ONE OF THE interesting aspects of the reported rift between Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and coach Chip Kelly is that it is Roseman who is generally credited with continuing the pursuit of Kelly after he originally turned down the Eagles' overtures 2 years ago. The Eagles, you may recall, had a carousel of coaches either interview for the job or turn down similar overtures - Gus Bradley, Doug Marrone and Bill O'Brien, then a coach at Penn State, among them.
All three became head coaches in the NFL, although this week Marrone opted out of his contract with the Buffalo Bills after 2 years, which included this season's 9-7 finish - their first winning record since 2004.
Marrone, with a pro background before coaching at Syracuse, had many backers for the Eagles' job. So did Bradley, me among them. And if the O'Brien situation wasn't so ticklish at the time - same state, Penn State messiah - it might have been him coaching here the last two seasons, not Kelly.
I wrote the other day that we still don't know how Kelly will ultimately translate as an NFL head coach: Whether he will win enough to solidify his reputation but not enough to keep him from fleeing back to college, the way Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier and now Jim Harbaugh have, to name just a few.
Harbaugh's move came after a long and bitter rift with the GM. And the tea leaves here are leaning toward a similar conclusion.
It is instructive that Kelly spurned a number of lucrative offers - including one from Tom Coughlin and the Giants - to remain as the lightly paid (well under $90,000) offensive coordinator at the University of New Hampshire for 8 years. Why? Because he was given autonomy by head coach Sean McDonnell during that time, something he received as well when he finally moved on to Oregon, first as the Ducks' coordinator and then head coach.
A small example: He discontinued an established alumni function because it interfered with his coaching schedule, ruffling the down of some influential (re: financially well-off) Duck alums.
But he always had the support of the biggest Duck, Nike's Phil Knight, so his autonomy went unchecked.
Apparently, not here. The departure of his handpicked personnel guy, owner Jeff Lurie's emphatic support of Roseman minutes after this half-empty season ended, suggests that, for the first time in a long while, what Chip wants is not what Chip gets.
Which makes you wonder what Roseman was thinking when he went after him so hard in the first place. That he was going to train him? Or rein him in?
Neither is likely to occur. Like Saban, Spurrier and Harbaugh, Chip has options. Indeed, his name is habitually floated every time there's a major college opening.
The sad irony is that history has proved Roseman right to have kept after him rather than taking one of the other top candidates of the time. I believe O'Brien will be a successful head coach in the NFL, if this year didn't prove that already. But is he any better, more innovative or organized than his longtime New England buddy here? Nothing he has done in Houston suggests that.
It's also hard to imagine that Gus Bradley - who just fired his offensive coordinator, Jedd Fisch - would have done better here. The Eagles were undoubtedly farther along than the Jaguars when teams were hiring, but 4-12 followed by 3-13 followed by the firing of the offensive coordinator you personally hired does not suggest upward mobility. Especially when you factor in the development of quarterback Blake Bortles, the third overall pick of the 2014 draft, who will now have two coordinators in his first two seasons.
This can't be good.
Just ask Robert Griffin III.
The Jaguars have scored the fewest number of points in each of Bradley's two seasons as coach there. The Eagles have set and reset franchise records for points scored in Kelly's first two. Jacksonville's defense, particularly its pass rush, could be gnarly this year, as the Eagles learned in their opening game. But it was also as full of holes and as inconsistent as the Eagles' defense was this season.
The teams finished within a few places of each other in several statistical categories in the final NFL rankings, including points allowed. But Bradley has 2 years left on his contract, and Kelly's final meeting with the press included a vote of confidence for his defensive coordinator Bill Davis - not the pink slip some had anticipated.
As for Marrone, he was an offensive guy whose offense had taken a few steps backwards, at least statistically, since his arrival. Drafting EJ Manuel - and now leaving him - suggests that was a big bullet dodged. If his relationship with Buffalo media was icy as reported - amid a surprisingly successful season - just imagine how it's going to go if the Jets make him their coach, as some are speculating.
So the cautionary tales are there. If nothing else, Chip Kelly has done a messiah's job of making this team relevant again in the two seasons he's been here, and making us believe the team owner thinks more like Robert Kraft than Jerry Jones.
Howie Roseman's persistence in hiring Kelly, and Lurie's endorsement of it, restored a lot of lost faith in them. They better tread carefully if they want that to continue.
On Twitter: @samdonnellon