Chip Kelly: Did Browns Dodge A Bullet?


At one point in time the Cleveland Browns were have assumed to lured Chip Kelly away from Oregon and to the NFL. The Browns contingent and flown to Arizona and many reported that they had agreed to a deal with the architect of the fast paced, all out offense that was sweeping the football landscape. Instead Kelly returned to Oregon, only to then quickly decide to go to the NFL to coach the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Browns regrouped and ended up hiring Rob Chudzinski, only to fire him after only one season. The Browns then went on to hire Mike Pettine, a defensive minded coach who helped the Browns to a surprising 7 – 9 first season. Yet many Browns fans were left with the thoughts of what might have been had Kelly accepted Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam’s offer to take over the Browns. Would the Browns have been able to have the quick turnaround that the Eagles did last year and win the division? Would Banner still be around?

Yet news today comes that not all is at peace in Philly. According to reports Howie Roseman fired Tom Gamble, Chip Kelly’s personnel guy, the guy Kelly wanted when the Eagles hired him. Here is a quick idea of how things are going with Kelly in Philly via ESPN:

"That page is not going to be easy to find if head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman are at odds. And all indications, based on talking to those close to the team and simple logic in the wake of Gamble’s dismissal, are that Roseman and Kelly are not getting along."

(Update: The Eagles have reported that Kelly is now fully responsible for all personnel decisions. He will hire his GM to work for him and Roseman will only be taking care of things like the salary cap. Kelly is now in charge of the entire operation. Doesn’t change the premise of this story much but important information.)

Now it isn’t fair to say that Kelly is responsible for the problems with the Eagles, Roseman is getting most of the heat nationally for this blow up, but it does beg the question whether the Browns dodged a bullet when Kelly turned down their offer?

With Kelly the Browns would have had some tough decisions to make at the quarterback spot. Colt McCoy would have likely been given a chance to win the job, if another QB had not been brought in. The team would have needed to find a signal caller that could process the Kelly information, run the Zone Read and keep the stick moving. McCoy may have been the best option but he wasn’t a good one.

Kelly’s ability to evaluate talent also has been called into question. Kelly and Gamble are considered highly responsible for the Eagles last draft class. As our Philly Locals site talks about, that class is pretty bad outside Jordan Matthews:

"In many senses, the idea of Howie having more player personnel power than Chip should be comforting. When given the reigns last year, Kelly (and Gamble?) produced a draft that had one serious impact rookie in Jordan Matthews. Beau Allen was a nice depth piece, and a good value in the seventh round. Marcus Smith looks like a miserable pick, Josh Huff struggled to hold onto the ball in his rookie season, and it took until late in the season for virtually anyone else to get on the field. Jaylen Watkins played at the end of the year, but what impact he will have on the team in the long-run remains to be seen."

So while Chip Kelly would likely have upgraded the Browns offense, he also seems to have a need for control, struggles with relationships with the Front Office and isn’t a great talent evaluator. In fact, had Kelly been hired by the Browns Joe Banner likely would still be in town. They sound like two peas in a pod, which one would have survived?

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Instead the Browns have Mike Pettine. A defense guy in the tough AFC North. They have Ray Farmer as their General Manager. They have a young roster with loads of talent, still looking to answer their big need at QB. (Yes thinking about Johnny Manziel in Philly is interesting but Kelly passed on a chance to draft him this year, so who knows if he would be interested.)

The Eagles on the other hand have questions from the top down. Who will win the power struggle between Roseman and Kelly? (Generally the answer to any power struggle question is NO ONE.) They have free agents that they have to deal with and could be looking for another quarterback if Nick Foles isn’t seen as the guy. The defense has struggled greatly and is in need of a ton of upgrades. If Kelly somehow is not the coach there next year or the year after, the entire roster will have to be changed over as Kelly’s players are very unique to his system.

Meanwhile Pettine and Farmer enter their second year with a ton of confidence from owner Jimmy Haslam and from the fans. They are ready to build while the Eagles look like they might implode.

Did the Browns dodge a bullet with Chip Kelly?

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