It really bugged me when Chip Kelly was selected as the Ultimate Eagles Villain in our recent Philly Villains series.
Not that Kelly wasn’t a villain. He was. The guy was a terrible communicator, he alienated his players, he was the world’s worst general manager and his team quit on him.
But the Ultimate Villain?
Norman Braman deserved that prestigious honor.
Kelly is certainly not a person to celebrate. He got rid of LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson. He traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. He signed Byron Maxwell and DeMarco Murray. He released Evan Mathis.
But you can make a case that without Kelly, there is no Super Bowl. Without Kelly, there is no parade down Broad Street.
So while the rest of Philly vilifies Kelly, we’re going to count down the 10 smartest moves he made while he was with the Eagles. And I guarantee nobody has ever made a list of the 10 smartest things Norman Braman ever did as Eagles owner.
1. April 25-26, 2013: Drafted Lane Johnson in the first round and Zach Ertz in the second round
Howie Roseman was still general manager, and he certainly had a hand in these picks, but even though Kelly didn’t have the GM tag yet he did have significant power in the draft room, and both picks bore his seal of approval. Both have gone on to make numerous Pro Bowls and both are now all-time Eagles.
2. Feb. 8, 2013: Named Jeff Stoutland offensive line coach
It was a stroke of genius for Kelly to hire Stoutland, who came to the Eagles with zero NFL experience but quickly emerged as one of the most highly regarded offensive line coaches in the NFL. Doug Pederson kept Stoutland around, and he’s done a masterful job, especially during the 2017 Super Bowl season. Stout has sent five linemen to a total of 15 Pro Bowls in his seven years here under Kelly and Pederson.
3. March 11, 2014: Signed free-agent safety Malcolm Jenkins
Roseman was still officially GM in the spring of 2014, but Chip was instrumental in luring Jenkins away from the Saints. Jenkins made his first three career Pro Bowls during his six years with the Eagles and never missed a snap because of injury. Jenkins had 11 interceptions and four pick-6’s as an Eagle and was an inspirational locker room leader and tireless proponent for social justice and change in the community as well. Jenkins re-signed with the Saints this offseason.
4. Feb. 8, 2013: Named Duce Staley running backs coach
Don’t forget, Staley was never a running backs coach under Andy Reid. That was a Chip Kelly invention. Chip moved Staley from assistant special teams coach under Bobby April to a position where his talents were much better used, and Pederson kept him. Staley has proven to be one of the best running back coaches in the NFL, and the Eagles are seventh in the league in rushing in his seven years under Kelly and Pederson. Staley just made our list of the top 10 assistant coaches in Eagles history, along with Stoutland.
5. March 9, 2015: Signed Brandon Graham to a four-year, $26 million contract
Graham was expected to sign with the Giants and was close to joining the Eagles’ NFC East rival, but Kelly lured Graham back. Kelly was criticized for signing Graham instead of Trent Cole, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Colts. But Cole only recorded 5.0 sacks the rest of his career. Graham has 34 since then. And he recorded one of the biggest plays in franchise history in the Super Bowl.
6. Feb. 8, 2013: Hired Dave Fipp as special teams coach
Fipp has given the Eagles the same sort of smart, productive and consistent special teams play that John Harbaugh’s units delivered from 1998 through 2006. The Eagles were ranked No. 1 in the NFL in special teams by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News in 2014 and 2016 and they were nearly as good in 2017. Pederson was smart to keep Fipp around when he replaced Kelly.
7. May 1, 2015: Drafted Jordan Hicks in the third round
Hicks was very good when healthy in his four years with the Eagles, with seven interceptions, five sacks and six fumble recoveries. He started the first seven games of the Super Bowl season before getting hurt. By signing with the Cardinals last offseason, he earned the Eagles a comp pick that became promising offensive lineman Jack Driscoll.
8. Aug. 3, 2015: Traded Brandon Boykin to the Steelers
Another move that was roundly panned when Kelly made it, the Eagles shipped the popular Boykin — who had six INTs in 2013 — to the Steelers for a conditional fifth-round pick that remained a fifth-rounder because Boykin played only 274 snaps the rest of his career. The fifth-round pick the Eagles got from the Steelers became Halapoulivaati Vaitai, the Eagles’ starting left tackle in the Super Bowl.
9. Feb. 8, 2013: Hired Press Taylor as offensive quality control coach
Press Taylor was an unknown college grad assistant at Tulsa when Kelly hired him as an offensive quality control coach. Pederson kept him around when he got here in 2016 and in 2018 promoted him to quarterbacks coach. This offseason Pederson added the title of passing game coordinator to Taylor’s job description. Taylor has gone from an obscure college grad assistant to one of the most highly regarded young offensive minds in the league in seven years.
10. Jan. 19, 2015: Named Cory Undlin secondary coach
Undlin replaced John Lovett and although some Eagles fans don’t want to hear it, Undlin was a terrific teacher and motivator and another key coach on the 2017 Super Bowl team who originally came here under Kelly. With a constantly changing array of cornerbacks, Undlin kept the secondary together, and in his four years under Pederson and Jim Schwartz, the Eagles held opposing QBs to the eighth-lowest completion percentage and 12th-lowest passer rating in the NFL. Undlin is now starting his first season as Lions defensive coordinator.
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