Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Some Fans Liked Gus Bus over Chip Ship

The Eagles made it clear Wednesday that they got the guy they set their sights on at the start of their search, when they dismissed Andy Reid on New Year's Eve.

Some Fans Liked Gus Bus over Chip Ship

New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is a native of Manchester, New Hampshire. (Greg Wahl-Stephens/AP file)
New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is a native of Manchester, New Hampshire. (Greg Wahl-Stephens/AP file)

The Eagles made it clear Wednesday that they got the guy they set their sights on at the start of their search, when they dismissed Andy Reid on New Year's Eve.

It was interesting, though, that an extremely unscientific online poll conducted by Comcast SportsNet later in the day found a relatively unexciting 51 percent of fans endorsing the hiring of Oregon coach Chip Kelly, 49 percent disapproving. A Philly.com poll, equally unscientific, produced a different result -- 63.7 percent in favor, 36.3 percent disapproving. But even there, 36.3 percent is a high number when you contrast it with the front office's "we got our man" euphoria.

The upshot, as I see it: Even though six of the seven NFL coaches hired the past few weeks have offensive backgrounds, reflecting the focus of the league these days, fans here were excited about the one guy who looked bright and innovative but had the smashmouth defensive chops -- Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who signed on Thursday to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars, two days after being welcomed to Philadelphia like a hero who'd arrived to liberate the populace from oppression.

The Inky's Phil Sheridan said a week or so ago he couldn't envision Jeffrey Lurie hiring a coach named Gus, and sure enough, Lurie didn't. Bradley was the meat and potatoes meal fans would have felt comfortable with, would have bonded to instantly. Kelly is free-range duck l'orange served on a bed of truffles and gluten-free risotto, with grilled white asparagus and radicchio shavings. A meal for someone like Lurie, in other words.

Kelly can be an engaging quipster. He thinks faster on his feet than Reid did. We'll see in a few hours how he begins to forge his bond here. There are good reasons to assume the owner is right, that cutting-edge offensive concepts are a crucial part of making this hire in 2013, when defense has basically been outlawed by the league. But Bradley, the grittier guy with the shaved head, would have been a much easier sell to a fan base that has never been comfortable living in the future.

Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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