While most head coaches don't get fired with a 26-21 record and a pair of 10-win seasons, most coaches don't have the hubris of Chip Kelly. And that is probably the main reason that the Philadelphia Eagles canned Kelly on Tuesday, a week ahead of "Black Monday."
The Eagles will play their season finale at the New York Giants on Sunday with Pat Shurmur as the interim head coach. And once that is done, owner Jeffrey Lurie will begin his search for a new head coach, as well as a new general manager and director of player personnel, and they will start over again.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), whoever it is will have to do much of the work with the cards that Kelly has dealt them.
The Eagles are still a team loaded with players who were once highly regarded and are now highly paid. After Kelly was given more control of the roster this year, Philadelphia traded for Kiko Alonso and Sam Bradford, signed DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell to huge contracts, and drafted Nelson Agholor in the first round to replace Jeremy Maclin (who could have been retained if the team didn't give so much money to Murray).
Bradford is set to hit free agency, and because the Eagles traded Nick Foles (and a second-round pick in 2016) to get him, they are left with Mark Sanchez as the top quarterback signed for next season.
It's because of these reasons that it seemed Kelly was untouchable. The organization gave him as much power as any head coach in the NFL outside of Bill Belichick and spent tens of millions on free-agent contracts that it can't get out of anytime soon, all to fit a system that was perfectly designed for only one coach in the league: Chip Kelly.
What sort of coach will be able to take over that roster and turn it back into a contender? And perhaps more importantly, does a general manager candidate even exist that could fix this roster to fit anyone else?
Let's also keep in mind that the city itself hasn't exactly had much luck with manager and coach-types lately.
Longest tenured current Philadelphia coaches Brett Brown 3rd season Jim Curtin 1.5 seasons Pete Mackanin 88 games Dave Hakstol 35 games- Marc Narducci (@sjnard) December 30, 2015
Now, to the grim facts: The Eagles are 28th in scoring defense, 30th in total defense, 31st in passing touchdowns allowed, 29th in rushing yards allowed, 22nd in yards per carry and 29th in turnovers. Even playing in a bad division, they have turned the ball over in 14 of 15 games, and the offense is 27th in DVOA. But perhaps what stings most for Lurie, the guy spending all the money, is that the team could be that bad at running the ball after giving Murray a $40 million contract, or that they could have a horrible pass defense after giving Maxwell a deal worth $63 million.
Those two players alone -- as designed by Kelly -- were given $43 million guaranteed. And at least one didn't seem to happy with his coach.
There is also the matter of the mistakes made before this season. The Eagles' drafts over the past three years have not yet produced a Pro Bowl player and include underwhelming performances from tackle Lane Johnson (fourth overall in 2013) and Marcus Smith (26th overall in 2014), who is one of the last men on the roster and likely close to being released. Agholor, who was picked 20th overall this year, has 260 yards and one touchdown.
Philadelphia added Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz in the draft under Kelly, but little else. And it's the controversial moves -- like drafting Matt Barkley or signing Tim Tebow -- that have only shined a brighter light on Kelly's decisions as a whole. The roster now looks like a complete mess.
So with the Eagles having a terrible year, the previous two seasons, including a playoff appearance in 2013, do not hold relevance anymore. Especially when this is the year that we really called the Eagles "Chip Kelly's team." Because that's what he demanded.
And that's why he's a free-agent coach today.