Chip Kelly faced a lot of doubters when he became the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. There were countless people who felt his “college” offense wouldn’t work in the NFL and that he would be chased from the league as another college hot-shot like Steve Spurrier or Bobby Petrino. But even though Kelly’s first season ended in a defeat in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs, there’s no denying that Chip Kelly was a success in year one with the Eagles.
Taking over a team that went 4-16 last season, Kelly was tasked with reinvigorating a Philly team that had fallen flat under former head coach Andy Reid. It was a roster that was lacking in talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and were not expected to be much of a factor this season. Their chances seemed to take an even bigger hit when Mike Vick was lost to injury and the team turned to second-year backup Nick Foles.
But Kelly proved to be more than just a “gimmicky” offense and implemented his power-running schemes that helped LeSean McCoy break out in 2013 and win the NFL rushing title by a wide margin. Foles also surprised folks by leading the league in passer rating as he took control of the Eagles’ offense and never relinquished the starter’s job back to Vick even after the veteran became cleared to play again. Even the defense took some strides this season as the team turned over much of the roster looking for playmakers.
And they got significant results immediately. After finishing 2012 at 4-12, Philadelphia became NFC East division champions in 2013 and hosted a playoff game. While they came up short against the New Orleans Saints, there’s plenty for Philadelphia to be proud of in the first year under Kelly. While it didn’t finish the way they wanted it to, they exceeded expectations this season and still with a roster that lacks the playmakers to be a Super Bowl contender.
With another offseason for Kelly to shape this Philadelphia team, they will undoubtedly take the next step towards becoming a real contender in the coming seasons. With one season in the books, however, it’s safe to say that Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles are a successful combination.