The Philadelphia Eagles hired the antithesis of Andy Reid in Chip Kelly. Nevertheless, the Eagles were asking for a lot in trusting Kelly to match Reid's resume, and surpass it with a Super Bowl. Although Reid came close and failed to give Philadelphia a championship so many times, he started his playoff career with a bang, which is what the Eagles hope Kelly will do on Jan. 4 against the New Orleans Saints.
Kelly is coaching a home playoff game in the first season of his NFL career. In contrast, Reid hosted one in his second year as a pro head coach in 2000. Back then, the Eagles hosted a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that was not good in cold weather or on the road in January, like the Saints 13 years later.
Reid's first playoff game with the Eagles was flawless, as they cruised past the Buccaneers by 21-3 in 34 degree weather. Although Philadelphia was then thumped by the future NFC champion New York Giants on the road the next week, it was clear that greater things were on the horizon -- regardless of how some greater things would never come to pass.
If the Eagles knock off the Saints, it will be a potential sign for greater things as well, even if they lose to the Carolina Panthers the next week on the road. Of course, then the pressure will be on Kelly and Nick Foles to go further, like Reid and Donovan McNabb did.
Four straight NFC title games and a Super Bowl followed the Eagles' first playoff appearance and win in the Reid era. Asking for that much from Kelly and Foles might still be too great, depending on where their limit is. McNabb was a sure fire success from the start, whereas Foles' long term future is still in doubt, to say nothing of Kelly's.
Back in 2000, a brand new core led by Reid, McNabb, Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins was ready to lead the Eagles for years to come. Yet Foles, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and the current Eagles core aren't as young, and aren't as assured of staying together for years.
Will a playoff victory over the Saints kick off years of success for Kelly, like the wild card win over the Buccaneers did 13 years ago for Reid? Regardless, the Eagles have to actually give Kelly that win first.