Kelly is finding out quickly the NFL is very different than college


We’ve yet to adopt the whole “different is better” mindset when it comes to the arrival of coach Chip Kelly to the NFL.  To assume that Kelly’s unconventional methods instantly will be successful at a level of pro football where he has zero experience is to subtly disregard the work, the ideas, and the accomplishments of the men who have climbed to the top of the profession doing things in a more traditional way.

Regardless, Kelly has an approach that could end up being successful in its own way.  But he’s learning quickly that the men he’s working with are very different, too.

College coaches have far more control over their locker room and their program.  College players have no union (although they need one), and it’s extremely difficult for a player who wants to go play somewhere else to leave if the coach doesn’t agree.  Likewise, the media coverage and scrutiny at the college level is a lot less intense and probing.

While Kelly can shrug and say “football is football,” Kelly now has a team full of grown men who will speak their minds both internally and externally on matters about which they feel strongly.  NFL players don’t fear their coach (especially since many of them make more money than their coach), and NFL players know that they have options — even if they have contracts.

They also know that the coach of an NFL team isn’t the unofficial emperor of the land where the team is headquartered.  At some schools, the practical pecking order is:  (1) coach; (2) university president; and (3) athletic director.  For every NFL team, the coach answers to the owner.  In many cities, the coach also answers to the General Manager and possibly to others in the organization, like the team president.

So when it comes to the Riley Cooper situation, Kelly can’t simply address the team once and impose his will on them.  At Oregon, that may have worked.  With the Eagles, it won’t.

During a lengthy (but appropriate) grilling from the Philly media on Friday, Kelly acknowledged that this is new territory for him.

“We had issues,” Kelly said of his time at Oregon.   “I don’t know.   Not of this ‑‑ I don’t think anything’s been like this, you know what I mean?  I think because of what he said and in the locker room itself, I think that’s a little bit different.”

It’s a lot different.  And even though Kelly claims “there’s never been any question of cutting Riley [Cooper],” it’s obvious that sliding Cooper out of the locker room for now gives the team a chance to assess whether it can proceed without him.  If the Eagles are satisfied with the performance of the other receivers, the question of cutting Cooper will emerge, even if it truly hasn’t already.

Though the immediate headline from Kelly’s Friday remarks was that Cooper won’t be cut, closer inspection of Kelly’s words shows that he has given himself an out, if Cooper ends up off the team.

“[W]e’re way ahead of ourselves in terms of roster spots,” Kelly said, cutting off an “if he’s cut” question.  “Again, there hasn’t been one question about a roster spot.  This isn’t a roster spot issue for us right now.”

It isn’t a roster spot issue “right now.”  But in four weeks or less, it will be.

Until then and thereafter, it will continue to be an issue unlike anything Kelly ever encountered in college.  Which makes it necessarily harder for him to import his style and approach to a football league that is far more different for him than his methods are to it.

28 responses to “Kelly is finding out quickly the NFL is very different than college

  1. Such bias against Kelly and the whole organization from PFT. Remember when Lurie was the laughing stock of the NFL and “no one wanted the job?” They’ve not even played a snap, yet we keep getting these stories about how different the NFL is, “we told you so” and the like.

  2. “Sliding” Cooper out of the lockerroom has nothing to do with the team and everything to do with the media. If you guys would stop trying to crucify him the Eagles could get on with practice. Don’t forget they are looking up at the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins.

  3. I hate to say it, but the Eagles are crazy if they don’t cut Cooper. I don’t like cutting people for what they say when they’re drunk in the off-season, but Cooper will never do enough on the field to offset the negative way many players will feel about the organization if he stays.

  4. I imagine if they were to just cut Cooper for what he said at a Kenny Chesney concert, Cooper would have grounds for suing the Eagles and/or the NFL. So the situation is a bit more complicated than “we will cut you because we think you are a racist.” Kelly, unlike many of the liberal media, likely realizes that fact.

  5. Another anti Kelly post. Yet he keeps saying and doing the right things. 8-8 this year and next year 10-6 playoffs. Let the man coach a game before everyone talks about how his system won’t work, he is not ready and this is not college.

  6. So run all the illegal businesses and kill all the animals you want, just don’t say the wrong word where you can be caught on video. Okay then.

  7. I don’t have much respect for the whole University of Nike program and Kelly’s obvious pushing of the envelope (like lots of semipro college program coaches).

    But he’s not a stupid guy. And you can’t tell me NFL coaches are not in control when the number of lucrative roster spots is limited and they cut established players to force salary reductions. Have the pft polemics about Harbaugh cutting Pollard for being outspoken already been forgotten? Doesn’t mean he can force Riley onto a resistant locker room, but I would bet he can massage the situation a lot more than is suggested here.

  8. The reason they can use to cut him?
    Simple: “Conduct detrimental to the team”

    It’s a catch-all really, it can be used whenever they feel that your attitude is or your behavior is such that it hurts the team chemistry.
    {Usually used on nonproductive loudmouths, but can be used on majority of the Ravens’ Super Bowl defense}

  9. I agree wit you dallascowboysdishingthereal. He won’t be cut right away. But when it is time to cut down to 65 in 3 weeks, he will be one of those cuts. At that point he will have no grounds for a lawsuit.

  10. In fairness to Chip Kelly, how many NFL coaches have to deal with this? It doesn’t become a college or NFL type issue because had the player been at Oregon he would have been stuck with the same situation of deciding whether to release him from the team, suspend him, or be removed from team activities.

    It’s a culturally sensitive issue that must be handled appropriately. In all likelihood Cooper will either succeed in Philly or eventually be cut and be given a chance on another team because of his skills. He likely won’t make many friends, but as long as he works hard and does his job no one will complain.

  11. Finding out in August after being hired in Winter is quick?

    Finding out one week later is quick.

    What was likely not so quick to know was that the Eagles may have one of the five worst front offices in football.

  12. The only college coaches who survive the move are the ones that learn real fast, you treat pro players as pro’s and don’t talk to them like kids. They aren’t kids.

    If they respect you and your plans you have a chance to survive. If not, your done.

  13. The mere thought that this is a moral or talent-of-the-player issue for ANY team in the NFL is ludicrous! It is clearly obvious that the Eagles CAN’T function as a congruent unit while Cooper remains on the team. It is difficult enough to win with EVERYONE rowing together in the same direction. He is and will be a distraction and an ONGOING impediment and barrier to WINNING, the bottom line in the NFL. He is obviously expendable and will be gone, as surely as the sun rises in the east.

  14. Spoken like a true football lifer, nice job Mi…

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t even finish that sentence. You’re no more an aficionado on NFL football locker rooms than Kelly, who happens to actually be in one at the moment. I’m no Eagles fan, but let’s at least wait til Week 12 or something to pass judgement.

  15. I’m so tired of reading will Kelly do this or do that. To paraphrase, the man hasn’t even tooted his whistle in an NFL game yet.

  16. Though I’m against punishing him or anyone for saying something stupid and I believe that as bad as it is free speech must be protected at all costs the Eagles may have to cut him. If the players can’t forgive him and move on and it causes problems in the locker room they’ll have to let him go. Then you can bet he will be done in NFL cause players who don’t know him won’t want him around. I believe he said something so disgusting that he needed to apologize, I also believe Eagles can’t punish him for his stupid words, they are protected and I also believe the players have the right to never forgive him even though I believe in forgiveness like when Vick came back into the league. It’s not for me or anyone else to dictate what the eagles players should feel. That more then anything will and should determine his fate.

  17. This entire store does reek of double standard. Of course what Riley Cooper said was reprehensible — but this one error could cost him his entire career. That seems awfully extreme. He’s apologized, paid his fine — what more do we expect from someone in this situation?

    After all, his quarterback ran a dogfighting ring out of his house. If that deserves a second chance than Riley Cooper easily deserves that second chance. How else is he going to redeem himself?

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