Heed the Warnings: Browns Must Stay Away from Pursuing Chip Kelly a Second Time

The Cleveland Browns were in hot pursuit of Chip Kelly to serve as head coach in 2013, but Kelly ultimately chose the Philadelphia Eagles. Here's why the Browns shouldn't try for him again now that he's been given his walking papers in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Eagles fired head coach—and head of personnel—Chip Kelly on Thursday, just days before the Eagles play their final game of the season. And it didn’t take long for Kelly’s name to be linked to the Cleveland Browns. After all, the Browns were so heavily linked to Kelly in their 2013 coaching search that NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said that a deal between the Browns and Kelly was imminent until it ultimately collapsed.

With Mike Pettine’s Browns currently a three-win team and general manager Ray Farmer very much on the hot seat, it’s understandable why links between Kelly and the Browns are being made anew. But the last three seasons in Philadelphia paint a very clear picture of why the Browns and owner Jimmy Haslam should not retest those waters. Kelly is an organizational cancer, a coach much better suited for the all-control-belongs-to-me world of college football than the more collaborative world of adults working (or trying to) together of the NFL.

One only has to look at Eagles owner Jeff Lurie’s words when addressing the media about Kelly’s firing on Wednesday for why the Browns would be a bad fit. He created a toxic culture in the locker room, freezing out stars like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Evan Mathis, his coveted free-agent DeMarco Murray and others who did not agree with his tactics despite their high on-field value. He created a toxic culture in the front office, as well, especially once he demanded and earned full personnel control in 2015. Lurie has since learned that collaboration collaboration between front office and coaching—and a designated line between coach and GM—is the far more preferable approach.

Kelly lacked the “emotional intelligence,” required to communicate openly and effectively with professional players, said Lurie. And Lurie clearly promised to hold Kelly accountable for everything he did as de facto GM should it not work out—and because it didn’t, after weeks of deliberation, Lurie pulled the trigger. Kelly had to go. Kelly had to go.

If Pettine and Farmer are both out, Kelly’s name is an attractive one because there would be voids at both head coach and GM that could lure him in. He could have that control he was so adamant to have in Philadelphia, and it could be given him by an owner who hotly pursued him not long ago and is desperate for change. But while change would certainly come with Kelly on board, that change isn’t necessarily for the better.

Yes, Kelly’s Eagles went 10-6 for the first two of his three seasons there. But, when given final say over the roster, it currently sits at 6-9. That’s not coincidental. As ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia points out in his must-read column on the why’s of the Kelly firing, Kelly was obsessed with prototypes. There was no flexibility about what he considered the ideal player at every position, ultimately gutting the roster of proven playmakers simply because they didn’t have the right size or arm length.

This would result in a bloodletting in Cleveland’s locker room, with new players brought in thanks to the glut of salary cap space the Browns are capable of spending. This could mean a whole new team built in Kelly’s image, with key veterans and starters easily being among the casualties. Kelly is also obsessed with perfect execution, which is linked to why he doesn’t see his players as people. This simply doesn’t work in the NFL. The Browns don’t need that kind of single-minded obsessiveness to overtake the coaching and personnel departments when it’s proven to not be a successful approach in the NFL. Kelly wants to control grown men as though they are college kids who, for better or for worse (and in many, many ways worse) have no option of control over their playing lives.

The Browns don’t need to bring in a coach (or a coach-GM-in-one) who is better at dividing than uniting. They don’t need to cede so much control to someone so unsuccessful when he’s held it. Kelly proved to be more trouble than he was worth in Philadelphia and the Browns ultimately looked to have dodged a bullet by not being able to snag his services nearly three years ago. They should keep a very safe distance from him now, regardless of the decisions made about Pettine’s and Farmer’s job security in the coming days and weeks. Lurie’s words on Wednesday were not just an explanation of his decision but also a warning to any would-be suitors for Kelly’s services moving forward.

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Kelly lacked the “emotional intelligence,” required to communicate openly and effectively with professional players, said Lurie. And Lurie clearly promised to hold Kelly accountable for everything he did as de facto GM should it not work out—and because it didn’t, after weeks of deliberation, Lurie pulled the trigger. Kelly had to go. Kelly had to go.

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If Pettine and Farmer are both out, Kelly’s name is an attractive one because there would be voids at both head coach and GM that could lure him in. He could have that control he was so adamant to have in Philadelphia, and it could be given him by an owner who hotly pursued him not long ago and is desperate for change. But while change would certainly come with Kelly on board, that change isn’t necessarily for the better.

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Yes, Kelly’s Eagles went 10-6 for the first two of his three seasons there. But, when given final say over the roster, it currently sits at 6-9. That’s not coincidental. As ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia points out in his must-read column on the why’s of the Kelly firing, Kelly was obsessed with prototypes. There was no flexibility about what he considered the ideal player at every position, ultimately gutting the roster of proven playmakers simply because they didn’t have the right size or arm length.

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This would result in a bloodletting in Cleveland’s locker room, with new players brought in thanks to the glut of salary cap space the Browns are capable of spending. This could mean a whole new team built in Kelly’s image, with key veterans and starters easily being among the casualties. Kelly is also obsessed with perfect execution, which is linked to why he doesn’t see his players as people. This simply doesn’t work in the NFL. The Browns don’t need that kind of single-minded obsessiveness to overtake the coaching and personnel departments when it’s proven to not be a successful approach in the NFL. Kelly wants to control grown men as though they are college kids who, for better or for worse (and in many, many ways worse) have no option of control over their playing lives.

\n

The Browns don’t need to bring in a coach (or a coach-GM-in-one) who is better at dividing than uniting. They don’t need to cede so much control to someone so unsuccessful when he’s held it. Kelly proved to be more trouble than he was worth in Philadelphia and the Browns ultimately looked to have dodged a bullet by not being able to snag his services nearly three years ago. They should keep a very safe distance from him now, regardless of the decisions made about Pettine’s and Farmer’s job security in the coming days and weeks. Lurie’s words on Wednesday were not just an explanation of his decision but also a warning to any would-be suitors for Kelly’s services moving forward.

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The Philadelphia Eagles fired head coach—and head of personnel—Chip Kelly on Thursday, just days before the Eagles play their final game of the season. And it didn’t take long for Kelly’s name to be linked to the Cleveland Browns. After all, the Browns were so heavily linked to Kelly in their 2013 coaching search that NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said that a deal between the Browns and Kelly was imminent until it ultimately collapsed.

With Mike Pettine’s Browns currently a three-win team and general manager Ray Farmer very much on the hot seat, it’s understandable why links between Kelly and the Browns are being made anew. But the last three seasons in Philadelphia paint a very clear picture of why the Browns and owner Jimmy Haslam should not retest those waters. Kelly is an organizational cancer, a coach much better suited for the all-control-belongs-to-me world of college football than the more collaborative world of adults working (or trying to) together of the NFL.

One only has to look at Eagles owner Jeff Lurie’s words when addressing the media about Kelly’s firing on Wednesday for why the Browns would be a bad fit. He created a toxic culture in the locker room, freezing out stars like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Evan Mathis, his coveted free-agent DeMarco Murray and others who did not agree with his tactics despite their high on-field value. He created a toxic culture in the front office, as well, especially once he demanded and earned full personnel control in 2015. Lurie has since learned that collaboration collaboration between front office and coaching—and a designated line between coach and GM—is the far more preferable approach.

Kelly lacked the “emotional intelligence,” required to communicate openly and effectively with professional players, said Lurie. And Lurie clearly promised to hold Kelly accountable for everything he did as de facto GM should it not work out—and because it didn’t, after weeks of deliberation, Lurie pulled the trigger. Kelly had to go. Kelly had to go.

If Pettine and Farmer are both out, Kelly’s name is an attractive one because there would be voids at both head coach and GM that could lure him in. He could have that control he was so adamant to have in Philadelphia, and it could be given him by an owner who hotly pursued him not long ago and is desperate for change. But while change would certainly come with Kelly on board, that change isn’t necessarily for the better.

Yes, Kelly’s Eagles went 10-6 for the first two of his three seasons there. But, when given final say over the roster, it currently sits at 6-9. That’s not coincidental. As ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia points out in his must-read column on the why’s of the Kelly firing, Kelly was obsessed with prototypes. There was no flexibility about what he considered the ideal player at every position, ultimately gutting the roster of proven playmakers simply because they didn’t have the right size or arm length.

This would result in a bloodletting in Cleveland’s locker room, with new players brought in thanks to the glut of salary cap space the Browns are capable of spending. This could mean a whole new team built in Kelly’s image, with key veterans and starters easily being among the casualties. Kelly is also obsessed with perfect execution, which is linked to why he doesn’t see his players as people. This simply doesn’t work in the NFL. The Browns don’t need that kind of single-minded obsessiveness to overtake the coaching and personnel departments when it’s proven to not be a successful approach in the NFL. Kelly wants to control grown men as though they are college kids who, for better or for worse (and in many, many ways worse) have no option of control over their playing lives.

The Browns don’t need to bring in a coach (or a coach-GM-in-one) who is better at dividing than uniting. They don’t need to cede so much control to someone so unsuccessful when he’s held it. Kelly proved to be more trouble than he was worth in Philadelphia and the Browns ultimately looked to have dodged a bullet by not being able to snag his services nearly three years ago. They should keep a very safe distance from him now, regardless of the decisions made about Pettine’s and Farmer’s job security in the coming days and weeks. Lurie’s words on Wednesday were not just an explanation of his decision but also a warning to any would-be suitors for Kelly’s services moving forward.

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