The Eagles are well past the mostly disastrous days of Chip Kelly, but it's astonishing to look at how often they proved him wrong this season en route to their first Super Bowl title.
Time of possession does actually matter
Remember all those times Chip said time of possession didn't matter?
Well, the Eagles just led the NFL in time of possession, dominated all three playoff opponents in time of possession and won the Super Bowl.
Think it helped that their fourth-quarter, game-winning drive lasted over seven minutes? Or that they set the tone against the Patriots' defense with an opening drive that lasted nearly half of the first quarter?
Eerily, the Eagles held the ball for exactly 34:04 against the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. For the season, they controlled the ball for 32:48 per game.
In some convoluted way, you wonder if the grueling nature of practices and games under Kelly inevitably helped the Eagles' defense. These guys were used to being on the field 35 minutes a game, so they built up that stamina and energy reserve, then didn't need as much of it.
Foles > Bradford
Remember how frustrated Eagles fans were initially when Chip traded Nick Foles and a second-round pick to the Rams for Sam Bradford?
Sure looks like another talent misevaluation.
Bradford has had trouble staying healthy, missing nearly all of 2017 with a knee injury.
Foles just won a Super Bowl and became the only QB ever to have three TDs, 350-plus yards and 65-plus percent accuracy in consecutive postseason weeks.
There's also this:
QBs who’ve won a Super Bowl & completed 65% of their passes in each postseason game:— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) February 6, 2018
As for Bradford, he's still yet to attempt a playoff pass.
Empowering players works ... who'da thunk it?
Jeff Lurie's "emotional intelligence" quote after the firing of Kelly got a ton of attention. It's not a phrase you often hear uttered in sports.
Know what? Lurie got that aspect of his coaching search 100 percent right. Super Bowl or not, innovative play-calling or not, aggressiveness or not, Pederson connected with these players from Day 1.
The veterans' council he set up went a very long way in creating a harmonious link between locker room and coaching staff. Guys got to rest when they needed to. They got to ramp up practice aggression and hit more when they needed to. Under Chip, the Eagles never hit in practice.
And, maybe most importantly, they got to be themselves. One of the best quotes after the Super Bowl came from Malcolm Jenkins in his postgame message to the locker room.
"And we had more fun doin' it than anybody in this f***ing league." — Malcolm Jenkins' last line in message to teammates in locker room after game— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) February 5, 2018
If only Chip had past evidence that democracies work better than dictatorships.
'Big people beat up little people'
Not always the case.
Know who's undersized for his position? Mychal Kendricks, who fell out of favor under Kelly and just had by far the best season of his career.
Jordan Matthews is a big receiver Kelly loved playing in the slot, but the Eagles traded Matthews and took their slot production to another level this season with the smaller, shiftier, speedier Nelson Agholor.
On the flipside of that equation is Eric Rowe, a cornerback with good size drafted under the Kelly regime and traded by Howie Roseman. Rowe has been an OK pro, but he was overmatched in the first half of the Super Bowl against Alshon Jeffery and was in coverage on Jeffery's 34-yard touchdown catch. It wasn't until the Patriots moved Stephon Gilmore onto Jeffery that he slowed down.
Interchangeable running backs
Another common refrain from Kelly during his time here was that all of his running backs were interchangeable and capable of doing the same things on the field.
That claim from Kelly defied logic considering he said it about a group of DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, three very different running backs.
Pederson this season divvied up playing time among his RBs in a strategic, effective way. Darren Sproles, then Kenjon Barner and eventually Corey Clement played well in the James White role. LeGarrette Blount was money in short yardage more often than not. Jay Ajayi's fresh legs provided runs of 71, 46, 30, 22 and 19 yards down the stretch.
Leonard Fournette was the only running back in the NFL this season who had more rushing first downs than Blount and Ajayi.
One thing Chip was right about? Culture does indeed beat scheme. Just not his culture.