In 1976, the Philadelphia Eagles dipped into the college ranks and tabbed Dick Vermeil, the then head coach of UCLA to be its new savior in the NFL.
While the fans of Philadelphia did not initially warm up to the idea of a college coach coming in and changing the culture of the franchise, Vermeil’s style was accepted once the Eagles were atop the NFC East and playing in the Super Bowl in 1980. As a child born in Philadelphia, I cannot tell you enough how tough it is to be a coach of any sport in the “City of Brotherly Love.”
Vermeil was blessed with talent like Wilbert Montgomery, Harold Carmichael and Ron Jaworski. He coached the team until 1982 when he left coaching for a seat in the college football booth covering games for ABC.
Fast forward 31 years to today and the Eagles are trying the same thing again, only this time, Chip Kelly, the wildly successful head coach from Oregon is taking a swing at the NFL and hoping his offense can be effective in the pro ranks as well as it was in Oregon for the Ducks.
Ironically, one of those players who enjoyed success under Vemeil, Jaworski, does not think Kelly's offensive game plan translates to success in the NFL.
Will Kelly find that success or will he follow the path of Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino --- three players who left college to find the grass is not greener on the other side. Here are some reasons why Kelly will be successful in the NFL.
* He is new to the game: Kelly has only coached in the college game. Like a rookie who lights up the league with his talent, they sometimes do so because they know no better. Kelly helped the Ducks upset the then #5 USC Trojans on October 31. Kelly became the first Pac-10 coach to win an outright conference championship in his first season, sending the Ducks to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1995.
* The offense is geared toward Michael Vick's success: Kelly has had athletic quarterbacks behind center for him in Oregon with Dennis Dixon, Jeremiah Masoli and Marcus Mariota. None of them have the talent of Vick, who can run and throw the ball about as good as for Eagles great Randall Cunningham.
* He has drawn NFL interest before: New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin tried to hire Kelly as a quality control coach in 2006 when he was still the offensive coordinator at the University of New Hampshire. Kelly turned down the offer and shortly after became the offensive coordinator at the University of Oregon.
In the spring of 2009, Jon Gruden and Kelly spent several days in Tampa, Florida going over theories, progressions, and offensive strategies. In November 2010, Kelly visited Pete Carroll at the Seattle Seahawks practice facility.
* He has Captain Hoodie's endorsement: During the 2012 off season, Kelly met with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to discuss how he operated the "blur" offense that he ran at Oregon. New England then implemented a no-huddle hurry-up offense during the 2012 NFL season.
If the Patriots are using any form of this offense in their game plan, it must work. Belichick, a coach known for keeping his decision making close to the vest, must know something we don't if that is the case.
* Bigger, Stronger, Faster: Kelly is not only changing the offense in Philadelphia, he is also changing the culture. He has had spirited practices, been working on fast paced drills, as seen on ESPN, and has fans and players excited. While Andy Reid was loved in Philadelphia, his stay, for 13 seasons, became old and tiresome. Kelly has infused a team with hope and excitement, much like a college atmosphere.