Chip Kelly’s power struggle cost him job

When the Eagles were knocked out of contention for the second straight season by the Washington Redskins in Week 16 on Saturday night, Chip Kelly was asked about how much responsibility he shouldered for it.

The Eagles coach and first-year GM shouldered it all.

"One hundred percent," Kelly said. "That's all on my shoulders. It's the same thing I said a year ago, it's unacceptable. We have got to find a way to do a better job, and we have to put these guys in a better position to make plays. So it's one hundred percent on my shoulders."

Make no mistake about it, Chip Kelly, the coach, failed miserably this season after two solid 10-6 seasons with different outcomes. But Chip Kelly, the GM, was the one who cost the coach his job after three seasons at the helm of the Eagles.

Chip Kelly was all about the power. He wanted total control. He got it this season when he could make personnel decisions.

He traded LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso and signed Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray to serve as replacements. Mathews missed three games with injury and Kelly never adjusted his system for Murray, who struggled mightily and grew increasingly frustrated as the season wore on.

His deal for Sam Bradford, sending Nick Foles to St. Louis, proved to be a push by statistics — in fact, Bradford was actually a little better — but you could argue Foles would have been better with the Eagles simply by knowing the system and having some already established chemistry with receivers, something the Eagles never seemed to find under Bradford.

A key part of the offensive struggles was a season of decline for Jason Peters, despite a Pro-Bowl selection, and a wave of injuries and struggles for the rest of the offensive line, regarded by some as the worst in football.

Defensively, the team established one of the best front seven groups in the leagues, but struggled to build a secondary.

All the way around, Kelly has failed to construct the team after Jeffrey Lurie entrusted the personnel decisions and handed over the reigns of control.

And according to Sal Paolantonio of ESPN, Lurie's decision came after Kelly refused to give up the reigns of personnel control.

Chip Kelly's power struggle and the overall lust to capture it and keep it cost him two jobs, the GM position he lobbied for so much and the head coaching job that brought him to Philadelphia in the first place.

It was an all too brief love affair. Take a team that couldn't win a game down the stretch and a franchise desperate for a new voice from 4-12 and no playoffs to 10-6 and a division title, and you'll look like a hero too.

But Kelly's handling of this offseason and the team's subsequent performance is the reason it has come to this.

When the Eagles won back-to-back games to move into a tie for first in the NFC East, the ball was in Kelly's court. He needed two wins, particularly in the final two weeks of the season. The last game would only be meaningful if he won against Washington. A 38-24 result, in a game defined by mistakes on the field, ended Kelly's tenure in more ways than one.

It was one thing to lose the game the way they did, but Kelly whole-heartedly admitted that it wasn't just a lack of execution, but a poor job by the coaching staff. By shouldering the blame, Kelly hurt himself as well.

A third-year coach can't move backwards the way the Eagles did this year and expect things to be sunshine and rainbows in the offices of NovaCare Complex. If things aren't showing signs of improvement by the end of the season, you can forget next year. The Eagles are in shambles, moreso now than before. Because now, the offseason involves a coaching search in addition to a reconstruction of a team that once had playoff aspirations.

You wanted to root for Chip Kelly. You wanted his innovative ways to work in the NFL and to lead the Eagles to the promised land of a Super Bowl.

But Chip Kelly went from a lovable underdog to a power-hungry dictator that wanted all the control, all the power. Those guys aren't lovable anymore. The results of his decisions just made it worse.

Power can corrupt a society, a nation, an organization or franchise. Kelly's struggle for power and control corrupt the Eagles. And now the search is on for the next leader on the sidelines.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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