Chip Kelly vs. Bill Belichick: The Difference is Huge
I’d love to say I remember watching every game Bill Walsh coached, but that’s just not accurate. It’s sad, but an 8-year old’s brain can only remember so much. Trying to pass Miss Blackburn’s daily 5-minute math test was more mental effort than I had; there was no way I was going to learn the difference between 22 Z-In or anything in a Bill Walsh playbook.
So, almost anytime the Patriots are on television, I take advantage of watching Bill Belichick run a football team. I read War Room earlier this year, and it was shocking to see how many hours Belichick puts into… well, all things football.
On Monday, I watched the Patriots/Ravens game and it was clear to me the difference between a Belichick-run football team and a Chip Kelly-run team.
Actually, it was just one play that separates a coach like Belichick from everyone else:
Why that play? Simple. We’ll even use Kelly’s own words following his post-game press conference on December 11, 2016.
Q: Did you feel that you guys got too conservative and just tried to hold onto the lead instead of extending it?
A: “Yeah, that’s on me as the play caller but I just really wasn’t confident. You lost [TE] Vance [McDonald]. You lost [WR] Torrey [Smith]. You’ve got two new guys in there on the offensive line." (Source.)
“…but I just really wasn’t confident.”
Ye Gods. A football coach at any level of the game should not ever say that. Yet, that’s the 49ers head coach. Our Fearless Leader. Not confident. He didn’t have the players on the field to win.
Kelly’s made excuses for the poor roster a few different times this season. At first, it was a nice shot across the front office. But now, I find he uses it as an excuse to hobble along the decks of the Pequod holding a play sheet with inside runs and 3-yard pass routes.
I don’t see Belichick complaining about the lack of talent on his roster. Did Belichick question if Shea McClellin could time the snap, jump over the center and block a field goal? No, but Chip Kelly may not have confidence in a player to accomplish that feat. And if that's the case, why bother teaching it?
I wonder if Josh McDaniels didn’t have confidence to have Tom Brady audible for Chris Hogan to run a go-route and beat the entire Ravens secondary for a 79-yard touchdown. Probably not. But Chip Kelly doesn’t have that play on his call sheet because, “That’s just not how we’re built.” (Source.)
In fact, Belichick commented on the lack of depth on his roster this year during his press conference today:
"Well again, I think that's pretty common in the National Football League every week, that there will be a position somewhere along the line that you don't have the type of depth that you'd like to have for that game or within that game. You have to have alternative ways to - well you have to find a way to deal with it - how you're going to back it up or use a different grouping or whatever it happens to be." (Source. Extra credit: while you're there, read everything Belichick said. It's information you'll never hear from Kelly.)
How does Kelly respond to a lack of depth? By complaining:
"I think it’s just as a group offensively we need to be better in a lot of ways, so we’re going to see what we can do and make a move here. It’s really one of the only maneuvers we can make based on our depth, where we are and what we’re doing." (Source.)
Complaint aside, Kelly isn’t going to go into that type of detail on a play, and thinks a 'dirty read' is finding a used Hustler magazine on a construction site.
Throw out any concept that the Patriots have this roster full of men carved from wood by the Football Gods. The Patriots find players to fit the system, coach them to do exactly what’s necessary for that game and they go out and win. This is what Jon Gruden referred to as ‘The Patriot Way’… But, it used to be The 49er Way.
Any good 49ers historian remembers the secondary in 1981, led by Dwight Hicks. Hicks, if it happened to slip your mind, was working at a health foods store when the 49ers signed him. Typically, that’s not where you find talent.
And what happened?
Bill Walsh and his staff developed Hicks into a two-time All-Pro selection (1981, 1984). Hicks helped develop a fearsome secondary, which included future Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott… oh, and we won two Super Bowls with Hicks roaming passing lanes.
Walsh was so precise and so driven; he even prepared to build a team from scab players during the 1987 strike-shortened season. There’s no way Bill Walsh was going to say to the press, “I don’t have confidence in the roster.”
For a moment, don’t think of Trent Baalke’s inability to draft or work the free agent market. Kelly’s staff is not developing players, let alone fostering any kind of talent. Those are two huge strikes against Kelly’s ability to coach a professional football team. Rather, Kelly complains and lets the world know he isn’t confident.
Kelly has no concept, or does not grasp the idea of not playing with high-level talent. No professional football roster is stocked with the greatest players of all time and existence. Even with a poorly built, ACL-blown roster, a coach must develop players and find ways to win.
The 49ers need a total overhaul starting January 2, and it starts by finding a coach with the tenacity of Captain Ahab, propelled by an ivory leg of swagger, brains and confidence.