It’s been about 24 hours since the Philadelphia Eagles fired Chip Kelly, and already speculation has began of whether Chip Kelly’s next home will be in Nashville, Tennessee with his prodigy from the University of Oregon, Marcus Mariota.
Mr. Mariota played for Mr. Kelly as a redshirt freshman in 2012. The Oregon Ducks went 12-1 with the duo. Mr. Kelly then left Oregon to coach the Eagles.
While Mr. Kelly led the Eagles to consecutive 10-6 seasons, Mr. Mariota won the heisman trophy and led his team to the 2014 National Championship game, only to lose to Ohio State.
In the off season following the 2014 season, rumor abounded that Mr. Kelly sought to reunite with Mr. Mariota in Philadelphia. When Eagles’ owner Jeff Lurie gave Mr. Kelly complete control over personnel decisions, Mr. Kelly made an immediate splash, trading fan favorites running back Lesean McCoy and quarterback Nick Foles, while bringing in Demarco Murray and Sam Bradford. Some executives and analysts believed some of these moves, particularly the Bradford trade, were intended to trade up and draft Mr. Mariota. Despite reports from NFL Network of a trade offer to the Tennessee Titans, no trade occured.
If Mr. Mariota and Mr. Kelly were to team up once more, now would seem to be the ideal time. Mr. Kelly is now jobless, but the Titans fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt following a 1-6 start to the season. The Titans have not hired a new head coach, instead allowing coach Mike Mularkey to be the interim coach for the season.
If the Titans were to hire Mr. Kelly as their new head coach, the Titans would perhaps have the opportunity to compete for a playoff spot immediately. There is a possibility that this season’s winner of the AFC South will be 8-8. Tennessee may earn the number 1 pick in the draft this off season, which could be used on an immediate impact player.
But for a reunion to be successful, Mr. Kelly will need to learn from his lessons in Philadelphia. Bringing in “your own guys” does not immediately mean success. Mr. Kelly will need to blend the already existing talent in Tennessee with new players. And he will need to earn the respect of his players. Several players in Philadelphia aired grievances with the way Mr. Kelly treated them and approached them. His trades lost him the respect of the locker room.
In Tennessee Mr. Kelly would already have the respect and support of Mr. Mariota. His first battle would be earning the respect of the other 52 men in the locker room.