The honeymoon is not over yet between Eagles fans and Chip Kelly, but we are definitely having our first spat. The reason for this disagreement is simple. The coach’s new staff of assistants is terrible.
Now, there’s always a chance the former Oregon mastermind is proving once again that he’s ahead of everybody else, the same way he redefined offense in college football. Visionaries have to embarrass their doubters before they get the respect they deserve.
A more likely scenario is that Kelly flubbed his first big test. It is impossible to spin positively the hiring of 21 assistants with no championship pedigree and a combined NFL record of 280-423-1. Kelly appears to have covered every possible contingency with this humongous new staff except for the most important one — winning.
At his news conference Monday, Kelly flashed engaging wit and offered glib answers to some gentle questions, but his only real explanation for the composition of his staff was that they all fit his desire for “cutting-edge thinkers with an old-school attitude.”
The hardest name to accept is Billy Davis, a veteran who has failed twice as defensive coordinator. His units in San Francisco and Arizona were ranked 32, 26, 20 and 29 overall, and yet he’s won a third shot at it. Kelly’s response to that record of failure was to roll out the old chestnut that coordinators get too much credit for success and too much blame for failure. Ugh.
In Kelly’s overactive imagination, the Browns reunion of Davis with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who just bombed as the head coach in Cleveland, is pure magic. Shurmur has no ego. He’s single-minded about winning. Davis is versatile and smart. The only thing they have shown no knack for in the NFL is winning. Kelly is choosing to ignore that fact, apparently.
Kelly seems to not care about how his assistants have fared elsewhere, nor does he worry about how it looks to the rest of the football world. He knows what he wants, and he got it. Or so he believes.
But this may be the latest example of the fans knowing more than the coach, something we all got accustomed to at the end of the Andy Reid era. In a WIP poll last week, 82-percent said they hated the hiring of Davis. Normally, 82-percent of Eagles fans cannot agree on the color of snow.
When Chip Kelly changed his mind and took the Eagles job last month, there were two main reasons for our jubilation. First, he wasn’t Reid; in the minds of many fans, a two-headed sloth would have been an upgrade. And second, Kelly was an exciting, unknown quantity — not another re-tread from the NFL’s old boy network.
No one was asking the most important question then. But now, after the hiring of these abysmal assistants, it deserves consideration: Does Chip Kelly have any idea about what he’s doing?
— Angelo Cataldi is host of 94 WIP’s Morning Show, airs weekdays 5:30-10 a.m.
Vick shouldn’t get another chance here
Mike Vick is bringing his tired act back for one more summer, thanks to a new deal that makes no sense. The over-the-hill QB agreed to a re-structured deal that promises only a chance to win the starting job in training camp.
What it doesn’t promise — and never could — is that Vick will find the good health and quick feet that distinguished the early part of his career. These days, every hit could be the last his brittle body can absorb, every throw proof that his decision-making hasn’t gotten any better as his skills have eroded.
Why would Chip Kelly, who represents a fresh start for the Eagles, reach into the team’s ugly past? At his news conference yesterday, the coach pointed out that Vick is actually younger than Eli Manning and Tony Romo, and that he is “a competitor.”
Obviously, Kelly isn’t enamored with Nick Foles, despite the coach’s hollow praise. Foles may not have the mobility Kelly wants for his fast-paced offense, but Vick falls even shorter in what the coach said was his top priority in a QB — the ability to make quick and smart decisions.
The frustrating part for fans is that we are all too familiar with Vick’s disappointing style. We know Vick talks a much better game than he is capable of playing. We know he is no longer worth the angst he still inspires in fans. And –above all — we know he is not the answer at quarterback for the Eagles in 2013.
Four cents for your thoughts
A Sixers fan got into a game last week at the Wells Fargo Center for 72 cents, and that’s not the most amazing part of the story. He bought 18 tickets for that price. That’s right, a man went online and bought an entire row for the game against Indiana for four cents per ticket.
Two days later, I asked Sixers CEO Adam Aron on my WIP radio show how he felt about the incredibly low prices people are paying on the secondary market to watch his team.
“The way we played in the third quarter,” Aron said, “I think the guy overpaid.”
Aron and the principal owner of the Sixers, Joshua Harris, are extraordinary businessmen running a failing business. They didn’t get into the financial position to buy an NBA franchise by making dumb decisions, and yet right now they have to be wondering if this Sixers adventure was a horrendous mistake.
After the high-stakes Wall Street life where Aron and Harris made their fortunes, Andrew Bynum represents a penny stock to them. He still might pay off, but there’s a much better chance that he’ll go bust first. If Bynum doesn’t make it back this season — and soon — four-cent tickets are going to become the norm, as will losing.
On a team with no real stars, no buzz, and a coach who seems to be nearing his final act, the owners may actually be the people who most deserve our support. Hey, if nothing else, they appear to be the only ones left who still care about the Sixers.
Idle thoughts from Cataldi
» The Baltimore Ravens are planning to erect a statue to Ray Lewis, their beloved hero, outside M&T Bank Stadium. In a related development, I have decided to raise pigeons. Then I plan to move into the neighborhood surrounding M&T Bank Stadium. Ray Lewis is not my beloved hero.
» Once his suspension had ended, the mastermind of Bountygate, Gregg Williams, was out of work exactly one day before getting a new coaching position in Tennessee last week. Yeah, that’ll teach him what happens when you break the rules.
» Continuing to use Ilya Bryzgalov as the Flyers’ shootout goaltender is insane when it’s so obvious he can’t stop a one-on-one play of any kind. Coach Peter Laviolette needs to invent a new specialist, the shootout goalie. Otherwise, the Flyers are a good bet not to make the playoffs.
» Demetress Bell, we hardly knew ye. The big lug recruited as a free agent to replace Jason Peters on the Eagles’ offensive line was released last week, after one awful season. Of course, Bell was Andy Reid’s idea, not Howie Roseman’s. None of the recent terrible personnel decisions were Roseman’s ideas. Please remember that.
» The Phillies’ truck has arrived in Clearwater, Fla., filled with bats and balls, and all of the other good stuff signifying a brand-new baseball season. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting this week. Only 48 days remain until the opener in Atlanta. Not that we’re counting, or anything.