Cataldi: Chip Kelly saving Philly sports

Mike Vick
Chip Kelly arrived on the Philadelphia sports scene at exactly the perfect time.

Chip Kelly is the answer to our city’s prayer, a man who follows no rules and suffers no fools. He is a visionary in a city blinded by 53 years of football futility He is the best reason — if not the only reason — to fall back in love with sports right now in Philadelphia.

There is no way to overstate what Kelly did in his NFL debut Monday night against the Washington Redskins because there is no precedent for it. The Eagles coach masterminded a 33-27 victory that instantaneously brought new hope to a fan base ravenous for success.

On a grander scale, it also provided a surge of optimism for a city haunted by the stunning recent failures of the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies — and the assault on our psyches provided by Andrew Bynum, Ilya Bryzgalov and Ruben Amaro, Jr. After so many disappointments, we finally have a winner in town.

What made Kelly’s debut so extraordinary was, well, just about everything — from his hellbent style of running plays to his cocksure strategies to his passionate style on the sideline. Since he arrived here from Oregon eight months ago, he has won over even his biggest critics simply by offering honest answers to simple questions and by working tirelessly to win football games.

I spoke to Kelly 11 hours before his NFL debut and was dumb enough to ask him to share his innermost thoughts about his first game. He snorted an unintelligible response, probably because I was asking him to waste his time. Kelly doesn’t gaze at his belly button and ponder the meaning of life. He’s too busy designing plays and plotting ways to beat the next opponent.

For example, Mike Shanahan is one of the best coaches in the NFL, and he’s got a pair of championship rings to prove it. The Washington coach also had a 15-4 record in opening games during his Hall of Fame career. When given time, no one outsmarts Mike Shanahan. Kelly was aware of none of these facts, of course, so he hung 33 points on the legend in the first 32 minutes of the game.

Kelly is more than just a tactical wizard. He makes everybody around him better. Mike Vick looks like he’s 25 again. LeSean McCoy had the game of his life. DeSean Jackson is not just a deep threat anymore. Mychal Kendricks went from MIA to MVP. Trent Cole is visible again. And every one of them believes in the new coach. They love the guy.

Everybody loves Chip Kelly because he is exactly what we have lacked for more years than we can calculate. He is smarter than the rest, and equal to the task. Even after just one game, there is no denying the new direction he is charting for a city desperate to celebrate a championship in the sport we love the most.

Welcome to Philadelphia, Chip Kelly. You got here just in time.

ESPN insulted Philadelphia fans

 

ESPN owes Philadelphia an apology. The blowhards who work on that overrated TV network need to open next Sunday’s NFL pregame show by acknowledging how insulting they were to the most passionate sports city in America.

For what, you ask? For these reasons and more.

First, for picking the Redskins to throttle the Eagles in the season opener on Monday night. Hey, it’s fine if 17 of their 18 so-called experts chose Washington to beat the Birds. Everybody makes a mistake. But when their own weekly magazine boldly states that the Skins will win by 41-0, well, that’s not a prediction, that’s an indictment. When you’re that wrong, you can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.

Second, for rooting shamelessly for the Redskins while the Eagles were stunning the football world. How many times did we need to hear broadcasters Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden beg Skins quarterback Robert Griffin III to come out of his funk and launch a comeback? They should have been thrilled the Eagles were bringing an excitement to Monday Night Football unlike anything since Dandy Don Meredith and Howard Cosell.

And third, for ignoring their own paid referee analyst, Gerry Austin, who clearly stated that the Eagles got robbed on the first touchdown of the game because the refs erroneously ruled that Mike Vick had thrown a backward pass. If you’re going to employ an expert, why then ignore him when his opinion doesn’t fit your own network bias?

This just in: With rivals at Fox, NBC and CBS looking to topple the sports giant, ESPN needs the Eagles more right now than the Eagles need ESPN. So drop to your knees, boys, and make it good.

Time to fire Dubee

 

Rich Dubee’s obnoxious, incompetent presence on the Phillies has somehow survived the implosion of the team and the recent dismissal of his enabler, former manager Charlie Manuel. Why is the worst pitching coach in baseball still here?

Technically, Dubee is under contract for the rest of this endless season, but that doesn’t mean the Phils have to keep him in place, a lame duck already complicating the life of new skipper Ryne Sandberg. If you haven’t been paying attention (and who is these days?) you missed Dubee’s latest escapade last week.

When Cole Hamels was warming up before his start on Sept. 2, he reported to Dubee that his back was bothering him. Now, anyone with a grain of common sense would have shut down the ace of the staff right there, but Dubee allowed the most important player in the organization to grind through seven innings and 89 pitches that night in a totally meaningless game.

Sandberg knew nothing about the back issue because Dubee chose not to tell the manager. How do we know this? Well, Sandberg was explicit after the game that night in saying there were no health concerns, pointing out repeatedly what Dubee had told him — that Hamels simply “hadn’t warmed up well.”

The next day, Dubee himself openly acknowledged that he knew of Hamels’ back problems before the game. He never explained why he didn’t bother to tell Sandberg. And nobody asked because one more display of the coach’s misplaced arrogance just wasn’t worth the effort.

Charlie Manuel is gone. So can’t we finally be done with Rich Dubee, too?

Idle thoughts from Cataldi
» A few days after cutting Danny Watkins, Eagles GM Howie Roseman finally admitted he was the one who pushed for using a first-round draft pick on the human turnstile. Now you know why Chip Kelly has final say on personnel.

» If you’re looking for the biggest dumbbell of the week, it’s a tie between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Phillies outfielder Dom Brown. Both of these geniuses thought it was a great idea to flaunt their love of the Dallas Cowboys. There is no faster way to get people in Philadelphia to hate you than that.

» Mike Vick has demonstrated brilliantly the role of a team leader throughout the Riley Cooper controversy. The Eagles quarterback has defused the situation at critical times, has mediated effectively  and has served as the one true voice of reason throughout. Bravo.

» The Phillies had a crowd last week — on a perfect night against division rival Washington — of 28,000. A little over a year ago, they were drawing 43,000 every game. How is GM Ruben Amaro going to survive this kind of a business freefall?

» Andy Reid will not go 0-16 this season, but there was some good news in Kansas City’s 28-2 win over Jacksonville. At least Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, the runner-up for the Eagles job, isn’t our problem. His debut was a total embarrassment. Reid will get what’s coming to him when he faces a real coach. In eight days.


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