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The most talented quarterback Kelly got to work with was a 33-year-old Vick

During Chip Kelly’s up-and-down NFL tenure, he started six quarterbacks across four seasons and two teams.  Nick Foles started 18 games for Kelly’s Eagles, the most of any quarterback; Sam Bradford started 13, Colin Kaepernick 11, Mark Sanchez 10, Michael Vick 6, and Blaine Gabbert 5. If that doesn’t sound like the greatest collection of quarterbacks to you, well, you’re right. Gabbert and Foles were terrible when not coached by Kelly, and Bradford has a career 0.408 winning percentage in games without Kelly.

The other three have winning records without Kelly, but there are other circumstances to consider. Sanchez won 53.2% of his games with the Jets, but his winning percentage in non-Kelly games were heavily inflated by the Jets supporting cast. Vick was 33 years old by the time Kelly came to Philadelphia, with his best days behind him. And Kaepernick? Well, he was on a significant decline before Kelly arrived in San Francisco, and his political stance may have impacted his style of play in 2016.

So how did Kelly’s quarterbacks fare with and without Kelly? Let’s use Foles as an example. In non Kelly-games, he has a career winning percentage of 0.333. He started 18 games for Kelly, so we would have expected him to win 6.0 games with Kelly. Instead, he won 14, meaning he exceeded that total by 8.0 wins. The final column shows each passer’s winning percentage in games coached by Kelly.

QBNon-CK Win%CK GExp WCK WDiffCK Win %
Foles0.333186.014+8.00.778
Vick0.55663.32-1.30.333
Sanchez0.532105.34-1.30.400
Bradford0.408135.36+0.70.462
Kaepernick0.574116.31-5.30.091
Gabbert0.22951.11-0.10.200
Total0.4356327.428+0.60.444

The big outliers on the chart above are Foles and Kaepernick. When analyzing Kelly’s career, it’s worthwhile to figure out what level of talent he was working with at quarterback. To do that, you have to decide how good Foles really was, and how much stock you want to put in his non-Kelly seasons, which were basically as a rookie under Reid in Philadelphia and playing in a talent-deprived Fisher offense with the Rams. For Kaepernick, how good was he by 2016, removed from working with Harbaugh and more talented rosters?

Going 4-6 with Mark Sanchez, 2-4 with a 33-year-old Vick, and 1-4 with Gabbert probably aren’t big indicators of Kelly’s time in the NFL. Ditto a 6-7 year with Bradford, which is basically Bradford’s winning percentage in all years save 2011.

Assuming we never see Kelly coach another game in the NFL, his career will be considered a disappointment. Is that fair?

  • PerfectTrader777

    Totally agree. He had no chance in SF with his roster. To make matters worse on his image, SF stands to be better this and next year due to higher cap spending.

    • Richie

      Yeah, I don’t understand why he was fired from San Francisco. That roster was destined to fail.

      • Josh Sanford

        To your point, Richie, it seems to me like many NFL firings are not very well thought out. Maybe some of them are done in frustration, some to ‘send a signal’ or whatever–but it seems to me like you need to ALWAYS have your sites set on a demonstrably better, and reliably obtainable, alternative coach. But do they ever?

  • Tom

    Man this is a tough one…a disappointment? Well, as your post indicates, his QB’s didn’t do so hot on the other teams they played on, so we can assume he wasn’t getting much help there. How about the rest of the team? Here’s some DVOA rankings:

    2013 PHI #23 defense, #25 special teams
    2014 PHI #10, #1
    2015 PHI #17, #10
    2016 SFO #28, #17

    So it’s not like the other parts of the team were awesome and just the QB stunk. On the other hand, he’s not out there on the field playing, so how much weight do we want to give these numbers.

    It’s hard for us to not be “disappointed” considering his success at Oregon and that first great year with the Eagles. We can give him a break on the QB part, and the other non-offense parts of the team performed about average (overall) with him at the helm.

    So I think it’s a toss-up. Not a disappointment, but certainly not entirely a victim of circumstance either.

    • Whether or not he was a disappointment, I think it’s obvious that he will be viewed as a disappointment by most.

      • Tom

        Agreed. But what’s *your* best guess? Should he have “done better”? With better QB’s, yes, he’d most likely have a better record, but would he have been *great*?

  • Troy Nichols

    Well the fact remains that Kelly was the master of his own destiny in Philly. He basically dismantled the team and made the team worse with his increased control of the team being made GM.

  • sacramento gold miners

    Some coaches are just better suited to college, and Kelly’s system was more effective in the NCAA as well.

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