Cashing in their Chip

He was set to revolutionize the NFL, with his unique offense and quirky personnel moves. Instead, he took a team brimming with potential and broke it down to a team with plenty of holes, lots of question marks and no real cohesiveness or long term plan.

Chip_Kelly
The Eagles released Kelly on Tuesday.

Chip Kelly certainly made a wave in the NFL. Many are shocked that Kelly is gone and that Philly wouldn’t give him another chance but I have to say it seemed only too obvious to can the former Oregon man.

Kelly tried running the Philadelphia Eagles as if it was a college organization, instead of a professional team. He wanted total power to build the team up rather than coach the pieces he was given. There was no check on his power and that led to him making some questionable moves. He jettisoned fan favorites and impact players such as Nick Foles, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy. He gambled on DeMarco Murray, Sam Bradford, Ryan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Kiko Alonso and still others. Kelly built the team he wanted, and it failed.

Eagles vs. Rams
Kelly brought his fast-paced offense with him from Oregon, running plays faster than we have ever seen in the NFL.

However, the system he introduced worked. His fast paced offense focused on moving quickly, running more plays and keeping the defense off balance showed tons of potential to work in the NFL and even had great success in Kelly’s first two years. I think Kelly still could be a coach in the NFL, just not in Philadelphia.

The ideal team format for Kelly is one that has a strong defense and an offense full of speed and quickness. The Eagles never had a good defense under Kelly, which led to lots of collapses late in games. Kelly also proved that he could coach, but should not be given control of personnel decisions. He implemented a system with guys like Jackson, Maclin and McCoy, all of whom fit the prototypical stature for players in Kelly’s offense, and then though he could do better. His plan backfired.

Marcus_Mariota
Mariota will miss the final game of the season, but he pieced together an impressive rookie campaign in the Music City.

Rumors have linked Kelly to Tennessee, who is currently in between coaches and has former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota on the roster. Mariota was Kelly’s greatest triumph at Oregon, as he hand-picked him in the recruiting process to run his unique offense. I think Kelly could fit well in Tennessee, as long as both he and the team are patient. The Titans need to make sure the general manager works with Kelly to bring in players, but ultimately that the GM has the final say and not Kelly himself.

I also think Kelly could find himself taking the Texas job next season. A move back to the collegiate level might be good for him as he tries to move on from the debacle he created in the City of Brotherly love. Texas has reportedly been trying to nail down Nick Saban for some time now but landing a high profile coach like Kelly could help turn their program around. It would appeal to Kelly too as he would have all the resources he needs to build the team how he wants along with a healthy contract to boot. That marriage could work out perfectly.

Otherwise, I don’t really see Kelly attracting a whole lot of attention from other pro teams. I think Tennessee might be the only team who would give him a chance.

Sam_Bradford
The former first round pick Bradford has struggled to stay healthy during his career and took a while to grasp the Philly offense.

As for the Eagles, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made about the structure of this team going forward. No matter who takes over the team, I cannot imagine that they will keep Sam Bradford. Bradford was average at best and highly inconsistent throughout the whole season. I for one think that Mark Sanchez would have done a better job of leading this team than Bradford did. The Oklahoma product’s contract is up at the end of this season so letting him walk should be easy for the Eagles.

DeMarco Murray also strikes me as a major question mark. Rumor has it that he wants out but with a new coach likely coming in at the beginning of next season, Murray could be made the cornerstone piece to build around in Philly. He is a talented running back who fits a zone run scheme. He simply was not a system fit with the Eagles under Kelly. He and Ryan Mathews could be a great tandem to build the new Eagles offense on.

There is going to be a major overhaul in Philly during the offseason. The defense has some intriguing pieces in Fletcher Cox, JaCorey Shepard, Mychal Kendricks, Eric Rowe and Jordan Hicks. The offense needs a lot of work. The offensive line needs some new blood and the receiving core is unreliable. Not to mention the quarterback position needs to be solved.

Whoever enters as the next coach will have a lot of work to do as soon as they step through the door. The Eagles are not that far away from competing in the NFC East, as we saw this year but they have some holes at key positions to be addressed.

Firing Kelly was the best thing, for both sides. The Eagles did not respond well to Kelly and the latter desperately needs a fresh start.

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Black Monday Preview

Next Monday is the latest edition of the NFL’s Black Monday. The NFL season is not officially over and this last week of the year could be the make or break position for some teams. Let’s take a look around the NFL at some of the coaches around the NFL who are on the hot seat.

 

Sean_Payton

Payton won a Super Bowl in 2009, but has only won two playoff games in the six years years since.

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Status: Safe
In all likelihood, Payton will still have his job at the end of this season. It has been a tumultuous for the Saints but this was deemed to be a retooling year. New Orleans shipped off their biggest offensive weapon and added a lot of new faces on defense. The team already made one coaching switch with the firing of Rob Ryan earlier this year. With Drew Brees still under contract, I don’t see the Saints looking to make a coaching switch. However, if next year looks the same as 2015 did for New Orleans, then no one in the Bayou is safe, and that includes Brees.

 

Tom Coughlin
In years where Coughlin hasn’t won the Super Bowl, the Giants have not won a playoff game.

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
Status: Undetermined
The Giants have had a very up and down season. They started very poorly and had some bright spots but altogether this season has been a disappointing one for Big Blue. Every week it seems like the Giants face the same problems of blowing games late and mismanaging the clock. Coughlin’s play calling and decision making has directly cost the Giants at least two games this season (against the Jets and Cowboys). If New York has another late-game meltdown or suffers a blowout against the rival Eagles, I think it might be the end of line for the veteran coach.

 

Dan Campbell
Campbell won a Super Bowl as a player on the Saints in 2009.

Dan Campbell, Miami Dolphins
Status: Will be fired
This week’s game against New England could be a huge resume builder for Miami if Campbell can somehow motivate his squad to a victory. However, it will most likely be too little, too late. Joe Philbin lead to the Dolphins to an abysmal start and lost his job after four weeks. Campbell came in and the Fins played inspired for two weeks, winning both games handily. Since then, Miami has only pulled off ugly wins against Philadelphia and Baltimore. Getting to six wins on the season won’t change anything for Miami’s assessment of the season and it will not save Campbell’s job.

 

 

Chip_Kelly
Kelly jettisoned notable players over his tenure in Philadelphia leading to very mixed results.

Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
Status: Will be fired
When you take a team that won ten games and narrowly missed the playoffs in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions a season ago and turn it into a team that cannot surpass the .500 in the league’s second weakest division, you deserve to be fired. Kelly completely sunk the Eagles and his offseason moves have backfired. DeMarco Murray isn’t worth half of what the Eagles signed him to. Sam Bradford has been the model of inconsistency, Kiko Alonso looks underwhelming and it is clear that the team misses players like Evan Mathis, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin. I will be shocked if Kelly is not fired and I personally think that Philly already should have let him go. [Update: The Eagles have fired Kelly. Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur will be the interim head coach.]

 

 

Mike Mularkey.jpg
This is Mularkey’s third time being an interim head coach.

Mike Mularkey, Tennessee Titans
Status: Undetermined
This year was obviously one where the expectations for the Titans were low. That didn’t stop the Tennessee brass from firing Ken Wisenhunt. Wisenhunt’s 3-20 start with the team in the two years and change he was in charge. Mularkey hasn’t had much better success, only winning two of the seven games he has been the head coach. However, with Marcus Mariota having just completed his rookie season, the team might be wary about completely starting over and forcing him to learn a new system. This decision is still very unclear.

 

38th CAB Flag Presentation to Colts
Caldwell led the Colts to the Super Bowl in 2009, but fell to Payton’s Saints.

Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions
Status: Safe
Detroit pulled off the interesting midseason move in which it fired its president and general manager, but kept its head coach. If that isn’t head scratching, then I don’t know what is. The move seems to have worked though. Since their bye, Detroit is 5-2 with one of those loses coming on a hail mary against the Packers on the last play. The switch at offensive coordinator also helped the Lions turn their season around. For a team that to the playoffs last year, this was still a disappointing season, but the Lions are trending upwards for 2016.

 

Mike McCoy
McCoy has yet to lead San Diego to the postseason.

Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers
Status: Safe
The Chargers entered 2015 with playoff aspirations. They will likely finish with a top five draft pick. It has not been a pretty season out in sunny California and the team is rumored to be moving to Los Angeles but that should not effect Mike McCoy. This was the first real sign of struggles for a Chargers team that has always been in the mix for the playoffs under McCoy. San Diego had a lot of new faces at key positions and some major injuries bogged this team down. San Diego has also been close in just about every contest. Eight of their eleven losses have been by only one possession. McCoy will get one more chance to get the Bolts into the postseason. If he fails next year, then he will be packing his bags.

 

 

Jason Garrett
Garrett only has one playoff appearance in his five years of being the Cowboys coach.

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Status: Safe
Jason Garrett found out the hard way this year that it is really hard to win games without your best offensive players. With Dez Bryant and Tony Romo hampered by injuries for most of the season, Dallas struggled mightily. It affect the Cowboys on all side of the ball. Way too frequently, the offense’s inability to move the ball with Matt Cassell/Brandon Weeden/Kellen Moore at quarterback put the defense in a tough position and eventually, the defense started to crack. There have been some rumors flying around regarding Garrett’s status considering how poorly the Cowboys played this season, but given the circumstances, I think Garrett will be sticking around for 2016.

 

What is Los Angeles planning now?

The LA Galaxy always try to stay ahead of the curve. Or at least that’s how it seems. Los Angeles continually makes to biggest signings in MLS and without a doubt will be one of the top teams in the league. From Landon Donovan to David Beckham to Giovani Dos Santos, LA has landed star after star after star.

 
JuninhoTo stay ahead though, you need to make some radical moves sometimes. LA certainly did that this past week as it moved Omar Gonzales and Juninho to Liga MX for a boatload of cash and tons of salary space. Those two had the highest salaries on the team for players that weren’t under the Designated Player tag. The Galaxy also let Donovan Ricketts and Mike Vayrynen leave the team opening up a $2 million salary hole for the winningest franchise in MLS history to fill.

Omar GonzalezThat should read as bad news for the rest of the league. LA has the unique ability of attracting big names to come and this already star-studded team is clearly looking to get better. This season was viewed a major disappointment as the squad failed to even make it to the Conference Finals.

Now the rest of the league has to be wondering, what will the Galaxy do next? Well for starters, they are linked to former English International Ashley Cole. The 35-year old is without a contract at the moment so LA would not need to spend any of their transfer budget to bring him in. Outside of that, no one is really sure what to expect.

Looking at the current Galaxy roster, they need defensive help. Only two playoff teams allowed more goals than LA did last season. Bruce Arena is going to want to find someone to replace Ricketts at keeper and you can bet that it will be a top goalkeeping option by MLS standards. With Gonzales on the move too, you would expect Los Angeles to fill the void with a young central defender. If LA looks for a homegrown player at that spot look for names like Matt Miazga, John Brooks and Matt Hedges to crop up.

With Juninho out of the picture in Los Angeles and Vayrynen gone as well, the midfield is going to need some work. Finding someone to consistently start alongside Gerrard. LA did a lot of mixing and matching in their midfield last season, but down the stretch, you could just about count on Gerrard and Juninho starting.

Whoever LA brings in to replace Juninho will have a huge role to fill. The Brazilian started more games than anyone else last year for the Galaxy. Right behind him was Gonzales. They two were the center pieces of Arena’s starting eleven just about every week. With both of them gone, you can expect to see a very different style Galaxy team shaping up during the next two to three months.

Los Angeles GalaxySometimes, trying to fix was isn’t broken can be a major problem. However, I don’t think that is the case here. Los Angeles is looking to turn the page on their storied history and start a new chapter. A lot of the key players from that 2014 MLS Final victory are gone. Five of the Galaxy’s starting eleven in that championship game no longer don an LA uniform. The strikers have remained the same but everything has experienced a major shake up. LA is gearing up for another title run but also another shot at creating a dynasty. The Galaxy won titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014. LA is not looking to snag just one more title, they are preparing to dominant the league for a few years to come.

Premier League Wishlist: Part 2

Continuing from where we left off, this is what is topping each Premier team’s wishlist as they head into the January transfer window. To see Part 1, click here.

Newcastle UnitedNewcastle United: Left Back
If you want to maintain that you belong in the Premier League, then Paul Dummett cannot be your best option at left back. Massiado Haidara has mixed in with him as well but neither one is ready to be a starting full back in England. The Magpies have allowed the second most goals in the Premier League this season. Some of that can be attributed to the rash of injuries at keeper but the poor play at left back definitely does not help.

Nathaniel RedmondNorwich City: Striker
In their return to the Premier League, Norwich has held their own, but if they plan to stay here they are going to need some attacking help. Youngster Nathaniel Redmond leads the team in scoring at the moment with only four goals. Cameron Jermone is the leading scoring forward with just three. Norwich needs to spend a little bit to bring in a quality goal scorer. In 11 out of 17 matches, Norwich has been held to one or fewer goals. That cannot continue if they want to start thinking about year 2 in the top division.

Morgan SchneiderlinSouthampton: Creative/Controlling Midfielder
To say that Southampton are reeling is a bit of understatement. This team finished just outside of a Euro League spot last year but find themselves in the bottom half this season with a lot of question marks. The departure of both Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin over the summer has left this team starved of creativity and reliability. Infusing a player that can control the pace and create chances will give Southampton the boost they need back into the top half.


Bojan KrkicStoke City: Attacking Midfielder
Go ahead. Try to score against Stoke. It has been nearly impossible to net one against Mark Hughes side this year. That is a credit to the backline and the play of the rising star in Jack Butland Stoke have in between the pipes. Despite that, Stoke are midtable with the worst offense in the league. Scoring only 14 goals in 17 matches is a recipe for disaster. The lack of scoring options on the team is astounding. Stoke only have four players to score for them this season, and they are all strikers. Hughes needs to have someone from the midfield who can pose a threat as a goal scorer to push this team higher up the table.

Billy JonesSunderland: Defender (Any Position)
Sunderland are in danger of relegation. They sit just five points behind Newcastle and Norwich, who are just above the relegation zone, but the Black Cats are going to need some major defensive overhaul to stay up this year. Sunderland has allowed the most goals by any Premier League side this season, almost two per game. John O’Shea is on his last leg and Billy Jones commits a lot of fouls. This team needs to find some new blood to reinvigorate one of the worst backlines in European top division football.

Bafetimbi_GomisSwansea City: Striker
To say Swansea need some more scoring options is an understatement. Andre Ayew and Bafetimbi Gomis have accounted for 11 of Swansea’s 15 Premier League goals this season. As a result, Garry Monk is gone and Swansea is in free fall. Finding a reliable goal scoring option to supplement Ayew and Gomis would stop the bleeding and put Swansea back on track for staying in the Premier League.

TottenhamTottenham: Controlling Midfielder
Spurs reach the halfway point in a Champions League spot with a healthy goal difference. Spurs have only lost twice the whole season but have drawn a league high eight times. If Tottenham want to make a push for the top then they are going to need to control the game a bit more to avoid giving up late goals. They have a tendency of blowing late leads. Finding a midfielder who can hold possession and run with the ball late in games could prove to be the difference maker between Tottenham being good and great.

Troy DeeneyWatford: Keep Deeney and Igahlo
You might even be able to add Etienne Capoue and Nathan Ake to that list. They have been the core that has led Watford to a Europa League spot in their first season back in the top division. To say Watford has been impressive is an understatement. Deeney and Igahlo have been at the center of that. Deeney has scored five goals while setting up four goals. Igahlo has scored a whopping 12 goals and even chipped in two assists. Watford could easily finish in the top half if they can keep their key pieces in place.

Saido BerahinoWest Brom: Goal-scoring option
I doubt they will care where the goals come from but West Brom needs to score more. So far this year, they are averaging a goal per match and the teams leading scorers only have three goals to their names. Saido Berahino hasn’t helped the situation much with his refusal to play at times, especially when you consider that he is one of those players for West Brom to have scored three goals even though he only has eight starts to his name.

Enner ValenciaWest Ham United: Sell Enner Valencia
He played a lot last season but this year, Valencia has failed to work his way into the first team. He has been subbed on four times this season and has failed to make any sort of impact after joining the fray. He notably said that the club had forgotten about him. It is pretty clear that he is not fitting in and he has only scored four goals in his now year and half with the club. If West Ham could find a taker in the vicinity of the £12 million they paid for him last summer, the Hammers could look to improve the midfield and invest in a young defender or two to ensure future success.

 

Premier League Wishlist: Part 1

I’m back! Did you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone? Well just pretend you did and get ready for the Aftermath to resume its normal production of content.

This time of year, millions of kids across the globe are finalizing their Christmas wish lists. With the holiday and subsequently January quickly approaching, The Aftermath is creating a wish list for every Premier League team as the January transfer window gets set to open on New Year’s Day. To see Part 2, click here.

Arsenal CelebrationArsenal: Midfield Maestro
The Gunners were my preseason pick to win the title and they are still right in the thick of the title chase. To make that final push, they need to find a second set up man in the midfield. Mesut Ozil has been incredible this year, setting up 15 goals, the best mark in the league by a significant margin. After that, there is a major drop off to Santi Carzola, who only has three assists on the year. Finding a second reliable set up man for when Ozil needs a rest should be the top of their to do list in January.

Gabriel_Agbonlahor_Aston_VillaAston Villa: Tall Forward
Through the first half of the season, Villa find themselves in the Premier League basement, 10 points away from clearing the relegation zone. Villa might decide to pack it in and get ready for the drop or they might make a push to climb out of the cellar. Assuming they will go for the latter, Aston Villa needs to find a new striker. They have plenty of players that can swing the ball into the middle and give them chances to score but now they need someone who can finish those headers. Rudy Gestede fits that role perfectly but with only three goals in 17 appearances, it looks like they need to find someone who is more reliable.

Matt RitchieBournemouth: First-Team Keeper
The Cherries have had a strong start to the season given that it is their first year in England’s top division. They have a number of areas where they could improve but the most glaring one comes at the back end. Bournemouth have used two keepers so far this season in Artur Boruc and Adam Federici. Federici has been far from relaible, allowing 12 goals in just 5 games. Bournemouth need to find a true first team keeper and push Boruc into a rotation role if they want to stay in the Premier League.

Falcao and WillianChelsea: Clinical Finisher
Raise your hand if you predicted that through 17 games, Chelsea would only be three points clear of relegation. Put your hands down. The Blues are off to their worst start in the last decade and just fired Jose Mourinho. This is a time of change at the club and it should continue with the addition of a new forward. Diego Costa is the leading scorer at Stamford Bridge with just three goals to his name. Falcao once again failed to take hold, Pedro has not had much of an impact yet and Loic Remy has been relegated to a substitute role. Adding a top notch goal scorer, who can create his own chances and work the keeper from outside the box has to be high on Chelsea’s want list.

Yohan_CabayeCrystal Palace: Young Defender
Crystal Palace has already shown they can find good deals in the transfer market after signing Yohan Cabaye for a good price. Cabaye has performed very well and leads the team in scoring. The only thing separating Palace from Champions League football right now is goal difference. If I am Alan Pardew, I want to find a young defender that can learn this year, serving more in a rotation role and develop into a major contributor by the next. The average age of Palace’s back line, is 29 years old. Infusing some youth might not be a bad idea.

Gareth_BarryEverton: Defensive-Minded Midfielder
It is hard to tell where exactly Everton need help. They have played well offensively. Defensively, they have been solid, yet they sit middle of the table. Looking at this team, Everton would do well signing a defensive midfielder. It would give Roberto Martinez another option alongside Gareth Barry and Tom Cleverley. The defensive has room for improvement as well and with plenty of attacking option already in place, bringing in a defensive-minded player should be the next move.

Jamie VardyLeicester City: Not to lose anyone
This sounds kind of lame but with so many rumors linking Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez away from the club, that will be the key to Leicester succeeding. There are some concerns at the back end but with offers bound to come pouring in once the calendar hits January, hanging on to the two star attackers will be the best thing Leicester can wish for.

Raheem SterlingLiverpool: Wide Midfielder
Getting rid of Brendan Rodgers hasn’t helped anything so far. Liverpool needs more than a new manager to fix their shortcomings. Starting that repair process will be centered on finding a wide midfielder. It might seem like a slap in the face but having an attacking winger like Raheem Sterling would likely be a huge boost for the Reds right now, who have struggled to consistently create offense all year. Out of their 17 matches this year, Liverpool have been held to one goal or fewer 12 times.

Sergio AgueroManchester City: Reserve Striker
It is hard to say that City needs a whole lot of improvement heading into the second half but they are six points back of the table leaders by six points. City has been great at scoring this season, but they have hurt whenever Sergio Aguero cannot go. Wilfred Bony has been solid but not consistent enough. Adding another goal scorer to take some spot starts and keep Aguero healthy down the stretch could be the difference for City in their title chase.

Wayne_RooneyManchester United: Forward
The defense for United has been impeccable. They have allowed only 14 goals in 17 games, tied for the second best average in the Premier League. However, the scoring from the Red Devils looks average this season. Juan Mata and Anthony Martial lead the team with four goals apiece. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney is starting to show his age. Adding another player who can man the attacking spot alone up top is imperative for United.