Analyzing Potential Landing Spots for Chip Kelly
Where does Chip Kelly go from here?
The rise and fall of Chip Kelly, in a way, is a microcosm of how reactionary sports media is. When he was winning ten games a year, Kelly was a revolutionary, taking the game by storm. Two short years later, many have written him off as a failed experiment who needs to go back to college.
Kelly has been adamant that he wants to stay in the NFL next year. Fair or not, coaches just don’t get three cracks at head coaching gigs. As such, he’ll most likely have to catch on as an offensive coordinator to stick around the pros.
As a uniquely talented coach, the former Oregon Duck can’t just go anywhere. He’ll need to find a situation conducive to his supercharged offensive system. For us to determine such fits, we first need to sort fact from fiction of his offense.
What is Kelly’s offense actually?
Writers have branded Kelly’s attack as a gimmick offense because of his aggressive use of tempo. This is a bit of a misnomer. Conceptually, Kelly isn’t doing things that differently from anyone else. The coach runs a fairly basic spread offense that he dresses up by tempo, pre-snap motion, and creative formations. This can work well because when you play at breakneck pace, it forces defenses to play vanilla coverages. Also, it prevents them from substituting as often as they’d like.
This approach only works when Kelly has talented athletes at his disposal. Gary Grambling of the MMQB put it best when he related it to Seattle’s acclaimed Cover 3 defense. When Kelly has playmakers to work with, they can play fast, loose, and a headache to defend. As we’ve seen the last two years, however, it becomes stale and predictable without them. When Kelly’s attack was giving defenses nightmares, it was armed with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy. The past two years, his top threats have been average talents in Jordan Matthews and Torrey Smith.
There is some credence to the claims that Kelly’s offense is “quarterback-proof”. His offense gives the quarterback simple looks with defined reads off a variety of boots, digs, and crossers. This minimizes the quarterback in a way, as they have less demand to drop back and read the defense. Most of all, Kelly needs his signal caller to be decisive and accurate.
With all that being said, let’s look at some potential landing spots for “The Genius”.
Despite a 3-13 finish, there is a lot to like on this offense. Dave Caldwell tacitly opted for continuity at quarterback by keeping interim coach Doug Marrone. Kelly’s scheme minimizes Bortles’ issues in terms of diagnosing coverages and precision accuracy. More importantly, he’ll have some exciting young playmakers on the perimeter in Allen Robinson, Marquise Lee, and Allen Hurns. TJ Yeldon is a smooth runner with good lateral agility that would be an ideal fit in this zone scheme.
There has been a lot made of the burden Kelly’s uptempo offense places on the defense. With the most celebrated unit of the last two years opposite of him, this won’t be an issue. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders make up one of the best one-two combinations in football. CJ Anderson, who was sensational before a season-ending meniscus tear, would be exciting in this offense. He could be an ideal centerpiece while whoever is starting at quarterback learns the ropes. The offensive line situation would need a full-scale overhaul as well.
All signs point to Tyrod Taylor being shown the door this offseason. Even so, one can only imagine the marriage of a Kelly-Taylor led offense. Taylor is a smooth, accurate passer who has enough arm strength and game breaking speed. Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn are two stable cogs along the line. Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Charles Clay lead a talented group of pass catchers. However, there is a glaring hangup here named LeSean McCoy.
Los Angeles Rams
This offense needs an injection of life after years lost in the woods in St. Louis. The number one priority for whoever takes this job is developing number one pick Jared Goff. Kelly shown he is up to the task of developing a young quarterback. Tavon Austin and Todd Gurley have gone to waste with bad quarterback play and unimaginative play calling. Perhaps most importantly, Kelly is the kind of splashy move that Stan Kroenke seems desperate to make.
Going Back to College