When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers searched for a new coach this year, they looked to the college ranks, where they first offered the job to Oregon coach Chip Kelly, and then, after Kelly declined, hired Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. Schiano is a conventional choice, in the sense that he ran a typical pro-style system at Rutgers and won’t have to adjust much for the NFL. But how would Kelly, who runs anything but a typical pro-style system, make his offense work in the NFL?
Kelly says he’d make it work just fine.
In an interview with KJR in Seattle, Kelly said that good coaches adapt their systems to the type of players they have, and that he could adapt his own spread offense to work in the NFL.
“No one can be married to one thing, because it’s all personnel-driven,” Kelly said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “It’s like the Denver Broncos. What John Fox did in Denver with Tim Tebow was outstanding because he looked at what he had for a player and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to run this.’ Now, all of a sudden, they have Peyton Manning and they’re not going to run the same plays. . . . It’s a personnel-driven game and I think the coaches that are the best at it can adapt their systems to the NFL.”
The Buccaneers’ personnel would seem to suit Kelly’s offense reasonably well, as Josh Freeman is a mobile quarterback who can make plays with his feet as well as his arm, and LeGarratte Blount played in Kelly’s offense at Oregon. So from an Xs and Os perspective, Kelly might not have needed to make radical changes. That may be one reason that coaching the Bucs is something Kelly says he very seriously considered.
“I was close,” Kelly said. “When I got the call, I literally said I would like to take the interview because I thought it would be a good life experience for me. Then I ended up getting offered the job.”
From a game strategy perspective, Kelly might have been the most unconventional coaching choice in NFL history: Kelly does things his own way on game day, ranging from the way he goes for two far more often than other coaches to the way he calls trick plays and deep passes in situations when other coaches play it safe. At the college level, Kelly runs a football team unlike anything the NFL has ever seen.
It’s too bad Kelly didn’t accept the Bucs’ offer. It would have been fun to see what a Kelly-coached NFL team looks like.