Jeffrey Lurie’s lusting after Chip Kelly was the worst kept secret in football. When he finally fired Andy Reid, there was only one man he wanted to hire.
The Eagles owner had been tracking Kelly’s innovations at Oregon ever since being throttled by Cincinnati 34-13 during the 2012 season. Everyone knew it. He just had to sell it to a skeptical fan base.
Kelly took care of all that by exceeding all expectations, leading the Eagles on a wild ride through the NFC East, including the team’s first division title since 2010. Even after a heartbreaking 26-24 loss to New Orleans in the playoffs, it’s hard not to applaud Lurie’s vision.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lurie. “I think that everyone in this room knows it. I was incredibly impressed by how quickly Chip and his staff were able to get this group together and perform extremely well.”
The Eagles were left in abysmal shape when Reid left. The defense ranked among the NFL’s worst. There was instability at the quarterback position. They weren’t shouldering nearly enough of the load on their franchise running back, LeSean McCoy. In his rookie season – his first ever coaching at the professional level – Kelly has seemingly fixed all that, just as quickly as his up-tempo offense gets to the line of scrimmage and runs a play.
“It’s not just about his X’s and O’s, we know it’s pretty dynamic,” Lurie said. “But, his ability to rally and bring people together for a common cause is very impressive and is going to serve us great starting next year.”
Kelly thanked his players for buying into his system. It wasn’t always easy, but the results are undeniable. His one-word message to the guys was pride.
“I just told them I was proud of them,” Kelly said. “For us being together for such a short amount of time, how they acted and how they came to work every single day, as a staff, how much we appreciated them, how they made this from a work environment standpoint, a really special feeling every single day when you go the NovaCare Complex and just thanked them for that.”
As Lurie stated, it’s the tip of the iceberg. With a franchise quarterback firmly in place, along with an ever-improving defense and some of the best skill players in the league, the sky isn’t falling in Philadelphia. If anything, the Eagles are the sky.
“This year we had a young team and they were just finding out how good they were,” said Lurie. “I think if we can get a first-round bye next year, that would be the goal. I think we will aim to win the division and get a bye.”