Chip Kelly on adapting an offense

January, 2, 2013
1/02/13
3:38
PM ET
Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News is in Arizona this week because that's where Oregon is paying in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Thursday night and you may have heard something about Oregon coach Chip Kelly being a possibility to succeed the fired Andy Reid as the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach. There's been a lot of speculation about the manner in which the offense Kelly uses at Oregon might translate into the NFL should he get a coaching job in Philadelphia or anywhere else, and Kelly addressed this in a news conference, per Les:
"Anything you do has to be personnel-driven," Kelly said, when asked a question about offensive adaptations flowing out of the college game into the NFL. "You've gotta be able to adapt to the personnel that you have. There's a lot of great offenses out there, but does it fit with the personnel you have? I think the key is being sure what you're doing is giving your players the chance to be successful."

This is the key thing to remember when making conclusions about the way a coach like Kelly might operate if he got an NFL job. People are quick to assume that the style a coach employs at the college level would be the same style he'd try to implement in the pros. And it's possible that some coaches are like that. But I submit to you that the successful ones are not, and that if Kelly has appeal to the Eagles or any other NFL teams, it's in part because he's viewed as an offensive innovator -- the kind of guy who would look at his NFL roster and design an offense based on the abilities of the players at his disposal. If he's not that kind of guy, then they shouldn't hire him, because there's no way to be sure he'll always have the sort of personnel he needs to run the offense he wants to run.

I think Kelly's probably a smart enough coach to know he's not going to succeed in the NFL simply by transplanting his Oregon offense there. And if he did come to Philadelphia and decide he liked Nick Foles, I think you could be fairly confident he'd find a way to put Foles in a position to succeed, even if it didn't look like what Kelly is doing right now at Oregon.

I'm also not sure the extent to which this matters, since I don't know where Kelly ranks on the Eagles' list of preferred candidates. They're in Atlanta tomorrow to interview Falcons assistants (though not offensive coordinator Dirk Kotter, who just signed an extension and took himself out of the running for head coach jobs), and they're planning to interview Denver offensive coordiator Mike McCoy as well. And the names of college coaches Doug Marrone of Syracuse and Bill O'Brien of Penn State have surfaced as well. They can't interview Kelly, even if they want to, until after Thursday night's bowl game.

The Eagles are at the beginning of a long, complicated process, and it's not worth getting overly fired up over any particular name at this point. But if the coach ends up being Kelly or some other college coach, you'd be making a mistake to assume you knew what he was going to run once he got to the pros.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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