Chip Kelly, Philly’s Man of the Hour

high fives all around

Chip Kelly is all over the Philadelphia news this week.

First, running back LeSean McCoy came down squarely on the coach’s side in the endless controversy over the competition for starting quarterback. He told reporter Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he, for one, is not going to pressure Kelly to pick a quarterback, while demonstrating some of that selfless team focus that the Philadelphia egos are so famous for.

“That’s why they pay Chip Kelly the big bucks, to pick the quarterback,” McCoy said. “Whoever he picks, I’m fine with. As long as I get my carries, I don’t care who they pick.”

By the way, McCoy signed a five-year contract for $45 million during the 2012 off-season. That’s an average of $9 million a year. Kelly makes $6.5 million a year, so if those bucks are big, then McCoy’s must be HUGE, with no decisions required.

LeSean turns his back on the QB controversy

Matthew Straubmuller

McCoy turns his back on the QB controversy

Michael Vick kicked off that whole controversy by honestly answering the question of, would he prefer the quarterback competition to be over? Vick said yes, as anyone already in the lead would if they weren’t being diplomatic, and bored reporters blew it up into a major brouhaha. On Tuesday, Vick walked that back with lots of praise for his new boss.

“Coach is just so straightforward. We talked the next day (after the controversy erupted) and I sent him a text and he called me back and we talked and that was it,” Vick said. “He’s grabbing the attention of everybody on our football team. We’re just focused trying to do what’s best for the organization.”

Training camp doesn’t start for a month, but Vick has clearly been working on his PR skills. Now, if he can just apply that learning curve to holding the football more securely and making quick decisions after the snap, he shouldn’t have any trouble keeping his starting job.

But wait – before Vick gets too comfortable with his position, he should read Zach Berman’s piece in the Inquirer about Matt Barkley’s previous quarterback competitions. Basically, when he was a high school freshman at football power Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif., he beat out two other quarterbacks for the starting job.

At USC?

He did the exact same thing, against older, highly touted players. Barkley graciously points out that neither school had an incumbent quarterback – the predecessor had graduated in both cases.

In my opinion, the bigger difference between these situations, and the biggest concern for both Barkley and Eagles fans, is the number of miles on this very experienced rookie. Eight years of starting at top level programs sounds like a great advantage, but, as Michael Vick knows, more games played also means more hits to the head.

Medicine is just starting to get an idea of what kind of toll these mini- and maxi- concussions take on a player, but it’s hard for me not to wonder if the wear and tear accounts for some of Barkley’s disappointing results his senior year in college.

For a contrast just look to Marcus Mariota, who only played regularly in one of the four years in high school before he took over the Ducks last year.

Mariota’s lack of experience didn’t seem to hold him back much last year when he was selected as the first team all-conference quarterback in the Pac-12 (over Barkley). Or was it the relatively pristine noggin he has kept, just from not being hit? My heart really admires Barkley for going back to college his senior year and finishing college, but it might have been a foolish move from the standpoint of brain health. On the brighter side, Barkley is marrying his long-time girlfriend Brittany Langdon on July 6.

Matt Barkley about to get hit

Monica's Dad

Matt Barkley about to get hit … again.

On the darker side, Oregon finally heard what the NCAA is going to do about the Willie Lyles controversy. Appropriately, given the triviality of the charges, they are going to wag a finger in the Ducks’ general direction and make them promise not to do it again.

Kelly got the personal sanction of if he takes a college job during the next 18 months, the college will have to explain why they shouldn’t get probation similar to Oregon’s. Even that seems a bit much, given that the two-year and three-month investigation found that Kelly was not involved in any way and knew nothing about it, but who cares? There is next to zero chance that he’ll head back to college coaching before the end of 2014. Jason at Bleeding Green Nation wrote, “To put it plainly, an actual slap on the wrist would have been a harsher penalty.”

Nonetheless, Kelly took the charges seriously when he really didn’t have to. He willingly attended an NCAA hearing in April, three months after he had moved on to the Eagles, and issued a statement taking responsibility and apologizing to fans. This was a class move to help his former employer avoid big penalties.

Back in January when the Eagles hired him, though, he was more emphatic about his commitment to the NFL.

Remember that his talks with the Eagles had broken off, just like his earlier talks with Tampa Bay last year and his seven-hour negotiating session with Cleveland this year, before they returned to the negotiating table and worked things out. No one seems to know what the sticking points were, but my guess is that the issue was control over team decisions rather than money.

So naturally, a reporter thought Kelly might be wrestling with the choice between staying with his beloved Ducks and moving to the NFL.

Not so much.

Kelly replied that he was “all in,” and as Geoff Mosher at CSN Philly reminds us:

“I think it was Cortez who burned the boats. I’ve burned the boats so I’m not going back,” he said, referencing the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs in the 1500’s. “I’m in. I’m a NFL coach and this is where I want to be. If there was any indecision in terms of (not wanting to be in), I wouldn’t have made the jump. I made the jump and I’m here and I’m excited to be here.”

As if all that wasn’t enough Kelly talk to keep Philadelphia fans busy, some joker who writes for this blog called FishDuck was going around town flogging a book he wrote called “The Tao of Chip Kelly,” if you can believe it. It was crazy, this guy was on the local ABC-affiliate, Fox’s “Good Day Philadelphia,” CSN Sportsnet, Angelo Cataldi’s big sports radio show, the other big sports station 97.5, in both the Inquirer and the Daily News, the big news radio station, the Birds 24/7 blog, etc. etc. Enough already. Why do we have to listen to this guy blab on? Enough talk, let’s play some football. What? We have to wait until Aug. 9? Ugh.

Yes, a whole book about him

Mark Saltveit

Yes, a whole book about him

Quote of the Week:
“I’ve burned the boats so I’m not going back. ..I’m a NFL coach and this is where I want to be…. I made the jump and I’m here and I’m excited to be here.”– Chip Kelly

Top photo courtesy of Kevin Cline Photography

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Mark Saltveit

Mark Saltveit

Mark Saltveit's newest book is "Controlled Chaos: Chip Kelly's Football Revolution" (Diversion Books, NY) has been recently released. He is the author of "The Tao of Chip Kelly" (2013) and writes on science, religion, wordplay and political scandals. He is also a standup comedian and the world palindrome champion.

  • hoboduck

    Great read and thanks for the update. Always a pleasure hearing CK news.

    You said, “Medicine is just starting to get an idea of what kind of toll these mini- and maxi- concussions take on a player, but it’s hard for me not to wonder if the wear and tear accounts for some of Barkley’s disappointing results his senior year in college.”

    IMHO, I do not believe the mini or maxi’s had anything to do with USC’s lack luster year. LK and his lousy play calling is the first place to look.

    Thanks again…

    Go ducks WTD

  • guest

    Somebody needs a link lesson. That’s the first thing to do after publishing to the web…try your links. ‘Cause yours don’t work. Otherwise, thanks.