Is Chip Kelly Spread Too Thin?
PHILADELPHIA - When Chip Kelly pulled his power play at 1 NovaCare Way, some speculated whether the third-year coach was biting off a bit more than he could chew, essentially taking on two full-time jobs in the most competitive of professions.
Once upon a time coaches with much more professional experience than Kelly like Mike Holmgren and his predecessor Andy Reid were on a trajectory pointing straight toward Canton until they made the same kind of mistake, and now, while both are still considered solid NFL coaches, neither needs to worry about Northeast Ohio being in their future.
And people forget Kelly now actually has three jobs. He's not only the Eagles de facto general manager, he's the head coach and the game-day play caller, a workload that could overwhelm someone with the IQ of John Nash, not the ex-Sixers GM, the Nobel Laureate in Economics.
(Listen to John McMullen discuss the major change the Eagles need to make)
Only about one-third of current NFL head coaches handle the calls themselves on Sundays and there is good reason for that because the logistics of handling a sideline can be untenable if you are also trying to figure out what's going to work on 4th-and-3 with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The great coaches hire people they trust and delegate to them, while keeping an eye on the big picture.
Even Kelly has to delegate certain jobs although undoubtedly he would micro manage every aspect of the Eagles if he could.
Ryan Mathews' plight in Carolina Sunday night highlighted just how flawed Kelly's philosophy of coaching is when the bullets are flying.
The Eagles backup running back had the hot hand against the Panthers yet after his huge 63-yard TD run, Mathews had only one more carry the rest of the way with DeMarco Murray touching it 10 times after that point, leaving many to question why running backs coach Duce Staley, who by Kelly's own admission is solely in charge of the rotation, just didn't ride the hot hand.
The answer seemed obvious, Murray's money, reputation and resume demands he gets the football and Staley, as a position coach, isn't going to feel comfortable making a controversial decision on the fly without the head coach's permission.
But, Kelly is too wrapped up calling his seventh bubble screen of the night to take a step back and see the bigger picture.
With 24 hours to come up with a story, the spin now is that Mathews tweaked his groin.
"I think Duce does a great job because Ryan was hurt yesterday." Kelly said. "So when I talked to Duce about it, we talk about it all the time, Ryan hurt his groin on a 22-yard run before he broke the long run and really couldn't go. So Duce was monitoring him on the sideline (as far as) what he could do and what he couldn't do. I think Duce does a great job with those guys, and I have full trust in Duce doing that."
And Mathews was still able to go for 63 yards after aggravating the groin?
"Yeah, if you watch him when he pulled by (Luke) Kuechly, he said he felt it again; he didn't think he was going to make it in the end zone," the coach claimed. "And then Duce monitored him after that. So Duce is dealing with that in terms of whether he can go in the game after that or he can't go in the game after that. We used him a little bit, but that's really the whole status of the whole thing. I tell you guys exactly what's going on."
So the head coach of this football team was not aware one of his most dangerous offensive weapons was being held back in the guts of a game against an unbeaten team.
Anyone else see a problem with that?
Generally an NFL bye week is used as a self-scouting tool and it's time for Kelly to look in the mirror and understand he's spread himself too thin.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen