Chip Kelly built a reputation as a gambler at Oregon, succeeding by taking chances at times when other coaches would have played it safe. But that’s not the Chip Kelly we’re seeing in the NFL.
Most notably, Kelly has stopped going for it on fourth down. As a college coach, Kelly had a more aggressive approach on fourth downs, but on Sunday, when the Eagles had a fourth-and-6 at Denver’s 37-yard line while trailing 21-13, Kelly took a delay of game penalty and then punted. That would seem like a perfect time to go for it, but Kelly said he didn’t even think about going for it in that situation.
In the next breath, however, Kelly denied that deciding to punt — and deciding to attempt field goals at other points in the game — was a reflection of conservative play-calling.
“I didn’t consider it at all,” Kelly said. “I don’t think that’s conservative. I think at that point in time when we made those decisions, we were trying to get points.”
Although the Eagles went for it on fourth-and-1 and got a first down on their first drive of the season, in the opening Monday night at Washington, Kelly has gone for it on fourth down just once since that very first drive. It sure seems like Kelly is becoming a conservative coach.
More importantly, Kelly has become a losing coach. After losing three in a row, it may be time for Kelly to start taking more chances.