Coaching in the NFL continues to change. From the Mike Shanahan’s to the Pete Carroll’s, the role of an NFL coach varies with each team. Depending on the construction of a team, each city sets different priorities for the characteristics they are looking for in a coach.
What a team needs in a coach also comes with a shelf life. A disciplinarian like Jim Harbaugh may not have the longevity of his brother John Harbaugh, who coaches with tough love. Despite reports of a “mutiny” the year John Harbaugh took the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl, his team was filled with veterans like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
On the other end of the spectrum are “player’s coaches” like Andy Reid, who refuses to levy blame on his players and are often accused of coddling players. Reid’s act in Philadelphia wore thin with both fans and the media, but his players rarely wavered in their support of “Big Red.” Seattle employs a similar coach in the aforementioned Carroll. At the tender age of 62, Carroll was as energetic as his young team, which he led to the Super Bowl.
Then there is Bill Belichick. Belichick, the New England staple, is the NFL’s longest tenured coach. He will be entering his 14th year with the Patriots and has made the playoffs 11 times. He is the “gold standard” of a coaching, but little is known about him. The "Hoodie" is known to control every aspect of his team and has expectations for every player on the roster. If a player goes against Belichick, that player will quickly be finding a new team.
Which brings us to Chip Kelly. Kelly enters his second year in Philadelphia and we still don’t completely know who he is. We know that he eats, sleeps, and breathes football, that he believes strongly in conditioning and sports science, but that’s pretty much it. Prior to coming to Philadelphia, a USA Today report noted that the former Oregon coach upset “a number of substantial Oregon football boosters” because of his lack of interaction with them. The coach has taken a similar road with Eagles media, only speaking when he must.
So it brings upon the question, what kind of coach do players, fans, and media members want? And what do we want out of Kelly?
For players, a coach to have their backs when times are tough and a coach to pat them on the behind when things are going good. For the fans, all that matters is winning, which appears to be all that interests Chip Kelly.
There is only one thing that comes before Kelly's "win above all else" mentality and that is choosing the right coach. As we've seen around the league, choosing the wrong coach sets a franchise back for years, but choosing the right coach, it changes the fortunes of the entire team. And when push comes to shove, the future fortunes of the franchise trumps the desire of fans, players, and the media.
Hal Greenblatt covers the Eagles for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter: @HMGreenblatt