Content - for the time being - to wait and see what Chip Kelly does

Eagles' coach Chip Kelly has a clean slate, for now.
Eagles' coach Chip Kelly has a clean slate, for now.
Posted: February 08, 2013

IT WILL NOT last, of course. Honeymoons never do. Reality will intrude at a certain point, and probably sooner rather than later, because that is what reality always does. In no time at all, Chip Kelly will begin presenting us with his decisions as if they were meticulously decorated Christmas trees, and all we will do is start looking for the broken branches.

But that is for later. In the here and now, as we wait for Kelly's most important early decisions, it is with a sense of anticipation, not dread.

For the first time in a very long time around here, people are willing to wait and see.

A defensive coordinator? A 3-4 alignment? A 4-3? People are open-minded and eager to hear Kelly's explanation.

Michael Vick? Nick Foles? Dennis Dixon? Someone else? Kelly's offensive system has been so cutting edge, at least in college, and his reputation as a football thinker is so good, that whomever he anoints as his quarterback will enjoy the benefit of the doubt that accompanies that anointing.

At the end, Andy Reid never received that benefit of the doubt. Some of it, he squandered; Juan Castillo, anyone? Much of it, though, just dissipated over time. It is why so few professional coaches have a prayer of lasting for 14 seasons, as Reid did. Because the truth is, people just get sick of them.

Going back in time, Reid's benefit of the doubt lasted about a month into the 1999 season, if memory serves. That is about how long it took for people to start howling about Doug Pederson as the starting quarterback and demanding that Donovan McNabb be made the starter. McNabb got the job in the 10th game of the season, and the weeks immediately before were a reasonably nonstop bitchfest about when Pederson was going to be benched.

The first year, they held Reid's Monday news conferences in a restaurant area of Veterans Stadium. You could barely hear him sometimes because of a compressor of some kind that ran intermittently. And as week followed week, the questions about Pederson and McNabb from people such as the late Johnny Sample, then a radio host, became sharper, and the reactions to Reid's non-answers became more exasperated, and the fact that both the questions and answers had to be shouted over the noise of the compressor just added to the tension.

As the interrogation grew more persistent, Reid's explanations grew more opaque, to say the least. It was the first inkling we all had that maybe the new coach, when it came to news conferences, wasn't very fast on his feet.

After that, though, Reid enjoyed years of relative peace. The Eagles made the playoffs in his second season as coach, and built and built. Things changed after the loss to Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game in January of 2003, and they really changed after the loss in Super Bowl XXXIX. For the last 8 years, pretty much nothing Reid did was accepted without question - and at the very end, pretty much nothing Reid did was accepted at all.

The whole thing had become exhausting for the fan base. People had settled into their positions, and those positions had hardened into concrete over the years as Reid stayed and stayed and stayed. The arguments were recited by rote and staged every season, like Civil War re-enactments of the modern day.

By the end, the run-too-much people were yelling past the poor-clock-management people, who were yelling past the wide-freaking-nine people, who were yelling past the Vick-is-killing-us people. It was just this mind-numbing cacophony, with Reid standing in the middle and repeating on an endless loop that it was all his responsibility.

What we have today is so different. Kelly remains a man of mystery, which is still kind of interesting rather than annoying. The defensive coordinator and the scheme in 2013 remain a complete unknown. The quarterback thing could still go several different ways, and the amount of Kelly's fast-paced, read-option offense that he can implement in his first season is anybody's guess.

And you know what? That's OK. For the first time in forever, wait-and-see is a viable position to hold with this team.

At least for today, it is.


Email: hofmanr@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @theidlerich

Columns: philly.com/

RichHofmann

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