Both the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals came to a fork in the NFL road when it came to hiring head coaches in January.
The Eagles went down the road marked “new and innovative” while the Cardinals made the comfortable turn at “old school.”
After the Eagles beat the Cardinals, 24-21, on Sunday afternoon, the Eagles have to be thinking they made the right turn on what is now known as Kelly Drive. While Chip Kelly brought his up-tempo and “sports science” philosophies from Oregon, Arians brought over 20 years of NFL coaching knowledge and contacts into building a staff many thought better-suited to the pro game.
The road Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie went down is littered with wrecks ridden by guys like Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier—guys who could not adjust to the pro game and had to go back to the college one—so he took a gamble with the innovative offense and the sports science.
Right now, the gamble is paying off as the Eagles have won nearly twice as many games they won with an “old-school” guy, Andy Reid, last season and they have four games remaining. On the other hand, the Cardinals picked a guy known as a quarterback guru who developed Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts. To do what he’s done with Carson Palmer in lifting his career off the scrap heap might be the most impressive reclamation project of them all.
The Eagles and Cardinals were like two ships passing on this NFL Sunday, and while both have winning records, one appears to be more sturdy for the long voyage ahead, proving that new and innovative in a league set in its ways is not always a bad thing.
Mike Gibson, an Associated Press Sports Editors’ Association and Keystone Press Association award-winner for Best Sports Story and Best Sports Feature, is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.