Kelly’s Semantics Defense is a Weak One
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - When you are filling out your 1040 and list your profession as NFL head coach, let's just say semantics shouldn't be the greatest skill in your tool box.
But mastering the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning is really the only thing Chip Kelly has excelled at in 2015.
His offense is a repetitive and simplistic one, which by its very nature (tempo) handcuffs the effectiveness of Bill Davis' defense, and his first year at the personnel table was an unmitigated disaster.
All that said, however, Chip Kelly is right -- he's not the Philadelphia Eagles general manager.
"I'm not the general manager, so I don't run our personnel department," Kelly claimed Monday after his team was eliminated from the postseason after a two-touchdown loss to Washington on Saturday. "I'm not in charge of scouting. I don't tell our scouts where they are going. (Vice president of player personnel) Ed Marynowitz does a great job with that.
"The only difference is I was in control of the 53-man roster, and now I'm in control of the 90-man roster. But all of those decisions made in-season, we always went over who was available for putting a guy on (injured reserve), we all understand that. My job has never changed."
Somehow I don't think Howie Roseman, who was banished to the business side of One NovaCare Way with his red stapler after losing to Kelly's coup back in January, would have the same take on that.
Actual titles are meaningless in this soap opera, though.
All you need to know is that Roseman was running the Birds' football operations last season and now Kelly is the Grand Poobah, handed the keys to Jeffrey Lurie's football kingdom after winning the power play.
Yet because the team as a whole has regressed every year under Kelly from playoffs to no playoffs to underwater, Kelly now wants back the plausible deniability he enjoyed when Roseman was part of this team's football hierarchy.
What you actually call the guy who has to sign off on any free-agent acquisition, trade or draft pick is pretty inconsequential. In some cities, it might be executive vice president of football operations, in others they might use the general manager title, and in Philadelphia, it's Chip Kelly.
The fact that some media outlets don't use the term de facto in front of GM when describing Kelly's duties might knock them down a few points in linguistics class but it certainly doesn't change the fact that one man is responsible for the mess on the football field in Philadelphia and it's not Marynowitz, who was given the responsibility (by Kelly) to make the schedule for the team's scouts.
"To say I'm a head coach and a general manager, I am not the general manager," Kelly continued. "I don't do anything, I don't negotiate contracts, I don't do any of that stuff. I just have a say of who is on the 90-man roster, as opposed to the 53-man roster. But once the season starts, I have always had control of the 53-man roster. So that has not changed at all, nor has there been any more time devoted to any of that because that's not the way it's set up here."
And that's like saying my wife hands the cashier the $100 after I pick out every single one of the groceries.
Hubris is never a good look for Kelly but disingenuousness is even worse.
Kelly is becoming a bigger liability by the day for Lurie and the Eagles owner needs to throw his coach's love of semantics right back at him.
"OK, Chip, you're not the general manager? Well, then I'm going to hire a GM."
Lurie, however, is unlikely to force the issue and Kelly will continue to get what he wants, all the power with none of the responsibility -- at least for one more year.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen