Kelly and the Reid Conundrum
While Chip Kelly has been assembling his staff (and hanging out at the Wing Bowl), there’s been a key piece still missing: defensive coordinator.
So, despite the bevy of “unofficial” assistants with undefined roles wandering around in Eagles green I have to ask myself one simple question. Does Chip Kelly have any clue what took place the last two years?
One of, if not THE fatal move for Reid took place when the Eagles hired Jim Washburn before finding a defensive coordinator. As a result, many options declined the opportunity and Reid was forced to convert Juan Castillo over to the defensive side of the ball. Castillo had not worked on the defensive side of the ball since 1989.
This year has a similar feel.
Chip Kelly, who as much NFL experience as my grandmother, has already assembled some defensive pieces to his staff—like Jerry Azzinaro of Oregon and Rick Minter of Kentucky—without hiring a leader. This could be problematic.
First, there are two names that have been commonly connected with the Eagles. They are Ed Donatell, the secondary coach for the 49ers, and Ted Monachino, who is the linebackers coach of the Baltimore Ravens. Neither of these guys have a relationship with Kelly at this point. Therefore, Kelly doesn’t know how these guys operate and the kind of people that they would mesh with.
In addition, when someone is brought over to be a new head coach or coordinator he often brings “his guys” along with him. Think of Andy Reid heading to Kansas City. He took guys like Doug Peterson, Tommy Brasher and even head trainer Rick Burkholder with him to the mid-west.
So, with some of Kelly’s guys in play, it seems likely that the candidates may be peeved by the restriction those hirings created and opt to stay put. Or, if they do willingly take the job, there could be chemistry problems and tension within the staff.
Just think of last season. Jim Washburn had essentially started a mutiny on the Eagles by the end of his tenure. Wasburn would often disregard his boss in Castillo, whom he famously referred to as “Juanita,” for the glory of the sack. This undermining was certainly part of what became an epic demonstration of weekly futility and the unraveling of Reid’s tenure. Eventually, Reid tried to bandage the wound by firing Washburn and cutting his sidekick Jason Babin. However, it was too little too late and the Reid era came to a close.
What gives me some relief from this worst-case scenario has to do with the Eagles’ odd silence. By not announcing these new assistants with any titles Kelly has given himself the luxury of flexibility. For example, Rick Minter has a history with linebackers and will likely be the linebackers coach. However, he’s been a college defensive coordinator since 1985 so it’s pretty safe to assume that he would be able to coach in other capacities if necessary. This may give Kelly enough wiggle room to nab his guy.
So while it’s hard to say anything definitive at this moment, everything should come together within the next week. All of the other teams with new coaches have worked out the majority of their staffs. Therefore, the Eagles don’t have anyone to compete with for their targets and all options will be available given the conclusion of the Super Bowl.
For now, we hope for the best. But if they can’t lock up anyone to be defensive coordinator by the end of the week it may just mean that Kelly has fallen victim to the Reid conundrum.