The Philadelphia Eagles obviously must hate being compared to the Dallas Cowboys. Not only couldn’t the Eagles match up to the legendary Cowboys’ of the 90’s, they are as big a disappointment as the post-Jimmy Johnson Cowboys have been in the last 16 years. However, Johnson’s Dallas years may be the blueprint that Philadelphia has to follow under Chip Kelly.
As Yahoo Sports’ Jason Cole pointed out on Jan. 24, Johnson won Super Bowls and didn't need any prior NFL experience - which Kelly doesn't have either. In fact, Johnson not only rebounded from a 1-15 opening season in 1989 to win it all in 1992 and 1993, he did it as the first ever Dallas coach other than Tom Landry.
Compared to that, Kelly’s task in getting out of Andy Reid’s shadow to make the Eagles winners again is nothing. In addition, when Johnson arrived in Dallas in 1989, he had nothing but Herschel Walker, whom he had to trade to start bringing in legends like Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. But he picked up Troy Aikman in his first NFL draft, whereas no one like him seems to be in this year’s draft crop for Kelly.
Although the NFL put Johnson on a whole new level, he was already used to an intense spotlight as coach of the Miami Hurricanes. They were the most high profile, controversial college team of their era, yet still won championships anyway. In contrast, while Kelly won big with the Oregon Ducks, it wasn’t under such an intense spotlight -- and he lost his only chance at a national championship in 2011.
Johnson was battle tested and ready for the Cowboys, even without any NFL experience. He also had the wisdom to “get the people he needs to run his system” which Coles says that Kelly must do. Yet getting all of those lucky breaks that Johnson had, and winning Super Bowls with them, is very rare in the NFL and especially in Philadelphia.
Reid turned the Eagles around in a hurry, but never got over the hump like Johnson did. But then again, the Eagles have never gotten over the hump the way the Cowboys used to. Dallas is a long way removed from the Johnson years now, yet can Philadelphia and Kelly revive that legacy -- like the modern day Cowboys have never done?