Random acts of football: Subplots to consider as the Eagles prepare for Seattle
I) Coaching college football sucks. It just sucks. The pay is great. So are the fringe benefits. But the job itself? Only a megalomaniac could prefer it to other levels of coaching. That's because you are a full-time coach only 1 day a week. The other 6? You're a politician, a fundraiser, a baby sitter, a judge, a jury, an executioner. It takes a special sort of human being to enjoy that combination. Most of them are running Third World countries.
Maybe Chip Kelly is a megalomaniac. Maybe he secretly harbors the feudal political leanings required to enjoy the kinds of powers a college football overlord possesses. Maybe he really misses being escorted to midfield by a couple of state troopers. But everything we've learned about him thus far suggests that what Kelly enjoys more than anything in the world is coaching football. And the NFL is the one place where a head coach's full-time job is to coach football. Quick, name a successful NFL coach who voluntarily left the league to return to college. I can't, even after spending 15 minutes on Google. That's because it doesn't happen. It just doesn't. Because, again, coaching college football sucks. A college football coach is guaranteed to meet one of three fates: unemployment, burnout or probation. Sometimes all three.
I bring all of this up because we are about to enter football's silly season, when every successful coach is rumored to be going everywhere other than place where he is. Already, there is a report that the University of Florida plans on contacting Kelly to gauge his interest in its head-coaching vacancy. Book it: He has none. Oh, he might sidestep questions designed to quash such notions. He might allow his agent to fuel the speculation from behind the scenes. But everything we are supposed to know about Chip Kelly guarantees us he is right where he belongs.
The legitimate question is whether Kelly decides to leverage a school such as Florida's interest into a consolidation of his power at the helm of the Eagles. Maybe he already has all the power. Maybe he is satisfied with the way things are working on the personnel side of things. Maybe all that's left to do is extend his contract and bump up his annual salary. You can bet that general manager Howie Roseman hopes that is the case. But you can be sure about one thing: Kelly isn't the one in danger of going anywhere.
II) You will hear a lot about Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas this week, but the player who makes the Seahawks defense work is Kam Chancellor. He is the X-factor, and if you are looking for a reason why Seattle looked a bit susceptible during the first couple of months of the season, I'd submit to you the hip and groin injuries the strong safety was battling (he missed a couple of games because of the groin).
If there is an Eagles scout team member with a Seahawks jersey on this week in practice, don't be shocked if it's No. 31. Watch a replay of the Seahawks' dominance in back-to-back wins over Arizona and San Francisco (six points allowed combined), and watch Chancellor dominate from inside the box. For LeSean McCoy to have any sort of success on Sunday, Kelly and his brain trust will have to find ways to take Chancellor out of the play. That might mean using more sets with Darren Sproles and McCoy together to force Chancellor to key on one. In fact, Sproles might be the Eagles' biggest X-factor, as they look to stay in the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs. Sherman and Thomas are excellent players. But Chancellor is the best strong safety in the NFL, and he has played like it over the last 2 weeks.
III) The Eagles are one-point favorites in Vegas, and that's significant, because the last time the Seahawks went off as underdogs in a non-division regular-season game was Week 13 of the 2012 season, when they were three-point 'dogs in Chicago (they won 23-17). This year, they were four-point favorites in San Diego and one-point favorites in Kansas City, both of which they lost outright. The only other teams that have gone off as favorites against the Seahawks since the start of last season are San Francisco (one-point favorites in 2013 and 2014 at home) and Denver (1.5-point favorites in the Super Bowl).