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Andy Reid's weakness may be Chip Kelly's strength

It may not be fair to compare Chip Kelly to Andy Reid. It's just inevitable.

It may not be fair to compare Chip Kelly to Andy Reid. It's just inevitable. (Staff and AP photos)
It may not be fair to compare Chip Kelly to Andy Reid. It's just inevitable. (Staff and AP photos)Read more

It may not be fair to compare Chip Kelly to Andy Reid. It's just inevitable.

Reid was here so long, and came so close to winning a Super Bowl so often, that we're bound to use him as a benchmark. That's why, while I was pondering Kelly's actions so far, Reid's infamous binder suddenly came to mind.

You remember: Way back in the previous century, Reid impressed the Eagles' brain trust with his comprehensive plan for success in the NFL. That plan was contained in a binder Reid had spent years putting together and revising, a notebook that was said to be at least six inches thick.

Kelly doesn't have a binder. That may seem minor, but it may tell us more about his coaching style and chances for success than anything else we know - just as Reid's incredibly detailed plan revealed his strengths and, as it turned out, his limitations.

Reid was very good at the details, at planning and preparation. Good enough to build a team that went to four consecutive NFC championship games. But he was not quite as good at thinking on his feet, at adjusting when his plan didn't work or he was confronted by the unexpected.

From what we've seen so far, Kelly seems more like a pragmatist and a problem solver than a planner. That may make him less prepared than Reid to walk in and implement a successful program right away. But it may make Kelly better suited to dealing with issues as they arise and adjusting to changes.

Reid's binder included detailed plans for offseason camps, for training-camp schedules, for every facet of staff and roster building. He had a list of candidates for every spot on his coaching staff. He knew he would take a quarterback with the second pick of the 1999 draft. He also knew he would bring in a veteran - Doug Pederson, as it turned out - to run the offense and hold the spot until the rookie - Donovan McNabb - was ready.

When Kelly's newly hired staff met with the media, it was striking how many of them didn't know their new boss at all before interviewing with him. Kelly brought a small handful of coaches with him from Oregon. The rest, including vital coordinator positions, were hired based on Kelly's comfort level in the interviews.

Pat Shurmur, the new offensive coordinator, said his duties will include organizing practice schedules. While Kelly has very definite ideas about uptempo drills, Shurmur has two years' experience with the complex work rules contained in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.

When the Eagles decided to commit to Michael Vick for another season, it signaled that Kelly had no grand plan for the most important position. He will work with what he found when he got here and upgrade where and when he can. That has much to do with the options available. Kelly has the fourth pick in a barren draft for elite quarterbacks; Reid had the second pick in a draft filled with QB prospects.

There is no judgment of right and wrong here. Reid had been in the league for seven years and was focused on being prepared for a head coaching opportunity. Kelly had more than enough to keep him busy as the head coach at Oregon. He wasn't sure he even wanted to jump to the NFL until he actually did.

Reid didn't get all of his first choices as assistant coaches. Kelly could strike gold with Shurmur and Bill Davis, just as Reid did with Rod Dowhower, Brad Childress, and Jim Johnson.

If Vick and Dennis Dixon aren't the long-term answers at QB (the guess here is Nick Foles is traded before the draft), maybe the 2014 draft will provide one. Kelly has, and deserves, the luxury of a little time.

Reid was here a very long time. For a generation of Eagles fans, he is the only head coach they remember. He set the bar high but left his successor room at the very top to do better.

There's no way to know whether Kelly can do it. It is clear already, though, that he will take a very different approach.