NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Tuesday, December 29, 2015, 8:53 PM
Three years ago, Chip Kelly was the NFL’s most sought-after coaching prospect, with a go-go offense and years of success at the University of Oregon.
And now, he’s out of a job.
On Tuesday, in a surprise move, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie fired his one-time golden boy, axing Kelly before a nightmarish 6-9 campaign had even come to a close. Pat Shurmur, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, will serve as interim head coach when Philly faces the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
“We appreciate all the contributions that Chip Kelly made,” Lurie said in a statement, “and wish him every success going forward.”
The move came one day after Kelly had claimed that the Eagles weren’t a “bad football team,” even though they’re in the midst of their worst season under Kelly, and even though their offense is no longer among the league’s best, ranked a middling 16th in points per game (22.8) behind such powerhouses as Washington, Buffalo and Jacksonville.
“I don’t think we’re a bad football team,” Kelly said Monday. “I don’t think we need to revamp this entire group of guys.”
Except a revamp is exactly what’s going to happen. Kelly’s ouster came a week in advance of the NFL’s usual Black Monday coaching carousel, but that speaks to the tumult he’s caused in Philly. VP of player personnel Ed Marynowitz, handpicked by Kelly to handle scouting matters, was also fired in a move that showcased Lurie’s frustration with Kelly’s entire regime. Tom Donahoe, a senior ‘football advisor since 2012 and the former GM of the Buffalo Bills, will now function as senior director of player personnel.
And it’s largely because the power-hungry Kelly watched things completely fall apart in his first season with the total control he’d desperately craved. After leading the Eagles to back-to-back 10-win seasons, Kelly watched things completely fall apart in 2015, saddled by his own bad personnel decisions. The Eagles have lost five of their last seven games, and, much like the Giants, they failed to take control of a watered-down NFC East.
It’s all taken place with Kelly calling the shots. After two seasons functioning as solely the Eagles coach and watching former GM Howie Roseman make all personnel decisions, Kelly spent much of this offseason fighting to control his own roster, and Lurie eventually restructured his entire organization to make Kelly happy.
Roseman was shifted into a reduced role, giving Kelly control of the 90-man roster. Marynowitz was elevated to VP of player personnel.
And what did GM Kelly do? He traded serviceable QB Nick Foles and a package of picks that includes next year’s second-rounder for the Rams’ Sam Bradford, who’s thrown just 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season. He signed Seahawks corner Byron Maxwell to a six-year deal that included $ 22 million in guaranteed money, and Maxwell has been one of football’s worst covermen.
Kelly let popular and consistent receiver Jeremy Maclin leave in free agency; Maclin leads the Chiefs (coached by former Eagles head man Andy Reid) with 1,034 receiving yards and seven TDs while not a single Eagle has 1,000 receiving yards.
And no position exemplified Kelly clueless decision-making more than running back, where he moved veteran LeSean McCoy to the Bills in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso, who has just 34 tackles this season. Kelly then signed Ryan Mathews and ex-Cowboy DeMarco Murray. Murray is averaging 3.5 yards per carry and Mathews has 528 rushing yards. McCoy, meanwhile, has his sixth straight season with 1,000 total yards despite battling through injuries.
It’s no wonder the Eagles offense, once feared because of the extremely high tempo and pace that Kelly installed, has floundered. And somehow, a deluded Kelly didn’t think any of this was his fault.
“I’m not the general manager,” he said one day before being fired. I don’t run our personnel department. I’m not in charge of scouting, I didn’t tell our scouts where they’re going.”
Now, he’s not in charge of anything.