions beyond 15 seconds, our sample size would be only two.)
Granted, none of the four coaches in that scenario over the span trotted out the field goal unit – twice they punted, twice they went for it (both times, unsuccessfully). But it would seem that proclaiming “that’s not what you do THERE!” is a bit baseless, given that “there” is a place mostly unseen.
I get it. Best-case scenario: Henery does what Kelly and Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said he’d been doing throughout pregame and plants a seed through the uprights to even the score, 3-3. Worst-case scenario: Henery’s kick is blocked/short and is returned for a touchdown or, even worse, simply misses and the Cowboys muster a touchdown scoring drive and game-changing momentum.
(Going for it doesn't make much sense. Run, and you move only marginally closer and face basically the same field goal attempt. 60. 57. Tomato, tomato. Throw, and you have to trust Foles to not throw a pick/get strip sacked on a day where Foles was, um, less than trustworthy.)
So, people rationalized, Kelly should have punted, lived to fight another day. Even if that is the supposed opposite of Chip Kelly Football – if there is such a thing anymore.
That's kind of the point here: isn't that Kelly's schtick? Aggressiveness? Trusting his guys? Calculated risks? And outside of the lack of winning/franchise quarterbacking, hasn't the biggest complaint of the Chip Kelly Era been any real semblence to, you know, Chip Kelly? Or any discernible identity?
The underlying psychology is simple. The team looked bad in the first half. Against the Cowboys. Fans were upset. Henery's a punching bag. The call was questionable. It wasn’t mitigated with a make -- let alone a win.
But when you bash a call like that and play the "Charlie College" card, remember what you're really asking for: Chip Kelly to not be Chip Kelly, even in the slightest sense of his supposed nature.