The Next Bill Walsh?

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Crazy is the most politically correct term that has been associated with the Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly lately. While some of his methods may seem unconventional he apparently has a plan and he’s going to follow it regardless of public opinion.

Chip Kelly

Kelly and the Eagles have made some head-scratching moves this off-season and many feel that they’re not done yet. When the dust settles the Eagles will be closer to the team that Kelly wants even if that means trading an All-Pro player like LeSean McCoy. Many feel that is a team built in his likeness. One that is tough, smart, dedicated, big and fast. Pretty much everything you want in a prototypical NFL team.

Many would argue that the players Kelly has moved were the ones that he was looking for. From McCoy to quarterback Nick Foles to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Kelly felt otherwise and now he is going to field a team with several players coming off of major injuries.

It doesn’t stop with player personnel moves either. Kelly is a big believer in the sports science. So much so that he hired Shaun Huls as the NFL’s first ever ‘sport science coordinator’. While some criticized Kelly’s uptempo offense when he arrived in the NFL, Kelly noted that tempo is just another tool in the toolbox. His practices methods have even come under fire like having players run hard the day before a game.

How does this related to Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh?

Look at the similarities.They both brought a new mindset, methods and style to the NFL. Both installed innovative offenses and try to find the best players to fit that scheme. Both brought a new way of thinking to how you coach a team, run practices and both pulled from industries outside of football.

Walsh’s West Coast offense was seen as heresy in a league that, at the time, was filled with teams that believed in ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’.  Walsh’s offense was all about balance and timing. Some called it finesse but that finesse ended up winning four Super Bowls in the 80’s.

Walsh’s techniques are visible at every level of football from play calling to how you run offseason workouts. Kelly is making inroads in sports science, practice techniques and an innovative offensive style that gives the quarterback multiple run/pass options on every play.

Watch the first 3:30 of the video and you’ll get look inside Kelly’s approach.

Yes we know that we are comparing one of the greatest minds in the history of football with someone who has yet to make it to a Super Bowl but the markings are there. Yes we are making some big assumptions here like professional players embracing Kelly’s tactics and ideas. But people we’re saying similar things 35 years ago about Walsh.

A coach once said that ‘change is inevitable, growth is optional’. No one likes change, especially well paid NFL players. But change is here and so far it has been successful. The measure of success is of course a Super Bowl win which is something that the Eagles have never captured. Kelly has to win one. It’s the ultimate dropping of the mic in football.  It silences every critic. When know this because Walsh did it, three times.

Further Reading

Bill Walsh – HBR Article (1993)

Chip Kelly – Philly.com (2014) 

Chip Kelly – Grantland (2014) 

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One thought on “The Next Bill Walsh?

  1. Pingback: More Mouse Davis Than Bill Walsh | Sideline Signals

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