Younger readers may forget (or not realize) that when Jimmy Johnson took over for aging former innovator Tom Landry, the immediate impact on the Dallas Cowboys was hugely negative.
The 3-13 Cowboys had been bad in Landry's last season, but under Johnson they got even worse, scoring less, giving up more, and somehow winning just one game against the 10-6 Redskins (who finished third in the NFC East that year).
Three years later, they were Su-Su-Super Blrgh -- Super Bowl Charrgggh --
Super ... Bowl ... Champs.
Lots of teams in the modern NFL ping pong back and forth. It's not too hard to cobble together a scenario that sees the Eagles at 10-6 thanks to some injury luck, surprisingly adequate quarterback play and huge mega-leaps from three second-year defenders.
Unfortunately, it's also not all that hard to take aim at Peters' legs and the secondary-that-might-be-historically-terrible and find a scenario that starts by flipping those two numbers and then gets worse.
Should the worst case scenario play out, a line already seems to be forming among NFL commentators to take turns whacking at Chip Kelly as yet another college guy who didn't know what he was in for at the NFL level.
Part of this is the natural parochialism of those inside any large institution. But it's also being driven by an oversimplification of what, exactly, Being Chip Kelly means.
There's an essay in the new Eagles Almanac by someone who has had a very interesting view into the Oregon program the last few years. I'm not going to excerpt any of it here, because frankly it's the best thing in the Almanac and I and the other writers who spent many hours putting that thing together would dearly love for you to go spend the $10 to get your own copy. (Promo code: SeriouslyDudeItsWorthTenDollars.)
We don't need that level of depth, however, to understand that there's more to BCK than "running the zone read" -- which was everyone's starting point -- or "running lots of plays KRAZY fast" -- which is where we are right now.
It's weird, in fact, the standard Kelly's being graded on. No one cares if Gus Bradley revolutionizes the game of football; they just want to see if he can win 10 games. Ditto all the other new guys (with the possible legacy-burnishing/killing exception of Andy Reid).
But if Chip doesn't do something no one's ever seen before, then it will be proof that "his stuff doesn't work." Even though "his stuff" is a very long list that, yes, starts with offensive pace and a counting-the-quarterback-running-game, but also includes innovative physical training methods, innovative individual and team coaching methods, innovative organizational management methods (read the Almanac) and good old-fashioned match-up-based smashmouth football.
We should probably reach back to Jimmy Johnson for one last point. If there's a lingering doubt among the fanbase, it's related to the quarterback position. After all, for as bad as the 1989 Cowboys were, they had future HoFer Troy Aikman taking snaps under center as a rookie. Aren't the Eagles going to be hopelessly behind the curve without The Guy taking his lumps this year?
No, not really, because quarterbacks don't develop the way they used to. One of the arguments people keep making in favor of Nick Foles is how good his rookie stats look against so many of the historical comps. The problem is that the historical comps are obsolete. Quarterbacks no longer come into the NFL having run basic offenses against basic defenses for four years.
The schemes at the highest college levels are in many ways as complex as what we see in the NFL these days, which I believe means that a rookie QB in 2014 is basically starting in the same place as a second-year guy in 1990.
Kelly's even better off than some other NFL coaches. If the Chiefs go 1-15 this year, Andy Reid will draft the best college quarterback and begin the longish process of turning him into Young/Favre/McNabb.
If the Eagles go 1-15, Kelly's new quarterback might already know his system.