It was not that long ago that Eagles executive vice president of football operations, Howie Roseman, was essentially demoted from general manager and relieved of most of his personnel duties while head coach Chip Kelly was given the reins as de facto GM. Now, however, the tide may be turning in Roseman’s favor. After Philadelphia’s blowout loss on Thanksgiving, Kelly, according to a tweet from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was “despondent,” “feeling the heat,” and “considering all options.” Although Kelly remains intent on fixing his team’s struggles, the odds that he remains in Philadelphia beyond this season are growing slimmer with each passing day.
That is not to say that he will definitely not return. After all, he guided his club to 10-6 records in each of his first two years in Philadelphia, and if the team is able to acquire a quarterback that has the skill-set to excel in his offensive system–like Colin Kaepernick, for instance–there is no reason to believe that the Eagles cannot return to the top of the NFC East in 2016. If we were talking simply about Kelly the coach, it would be almost foolish to think that he would not remain with the team next year.
The problem is, Kelly the coach is also Kelly the GM, and as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out, that means that Kelly is fully responsible for what has happened to the Eagles this season, including the predictable struggles of the Sam Bradford-led offense. Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that Kelly the GM took gambles on players with extensive injury histories who unsurprisingly have missed time with injury, he chose the wrong veteran players to send packing, and per Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kelly’s behavior concerning injured players has left much to be desired.
If Kelly is to leave Philadelphia, voluntarily or otherwise, he would immediately become the most sought-after option among college programs looking for a new head coach, and that may be an increasingly tempting possibility for him. Indeed, Rapoport tweets that USC has reached out to Kelly to express the school’s interest in him, and the Trojans are just one of a number of teams that could be a nice landing spot for the embattled coach (although Rapoport does add that the Titans, who are committed to the quarterback that Kelly tried to draft in May, Marcus Mariota, could make a run at Kelly if he becomes available).
Should Kelly depart, Florio speculates that Roseman could be on the verge of seizing a level of control over the Eagles that he has never had before. After all, as Kelly rightfully has borne the brunt of the blame for his club’s struggles in 2016, Roseman has, by comparison, come out smelling like a rose. Although there are plenty of writers both inside and outside of the Eagles beat who believe Kelly will remain in Philadelphia next year, it would be very easy for owner Jeffrey Lurie to move on from Kelly and restore Roseman to the GM role. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but if the Thanksgiving debacle was a harbinger of things to come, Roseman could once again be running the show in Philadelphia in a couple of months.