The consummate bachelor, Chip Kelly has long had the reputation for being married to football. Since arriving in Philadelphia, the passionate Eagles’ fan base has stood by its pledge of patience as the rebuilding project begins. However, only a quarter of the way through Kelly’s first season as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, the honeymoon period appears to have officially ended.
Having grown tired of former coach Andy Reid’s stale routine, Philly yearned for a new leader to fall in love with. Like a spouse who had become burnt out on a marriage, only Reid’s flaws stood out. Becoming overbearing and annoying, Eagles supporters simply wanted a new flame to change things up from Big Red to help rekindle their romance with their football team.
Enter Kelly, younger than the old model, with fresh looks and a different energy. Eagles Nation fooled itself into believing that their initial expectations would be modest as long as there was change. Through an unimpressive preseason the mantra of patience was repeatedly recited in an attempt to subconsciously brainwash themselves into believing they would be okay with losing and maybe even losing big.
Then the first half of Week 1 happened against the Washington Redskins. It was a half where Eagles fans finally saw the mesmerizing speed at which Kelly’s offense could be executed. Up and down the field the Eagles marched all over an unprepared Redskin defense. Drunk with the belief that the Eagles were already rebuilt because of pounding last year’s NFC East champion into submission, the Delaware Valley quickly forgot about their commitment to the slow build.
Little did everyone know how truly bad the ‘Skins were, going on to start their season 0-3. Followed by a tough loss against the San Diego Chargers that could have easily meant a 2-0 start for the Birds with a couple breaks, Kelly continued to get love letters read to him on talk radio. It wasn’t until the recently divorced Reid showed up at the Eagles’ house to humiliate Kelly that Eagles fans started to question their amorous feelings. How could Reid have so quickly turned around the two-win team that he inherited, but the virile Kelly was struggling with the four-win team he was given?
However, it was Sunday’s demoralizing loss at the hands of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos that officially announced the ending of the Kelly honeymoon. Philly fans are known to appreciate hard work, hustle and toughness above all else. Much like Reid’s team of malcontents from last season, the Eagles’ defense quit in Denver – not just on Kelly and Eagles Nation, but on each other. For at least one quarter and a half of football, it was clear as day. In living color on the big screen TV and pointed out by outstanding color analyst Troy Aikman.
Only four games into his first season as an NFL coach, Kelly gave off the impression that he was over-matched. Unable to give good explanations after the game, his players not only lacked in the execution department, but more importantly in effort. With nine full days to prepare, the whole roster looked clueless to what the Broncos were going to do on both sides of the ball. Instead of rising up and at the very least battling with the NFL’s best team, the Birds looked emotionally defeated and completely disconnected from the contest, giving off the outward appearance that they couldn’t wait to get on the airplane to head home.
Lack of effort and emotion will not be tolerated in Philadelphia. It’s a prerequisite for the fans’ relationship with their football team. The patient waiting period is over, and Kelly’s ability to motivate high paid NFL players has already come into question. How the rest of the marriage plays out is yet to be determined, but rest assured that when the season is over it’s a possibility that Kelly will be looking for new honeymoon spots. Rumors have already spread about the former University of Oregon coach and southern California, a place where the weather is always nice.