On one hand, Lurie made a significant commitment to Kelly, giving him absolute power over the organization. Things have gone horribly wrong, but Lurie might have felt that it would be the wrong thing to do to end the arrangement after just one season.
However, if Lurie looks to the division rival franchise that won the NFC East this year, he can learn an important lesson about commitments, forward thinking, and doing what is truly at the best interest of the franchise.
When the Washington Redskins went to Training Camp this year, it was expected that former top draft pick Robert Griffin would the team’s starting quarterback come opening day. After all, the Redskins had made a titanic investment in Griffin, trading three first-rounders and a second-round pick to the Rams to move up and select Griffin back in 2012. And the quarterback was still overwhelming with physical potential and ability, so surely the Redskins owed it to themselves, and the to Griffin, to give it one more shot, right?
Far from it.
Washington head coach Jay Gruden recognized that Griffin wasn’t the answer. He had seen enough of the former starter to know that he wasn’t the best choice to lead his football team in 2015.
So Gruden made a difficult, controversial, and unpopular decision: he benched Griffin and named Kirk Cousins his starting quarterback.
Many analysts and fans threw up their hands and criticized the move. When you heard everyone talk about Washington, you’d hear “same old Redskins”, “dumpster fire”, and “dysfunctional” being used to describe them.
But it turns out Gruden was right.
It wasn’t always pretty, and it took a little time for Cousins to settle in and for all of his weapons to get healthy, but the Redskins wound up being the only team in the division to finish with a .500 record or better, and ended up winning the NFC East. Cousins has really started to come on over the month and a half, and is set to throw for over 4,000 yards while also eliminating a lot of the turnovers that had hurt his game in year’s past.
The bottom line here is that Gruden looked at this situation, and he was true to himself and with what was best for that team. And even though the idea of benching a healthy Griffin for Cousins seemed unfathomable at the time, it was the best thing for the franchise.
And now we go back to Jeffrey Lurie and his bumbling head coach/general manager Chip Kelly.
Kelly has failed to win a playoff game in three years in the NFL. He has now missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. His teams continue to regress, and his major personnel moves have been disasters.
As I wrote the other day, the future projections of this program under Kelly are rather grim.
So now this is Lurie’s opportunity to be proactive. And he knocked it out of the park. The evidence was clear that the Chip Kelly experiment was just not going to end well. Returning the head coach for a fourth season and another year of full control would bring results very similar to what we’ve seen this past season.
Thankfully, Lurie came to terms with what was best for the franchise, and pulled the plug on one of the biggest frauds in Philadelphia sports history.