Memo to Chip Kelly: Players, not Systems, Win in the NFL

Philadelphia-EaglesWhen I first learned of the LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso trade, two thoughts entered my mind:

  • Did Chip Kelly fall and bump his head?
  • He must REALLY want to change Philadelphia’s mascot to the Ducks.

All kidding aside, one thing was apparent when that trade went down: Kelly was hell bent on the Eagles being HIS team.

Don’t believe me?  Let’s take a gander of the personnel moves Kelly made since leaving the University of Oregon to coach Philly.

The first major move he made was getting DeSean Jackson out of town.  Despite Jackson being one of the premier deep threats in the NFL, Kelly soured on Jackson’s “me-first” attitude.  In Kelly’s eyes, Jackson was not about the team and wasn’t too fond of his system.  Kelly, along with Eagles management, went out of his way in sullying Jackson’s reputation.

Remember all those “leaks” about Jackson’s possible gang affiliations?  Yeah, I do too.

The next dominoes to fall were defensive end/outside linebacker Trent Cole and cornerback Cary Williams, with the latter being used like toilet tissue by even the lesser star receivers last season.

And in the biggest bombshell to date, Kelly jettisoned McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for Alonso.  Sure McCoy didn’t have a stellar seasons by his own standards (scoring only five touchdowns), but he did still rush for over 1,300 yards (1,319 to be exact) and averaged over four yards a carry.  He was the engine that made the Eagles offense go the last few seasons.

Yet Kelly believed in Alonso, who while having a stellar rookie season (amassing 159 tackles) missed all of last season due to injury.  Oh, and he also played under Kelly at Oregon.

In moving McCoy, Kelly believes more in his system more so than the personnel.  His offenses at Oregon set college football on fire, and he is more than sure that same offensive system will tear NFL defenses apart.

And while having and adhering to a system is all fine and dandy, Kelly must be careful of not learning the same lesson that other like-minded coaches made before him: players, not systems, make NFL coaches successful.

There are plenty of those cautionary tales in the NFL.

Mike Shanahan is regarded as one of the best offensive minds in football.  Yet after QB John Elway retired, Shanahan’s record has been mediocre at best.  The dumpster fire in Washington only sullied Shanahan’s rep as an offensive guru even more.

John Gruden is another offensive guru of sorts.  Gruden never had the offensive firepower in Tampa Bay as he did in Oakland with QB Rich Gannon leading the way.

And we all know what happened to the likes of Marc Trestman and *gasp* George Seiffert.

Look, I’m not saying that Kelly is guaranteed to fall on his face for believing that an offensive system that was successful in college could work in the NFL.  I think he has the moxie to do his best in realizing that goal.

I’m just saying that no matter how successful one’s offensive (or defensive) system may be, it won’t translate to wins if any coach does not have the talented players to execute said system.

Hell if Boo-Boo the Fool was coaching an NFL team full of talented players, he’d be guaranteed at least division titles.  Just look at Barry Switzer…

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