I don’t think a long(ish) post is necessary for this one. By now, you have heard that Oregon’s star crossed Chip Kelly has had a characteristic change of heart and will become the new Philadelphia Eagles’ Head Coach.
Or if you’re into things that make a lot of f-ing sense, you’ll wonder how convenient the timing of Oregon’s looming recruiting violations had on Kelly’s decision.
Or if you’re into eternal Browns’ suffering, you may be asking why Kelly didn’t realize he should have pulled a Pete Carroll two weeks ago.
Anyway, what’s done is done.
For some enlightened analysis, I can only offer the following:
1. No matter what, the Browns’ new front office and ownership needs to keep a really clean ship over the next few days and not let any former Kelly details spill out. Both in terms of overall team image and support for Rob Chudzinski, these new(er) Browns have to both stand up for their chosen coach AND reaffirm their company line that Kelly’s “heart wasn’t in the NFL.”
2. Regarding Kelly’s aforementioned “heart”, I really have to wonder if Kelly is even completely sold on becoming an NFL Head Coach – or at least taking over the Eagles. Again, Oregon’s tenuous recruiting situation had to have colored Kelly’s decision. And since we know (along with Tampa Bay Bucs fans) how indecisive Kelly is, it’s worth questioning just how long Kelly will remain with the Eagles.
3. And I’m not suggesting this as a bitter Browns’ fan, but as a cold realist: Based on his history of interviewing with NFL teams, can you really see Kelly sticking with one team for more than a season or two?
5. One idea that has gone unmentioned in the recent mini-trend of college coaches taking over NFL teams is the propensity of college coaches to constantly switch jobs and grab more money. Don’t think for a second that Kelly won’t bolt back to college if he struggles – or move to another NFL team if he doesn’t. You think free agent athletes are bad? Try a well-paid college coach.
6. This brings us back to a boring, but ultimately more grounded footing in Cleveland. Had Kelly signed with the Browns, these exact same concerns would have been present. I know it’s not trendy, but Kelly was anything other than permanent – which is something the least stable franchise in the league needs right now.
7. Naturally, the talk will shift to inferiority over the coming days – a literal “what’s Philadelphia have that we don’t?” Not a whole lot – other than the remains of a franchise that needed to replace Andy Reid. It’s an understatement to say that Reid left a huge void (literally) in that he influenced nearly every aspect of the Eagles’ organization. Basically, the Eagles weren’t just replacing a Head Coach, but finding a person who could assume multiple roles.
8. Conversely, the Browns – following an older Eagles’ model – made the early decision to not structure their organization in the same way. Even though Banner has suggested that Chudzinski will have his say in personnel matters, the Browns’ system is far different than the one Kelly will assume in Philadelphia.
9. And if you’re following this logic, it’s going to be far more difficult for the Eagles to replace Kelly in a year or two than it will be for the Browns to replace Chudzinski.
10. Or maybe that’s just all one big, clumsy rationalization.
And so it goes.
About Mike Lombardi….
While the Bill Simmons’ of the world will hail the hiring of Mike Lombardi as some genius move, the rest of us only know Lombardi as a really good self-promoter, shill, charlatan and long-time unofficial media liason for Bill Belichick – the kind of guy who is ultra-connected in NFL league circles yet somehow never could land a real NFL GM job.
Of course, in the NFL – who you know often trumps what you know. And in Lombardi’s case, he knows Joe Banner and for the last several years, has made incredibly easy blanket statements on the various personnel errors committed by an assortment of NFL teams. Naturally, it’s much easier to cast blame from high above than it is to actually be the person making the decisions that improve NFL teams.
Yet, the kicker here is that even though Lombardi has been hired, he still will not function as an NFL GM. To compare Lombardi’s role with that of Tom Heckert’s is like comparing Pat Shurmur’s creativity to Chip Kelly’s. Lombardi is entering the ideal situation for someone who is keen on extending his image as a top NFL thinker – especially considering that the current Browns’ personnel decisions will flow through Banner.
In other words, to call Lombardi a GM is a gross misstatement.
However, if the Browns do improve – which based on the last few years of drafts and a modest upgrade in coaching will occur – look for Lombardi to claim credit. If not, well – he was never really GM to begin with.
Anyway – and so it goes in Cleveland. Upon exiting a corrupt era of Browns’ football where Mike Holmgren’s agent basically corrupted the entire organization, a major hire of the new regime is based on too convenient connections.
Yet, I still say that even though Lombardi is a fraud – and even though Heckert was efficient – I will stay take Haslam, Banner and the charlatan over Randy Lerner’s “pathetic irrelevance.” Again, Lombardi’s impact will be greatly overstated today, but will reveal itself to be minimal over the course of the next couple years.
Finally – as for the Terry Pluto’s of the world who suggest that Haslam and Banner’s decisions need to be more in tune with the fan’s desires, I can only offer Dawg Pound Mike and a disoriented Bernie Kosar as offensive coordinator. Or in other words – what has already occurred hasn’t worked, which has necessitated someone like Banner making decisions like the one he made today.
We can’t have it both ways – unlike Mike Lombardi.