As far as getting started in the city of Brotherly Love, Chip Kelly has had a pretty smooth ride. He became the head coach in a town where football has more recently taken a back seat to baseball, took over for a coach coming off a 4-12 season and was selected to replace the winningest coach in franchise history, who became stale and was basically forced out after two-straight seasons of failure and nothing to show for all his past runs.
Expectations are at an all-time low for the Philadelphia Eagles with the exception of Kelly being the new man at the helm.
Thus far, Kelly has said all the right things, attended all the right events and structured a team around his new-age offensive philosophy. In addition, without having coached a game for the Eagles, he has already changed the makeup of the defense as well, creating a hybrid which will feature both a 4-3 and 3-4. He has been the one driving force that has kept people in the city excited about football, as the summer heat melts away the days until training camp.
However, one game during the Eagles 2013 NFL season will mean more to the fan base and their accepting of Kelly than any other game, regardless of long-lived divisional rivalries. On Thursday, Sept. 19, Andy Reid will return to Philadelphia for the first time, as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, since leaving a sour taste in the mouth of every fan that bleeds Eagle green. It will be just the second regular season game which Kelly will coach in front of the home crowd, and it will come just four days after the home opener. The outcome of the game will go a long way in determining how well Kelly is accepted as the new leader of Philadelphia football.
Pressure will continue to mount as his tenure moves along and the expectations return in a city where being mediocre is just not acceptable. Kelly was chosen for the job because of his off-the-cuff ideas and his unmatched work ethic. He lives football day and night, and he just might need to in order to prepare the Eagles to beat the incoming Chiefs, on short rest, solidifying the fan base by his side, as he attempts to rebuild a franchise and right a ship that always has so much expected of it. Only time will tell if Kelly can meet the bar, but the first big step will definitely come against his predecessor at Lincoln Financial Field.