Owner Jeff Lurie would rather cut off his arm than get rid of Kelly.

By Peter Gleason

There’s so much speculation about Eagle Supreme Leader Chip Kelly leaving at the end of this season that it might be helpful to step back and get some perspective.

In the first place:

The guys he cut aren’t exactly lighting it up elsewhere, either; it’s not as though Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans, Trent Cole and Cary Williams are making him look silly for moving on, and LeSean McCoy has been productive on the field but has also been in and out of the lineup and appears to have lost a half step or more.

Would Kelly really jump at the chance to leave just one season after being given control of personnel decisions and not really having let his experiment truly play out? Who knows?

What we do know, though, is that if Kelly does leave at the end of the season, there will be a rush from a lot of people to call his tenure in the NFL a “failure.”

Is that fair and true on some level? Sure.

He would have left the NFL not having won a Super Bowl (assuming a big turnaround this season isn’t in the cards), having lasted only three years in the job, and having spent only one offseason in charge of personnel. And that one offseason was one in which he made a widely panned series of moves that didn’t entirely work out. On that level, he would have failed.

But he also had some degree of success. Kelly went 10-6 in each of his first two seasons, though only one of those two teams made the playoffs.

He turned offenses quarterbacked by Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez, for the most part, into efficient, explosive units for the better part of two years. Considering the talent level of those two players, that’s pretty impressive.

Surprisingly, more defensive players than offensive players on the roster saw their play blossom under Kelly: Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Mychal Kendricks, Brandon Graham, Bennie Logan and more have all seen their level of play rise over the past three seasons. Kelly isn’t “in charge” of the defense the same way he is the offense, but the head coach is still “in charge” of everything.

Are those major, franchise-changing successes? No. But they are successes, and if the Kelly era ends after this season, we shouldn’t pretend they didn’t happen.


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