Chip Kelly is to modern football what the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" was to music in 1975. They both broke previous conventions, went way out there where no one has gone before, and blew people's minds. Among football coaches, the first year Philadelphia Eagles football coach has some of former Dallas Cowboy coach Tom Landry in him. Landry created new football concepts more than anyone of his era. Kelly also channels a bit of Tampa Bay Rays baseball coach Joe Madden, who blazes trails with the quirky places he puts his defensive players. And he has a striking similarity to former Loyola Marymount basketball coach Paul Westhead, who had one overriding goal: score a huge number of points per game and count on the other team not being able to match it.
If Kelly were a female pop star, he might be Lady Gaga; if a painter, Picasso; if a pianist, Beethoven; if a maniac, Dennis Rodman.
Kelly showed the football world his blitzkrieg offensive last night in freaking out the Washington Redskins for 33 points in the first half and running 57 plays-among the most ever run in one half in NFL history. His team executed plays so fast I couldn't read my Twitter feed without missing action, couldn't go get another pulled pork sammie in the kitchen without missing the Eagles score another touchdown.
Kelly is single-mindedly bent on doing one thing in an extreme fashion and no one is going to stop him. He thinks unconventionally, read books back to front in a sense. Can you imagine the first day Kelly walked into the Oregon football coach's meeting and probably said something along these lines:
"We're going to run more offensive plays than any football team ever has in the 100 plus years the game has been played. No offensive play can be run fast enough in my mind. The faster the better. The more plays the more desirable, the more zany, the more fun, the more blow-out wins. I don't care how tired our players get or the other team's players get. We will do this and it will send the football intelligentsia into collective orbit. They will have never seen anything like it and it will flummox and perturb them. Our offensive will line up in so many more formations than any other football team ever that defenses will be bewildered and neutered. We will run so many different plays that no defense will have a clue how to prepare for us. We will spread teams out, fake hand-offs, throw passes just like football teams have done for decades. But we will do this three times faster at least and, ideally, four times faster. There will be no resting for anyone. Football will become a full-on sprint, maniacally feverish, beyond the realm of reason, 100 yards of heart pumping for the entire game, every game, every week, all season long, every year."
Can you imagine the assistant coaches hearing this crazy man and being skeptical, saying "it would never work, players would get too tired, couldn't possibly remember so many plays and formations? It had never been done before, they would argue, so what made Kelly believe he could rock the foundations of the game? It was rebellious, daring, and too over-the-top. Let's do something more conventional and not risk all of us losing our jobs by losing a bunch of games. Let's do some more regular football."
In spectacular fashion Kelly proved those Oregon coaches wrong, becoming one of the elite coaches in college football, crushing opponents week after week, year after year. It almost didn't seem fair to the other teams. His success earned him the head coaching job with the Eagles. His speed-demon strategy last night bedeviled the Redskins. He was right and everybody else who doubted him was wrong.-at least to this point. Looking ahead, clever NFL defensive coaches may figure out a way to slow down his offensive somewhat, but I don't see that happening to a large extent. Kelly's freight train has left the station and he has a formula that will be sustainable in the NFL for several years. Will it translate to a Super Bowl victory? I don't know. What I do know is the Eagles will be must-watch TV because of Kelly's unique and wildly entertaining offense. And they will win lots of games especially in his first year before defenses have an off-season to figure out other ways to stop the juggernaut.
The world needs more creative thinkers and risk-takers such as Kelly. He staked his reputation and career on an offensive scheme that no one else had ever tried. He dared to be different, took the path less traveled, believed in his conviction, passion, and instincts. He could have been wrong and everybody would have said what a foolish man he was for thinking he could pull it off. Despite the risks, he went for it anyway. The old way of doing things didn't suit him. He is living his life the way he believes it should be and not allowing anyone to stop him. Don't we all long for such freedom, moxie, and success? Kelly is an idea guy, a maverick.
In the post-game press conference last night, Kelly said he tells his team that they will not approach being an NFL team like a business. They will tackle football as a game, have fun.
The world needs more people like Chip Kelly.