How Chip Kelly to the NFL affects Arizona football, past and present
University of Oregon head coach Chip Kelly talks with the media during a news conference at the Camelback Inn Resort in Paradise Valley, Arizona on Wednesday, January 2, 2013. Oregon faces Kansas State University in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Thursday. (Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/MCT)
Chip Kelly dropped a bombshell on Oregon and the Pac-12 conference with the news that he will depart Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coaching job.
Since we cover Arizona athletics here at the Arizona Daily Wildcat, we like to approach news like this from a Wildcat perspective.
At first glance, this might look like good news for the 2013 UA football team, but unless there’s a mass exodus at UO, the Ducks are still light years ahead of Arizona in their level of talent and they will be for the foreseeable future.
Oregon had already announced that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will replace Kelly should he leave for the NFL, and he’s coached alongside Kelly for the last four years, so it’s probably safe to say he knows what he’s doing.
Although if I was Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, I’d be calling every single Oregon recruit.
As for Nick Foles, the Eagles’ quarterback and Arizona’s former star signal caller, things are looking dicey.
If you thought Rodriguez’s no-huddle offense was fast, you haven’t seen Oregon play in the last four years.
And if you haven’t seen Oregon play in the last four years, you’re missing out.
Kelly’s offense runs at a fast, no-huddle breakneck pace. It thrives on its speed, and his high-scoring offense has been the most exciting to watch in all of college football.
On average, Oregon has run the ball 62.4 percent of the time in Kelly’s tenure.
In the last four years, the Ducks have ranked third, fourth, fifth and sixth nationally in rushing.
Oh, not to mention, Kelly guided the Ducks to four BCS bowls, including one national championship berth. So, the offense seems to be working, although its translation is unclear.
I personally think it can work, as long as the right personnel are in place. Just look at Seattle with Russell Wilson, Washington with Robert Griffin III and Carolina with Cam Newton.
Which brings me to my next point: Foles isn’t exactly what you would call a “mobile quarterback”.
“Whoever they hire as the new head coach coming in, hopefully will fall in love with him,” former UA quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo told me on Tuesday. “I’m biased, I think Nick is a terrific comp; he’s going to play a long time in the NFL and be successful. I’m hoping that the new head coach feels the same way and looks at him the same way and says he can be our guy.”
Some might say Foles moves in slow motion, so I’m not sure Kelly will feel the same as Scelfo.
Foles did fine in bad circumstances in Philadelphia this year — injuries to the offensive line and an impending coaching switch, among other things, led to a 4-12 season for the Eagles. He threw for 1,699 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions in seven games. But he also ran for 42 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts.
He is Arizona’s all-time leading passer, but in three years as the Wildcats starter he ran for a grand total of… minus-289 yards.
This past year, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota ran for 752 yards.
Also, Foles ran a 5.14 40-yard dash at last year’s NFL scouting combine. By comparison, Mariota ran a 4.48 coming out of high school, and Arizona’s latest NFL prospect, Matt Scott, ran a 4.65.
Although, it can’t hurt that in three years Foles threw for 1,160 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions against Oregon.
It isn’t clear just yet if Kelly will keep Foles, or even the speedy Michael Vick who’s owed $15.5 million next year.
In Fiesta Bowl interviews a few weeks ago, Kelly addressed whether or not his system would work in the NFL.
“Anything you do has to be personnel-driven,” he said. “You have to adapt to the personnel you have. There’s a lot of great offenses out there, but does it fit with the personnel you have? The key is making sure what you’re doing is giving your people a chance to be successful.”
No matter which way you slice it, Foles doesn’t fit in Kelly’s offense. Which begs another interesting question: Is Matt Scott a candidate for Kelly?
He’s mobile (ran for 500-plus yards in 2012) and has experience in Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense, which is similar to Kelly’s.
Also, he can be had after the first round in April’s NFL Draft (he’s projected in the 3-4 round range by CBS Sports).
Wouldn’t that be something?
In 2009, Foles swooped in and stole the UA starting quarterback job from Scott. Four years later, there’s a legitimate chance that Scott will return the favor.