The Other 31: Eagles busy getting the pieces in place for Chip Kelly’s first season

Chip Kelly, LeSean McCoy

New Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly greets running back LeSean McCoy during practice in June. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

Philadelphia Eagles

nfl_eaglesBackground: Schedule | Depth chart | Draft | Team page | Previous teams

Last season’s record: 4-12

Coaching change: Fired Andy Reid, hired Chip Kelly

Key players released: T Demetress Bell, DT Mike Patterson, DT Cullen Jenkins, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, P Mat McBriar, LB Ryan Rau, QB Trent Edwards, TE Evan Moore

Key free agents lost: T King Dunlap, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, LB Darryl Tapp, DT Derek Landri, LB Akeem Jordan

Key free agents re-signed: LS Jon Dorenbos

Key free agents added: LB Chris McCoy, QB Dennis Dixon, RB/TE James Casey, DT Isaac Sopoaga, CB Bradley Fletcher, S Patrick Chung, LB Jason Phillips, S Kenny Phillips, CB Cary Williams, LB Connor Barwin, P Donnie Jones, RB Felix Jones

Key players traded: FB Stanley Havili, RB Dion Lewis

Key trade additions: WR Arrelious Benn, DE Clifton Geathers, LB Emmanuel Acho

Draft:

Rd. 1 (No. 4 overall)… Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma

2 (35)… Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

3 (67)… Bennie Logan, DT, Louisiana State

4 (98)… Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California

5 (136)… Earl Wolff, S, N.C. State

7 (212)… Joe Kruger, DE, Utah

7 (218)… Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

7 (239)… David King, DE, Oklahoma

Analysis: The Chip Kelly era begins in Philadelphia much as the Steve Spurrier era began in Washington in 2002, with questions about whether a college coach’s revved-up offense will translate in NFL success.

This isn’t to say that Kelly’s coaching tenure with the Eagles will go the way that Spurrier’s coaching stay with the Redskins did. Spurrier went 12-20 in two seasons in D.C., decided that he’d had enough of the NFL and returned to the college ranks.

It is to say, however, that the potential pitfalls might be similar.

Spurrier actually might have been far closer to succeeding in the NFL than many realize. Some of those who worked for him in Washington remember him as a brilliant offensive strategist who simply wasn’t willing to make the adjustments to his system and his way of doing things that would have been necessary to make it all work in the NFL.  He wanted the coaches who had been around him in the college ranks. He wanted the players who knew his system and had thrived while playing for him at Florida. He wanted to run his offense. At times, some of those people thought, it all felt like an experiment of sorts to see if what Spurrier did would work in the NFL.

If Kelly falls into the same rut, there could be issues. But if he’s willing to take his system and bend it around the edges where and when necessary, things could work for him in the NFL. That doesn’t necessarily mean right away, of course.

He first must settle on a quarterback from among Michael Vick, Nick Foles and rookie Matt Barkley. Some within the league say they wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Barkley get a chance at some point during the season, although probably not right away. There are playmakers in place throughout the Philadelphia offense, and the Eagles added to that collection by using their second-round draft pick on Stanford tight end Zach Ertz. Offensive tackle Lane Johnson, taken with the fourth overall selection the draft, has the athleticism to fit right in with Kelly’s uptempo style.

The defense got a makeover in free agency, including the secondary with the release of Nnamdi Asomugha and the free-agent departure of fellow cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Cornerback Cary Williams and safeties Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung were added as free agents.

Kelly’s arrival makes the Eagles relevant again. They will be among the league’s closest-watched teams this season. Whether it will make the Eagles winners again, either this season or soon after, remains a subject up for intense debate.

Why Redskins fans should care: The NFC East rivals open the regular season against one another in a Monday night game Sept. 9 at FedEx Field, Kelly’s NFL head coaching debut. They also play Nov. 17 in Philadelphia.

Conversation starter: Will Chip Kelly win in the NFL?

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

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