The Philadelphia Eagles looked like a safe, understandable destination for Chip Kelly over a week ago. If he joined the Eagles then, it wouldn’t have raised that many eyebrows and would have been a big boost to his career. However, once ESPN broke that he signed with Philadelphia on Jan. 16, a week after allegedly deciding to stay in Oregon, the circumstances are more questionable.
Oregon never officially announced that Kelly was coming back to school, even after reports broke that he would on Jan. 6. But because there were no reports to the contrary, and because the Eagles moved on to interview many other candidates, no one thought Kelly would change his mind again. Yet the fact that he did, and ultimately broke Oregon’s hearts more than he would have last week, could come back to haunt him.
Kelly and Nick Saban have been compared to each other for some time, albeit as two of the best college coaches in America. But before Saban built a dynasty with the Alabama Crimson Tide, he was indecisive as he bounced around colleges and then joined the NFL. Yet after promising that he wouldn’t leave the Miami Dolphins in 2006 after two years, Saban went back on his word and went to Alabama, ruining his reputation in many circles.
The same fate may befall Kelly, even in places outside of Oregon. Philadelphia is certainly relieved to have its original first choice, especially after all this waiting and the lack of enticing alternates. But if Kelly can leave Oregon after stringing it along like this, intentionally or not, could he do the same to Philadelphia before long?
If Kelly can’t turn the Eagles around quickly and if his offense really doesn’t work in the NFL, it might tempt him to quickly return to college. But if things go that badly and the franchise is further stuck in traction, Eagles fans might push him out themselves like they did with Andy Reid. Either way, is Kelly someone that the Eagles can depend on for the long haul?
After 14 years with Reid that finally went nowhere, the Eagles certainly won’t be that patient with their future head coaches. However, if Kelly’s wandering eye doesn’t settle down, like Saban’s didn’t a decade ago, the decision may not be up to Philadelphia.