Pat Shurmur Hire Could Pay off in a Big Way for Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 30:  Head coach Pat Shurmur of the Cleveland Browns looks on from the sideline during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 30, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

For those who feared Chip Kelly would become an autocratic leader in Philadelphia and that such power would doom Kelly and the Eagles in the same way that it arguably prevented this team from winning a championship in the Andy Reid era, Kelly's decision to bring in Pat Shurmur (h/t FOX Sports) to help run his offense is an indication that the new head coach won't force each and every one of his preferences on the Eagles.

While Shurmur's title has yet to be decided, or at least confirmed, we can probably assume that he'll be Kelly's right-hand man when it comes to creating an offensive strategy. What's surprising about the hire, of course, is that Shurmur has a background in the West Coast Offense, while Kelly has experienced his most recent success with the Spread.

Contrary to what you might be reading or hearing elsewhere, the West Coast and the Spread are not polar opposites, and it's a good sign that Kelly is willing to mix it up. He could have hired Chip Kelly clones to ensure that his stamp would be the only one leaving a mark on this offense, but instead, he brought in someone who will offer a fresh and different perspective.

This hire was already promising based on the fact that Shurmur has so much experience: a) at this level and b) coaching quarterbacks.

Kelly's never coached in the NFL. Shurmur has been an NFL head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and tight ends coach. He was actually the one in charge of coaching quarterbacks in Philadelphia during the majority of the Reid era.

So Kelly's challenging himself and admitting that he doesn't have all the answers by bringing in a strong offensive mind with a different philosophical background. And, at the same time, he's giving the team's next franchise quarterback—be it Nick Foles or Geno Smith or John Doe—a great teacher.

"People are trying to paint everybody with one brush," Kelly said recently, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "They're not all tied to just one scheme. You need to have some people that have versatility." 

Kelly also noted, according to CSN Philly's Geoff Mosher, that he borrowed West Coast concepts while running a Spread Offense at New Hampshire and Oregon. Nothing's black and white in the world of X's and O's.

And while Kelly will certainly be calling the plays, input from Shurmur within games could be crucial to preventing the offense from falling into the types of bad habits that Reid's offenses often did. 

Marty Mornhinweg and Doug Peterson weren't far enough away from Reid on the philosophical spectrum, so they weren't there to bring new ideas and to challenge the head coach. They were extensions of Reid, and thus, there was nobody there to stop him when things got out of hand.

So long as Shurmur's in town, Kelly will be less likely to make similar mistakes.