The stunning news of Chip Kelly joining the Eagles continues a trend we've seen this offseason: offense, offense, offense.
Take one look at the six coaching hires we've seen for the upcoming year and one thing becomes clear: Teams looking for coaches are looking for guys who can boost their offensive production. This isn't breaking news, per se, as the NFL has trended toward an offense-is-most-important league for several years now.
But the group of coaches hired all have a clear-cut offensive background, and that's part of the direction the NFL is headed.
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Kelly was one of (if not the) most coveted coaches in college football, thanks to his dynamic offensive principles dominating the college scene as Kelly took Oregon to four consecutive BCS bowls during his tenure there.
Marc Trestman is a quarterbacks guru the Bears hired to keep Jay Cutler from throwing interceptions and spending 75 percent of gameday on his back. Rob Chudzinski led Cam Newton on the Annexation of Puerto Rico in Carolina and managed to get Derek Anderson in the Pro Bowl (!). Mike McCoy fashioned offenses around Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning; he's now charged with fixing Philip Rivers.
Andy Reid, who has been hired to coach the Chiefs after being fired in Philadelphia, has a history of building up undervalued quarterbacks he took in the draft (and often swindling other teams in trades for those quarterbacks). Doug Marrone, the new coach of the Buffalo Bills, once ran Drew Brees' offense and helped salvage a Syracuse program on life-support with his offensive schemes.
The numbers bear this out. Chicago was 16th in points scored per game in 2012 and 24th in Football Outsiders weighted offensive rank, despite the talented core of Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. Cleveland (24th, 27th) had a lot of youth on offense in 2012 and it showed. San Diego (20th, 23rd) was once a superpower on the offensive end and looked broken for most of 2012. Kansas City (32nd, 31st) was a total train wreck last year. The Bills (21st, 18th) couldn't capitalize on the skills of guys like C.J. Spiller and Stevie Johnson despite Chan Gailey's genius. The Eagles (29th, 22nd) were arguably the biggest disappointment in the NFL.
Sporting a strong defense is a good thing, and teams can do damage with a good defense. But it's offense that produces -- and wins -- in the NFL. Scoring points equates to winning games and winning games equates to making the playoffs.
The remaining two teams have been tied to, for the most part, offensive-minded coaches as well. Jacksonville looks like a good bet to go after 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Arizona's top priority is finding someone to fix their quarterback situation, though defensive coordinator Ray Horton may be too good an in-house candidate to pass up.
Defensive-minded coaches can still work in the NFL. There's no question about that. John Fox, Bill Belichick, Marvin Lewis, Chuck Pagano all made it to the playoffs this year. But they had talent at quarterback and smart guys running their offense, like the aforementioned Mike McCoy in Denver and a trio of guys -- Josh McDaniels, Jay Gruden, Bruce Arians -- who were all hot head-coaching candidates during this offseason.
Even a team with talent on offense -- like the Chiefs, who have Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe -- are lost at sea without a quarterback and/or the proper offensive guidance. Romeo Crennel wasn't saving that sinking ship.
Reid might be able to, though (and yes I'm aware he just got fired) because he's capable of overcoming a situation that doesn't feature a talented quarterback, or, at the very least, capable of properly evaluating the quarterback situation and solving it before he finds himself coin-flipping between Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel once a week.
There's no guarantee of success for new offensive guys. That's because there's no guarantee of success for anyone in the NFL. But it's clear that the new direction for coaching hiring involves the same thing that the new direction for NFL success does: more offense.