Why Titans would be a good fit for Chip Kelly

The presence of Marcus Mariota, 3-4 defensive personnel and the 2016 No. 1 overall pick could make Tennessee a good match.

| 10 months ago
(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Why Titans would be a good fit for Chip Kelly

Chip Kelly’s dismissal from the Philadelphia Eagles has opened up an opportunity for a few teams to look at him as their next head coach. Already there has been media speculation about the possibility of Kelly landing with the Niners, who fired coach Jim Tomsula on Sunday, or the Colts, who are expected to part ways with Chuck Pagano, whose contract is up. It wouldn’t be a surprise if chatter emerged about Kelly going to Cleveland, potentially to coach his one-time commitment to Oregon, Johnny Manziel.

But the fit that might make the most sense is the Tennessee Titans. Here are a few reasons why:

1. He’d be reunited with Marcus Mariota

It’s rare for a head-coaching position to come open where there is a young, promising franchise quarterback already in place, but that is the case in Tennessee with 2015 No. 2 overall pick Mariota. (It’ll also be true of Indianapolis with Andrew Luck, if Pagano doesn’t return.) The fit is even more unique in that Kelly was Mariota’s coach at Oregon.

Despite a somewhat inconsistent rookie year, Mariota has shown enough to suggest he’ll be a quality player in the NFL. Mariota finished No. 21 among QBs in both overall and pure passing grade, flashing a lot of ability but also showing a lack of consistency common for a rookie passer.

He struggled downfield in particular, where he was accurate on just 20.4 percent of passes (last in the league) and is one of just two QBs with more picks than TDs at that depth (three and five, respectively). However, Mariota has been above-average under pressure, with an accuracy rate of 67 percent and six TDs compared to just three picks. Although he’s been a little tentative on occasion, taking sacks on 26.2 percent of snaps under pressure (most in the NFL), he’s done well overall with a muddy pocket.

And while the value Kelly places on mobile quarterbacks has been overstated, at least at the NFL level (none of the QBs he brought in were runners, including Sam Bradford, for whom he traded Nick Foles this offseason), Mariota also has the obvious advantage of threatening defenses on the ground, which would improve the effectiveness of Kelly’s read-option.

2. There’s promise on the defensive side of the ball — including ideal personnel for the 3-4

One of the more intriguing aspects of Kelly’s tenure in Philadelphia was his adherence to the two-gap 3-4 his Oregon defense employed, despite the fact that the Eagles’ front seven appeared better-suited for a 4-3 scheme. Kelly is an offensive coach, but he appears to have strict requirements for the scheme of his team’s defense.

The good news in Tennessee is that the Titans have run the 3-4 for a couple of years now. Their front seven has few standout players, but Jurrell Casey is a stud, ranking fourth in the NFL among 3-4 defensive ends, with the third-highest pass-rush grade. DaQuan Jones is an excellent two-down player against the run, and Brian Orakpo is a solid edge rusher (albeit an aging one).

Also, armed with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, the Titans could very well add another star to their defense – possibly in the form of Ohio State lineman Joey Bosa.

The bottom line: The Titans have some solid pieces to work on defense, and they happen to be good fits for Kelly’s previous scheme of choice.

3. Taylor Lewan is a nice building block on the offensive line

The Eagles’ offensive line was a good fit for Kelly. Jason Peters, Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce were all excellent athletes who were good fits in Kelly’s zone-blocking scheme. Even the power plays he likes to run generally require athletic lineman who can get outside and make blocks on the perimeter.

Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan is talented enough to fit Kelly’s style, and while the rest of the offensive line in Tennessee doesn’t project as a great fit (guards Chance Warmack and Jeremiah Poutasi both struggled this season, and are better suited for man-blocking schemes), his presence alone might be enough for Kelly to feel comfortable. For starters, the Titans could very well decide to use that No. 1 overall pick on a tackle, possibly Laremy Tunsil out of Ole Miss, and interior linemen are easier to find later in the draft and on affordable free-agent deals than other positions.

Bottom line

Mariota’s presence alone is enough to make Tennessee a good match for Kelly, but it does appear as though some other current personnel would fit well with what he likes to do. There are much more storied franchises with coaching openings this offseason, but this one might be the most appealing to one of the most popular available coaching candidates.

| Analyst

John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

  • Josh Whealen

    Datone Jones is on the Packers…

    • Dylan

      Da Quan Jones plays for the Titans…

      • Josh Whealen

        The article had a typo that I was merely pointing out for the author. Initially it said “Datone Jones is an excellent two-down player”.

  • Eric Leonard

    …and Freddie Freeman plays for the braves…what’s your point Josh?

    • Josh Whealen

      The article had a typo that I was merely pointing out for the author. Initially it said “Datone Jones is an excellent two-down player”. Forgive me for helping edit silly mistakes for these guys who get paid to write.

  • Eric Leonard

    IDK if I’d want Kelly to come to Tennessee. He is smart, but he’s obviously stubborn and unrealistic. I don’t know how he can justify letting some of the best eagles players sign somewhere else.

    • Cant FixStupid

      That’s why if they do bring him in, they make it clear he is the HC and that is all. He can have his input on players, but the ultimate decision is the GM’s, if he’s cool with that, hire him cause he proved able to coach, just didn’t do a great job as GM, although he did only get 1 rebuild year, and that’s truly just not enough, especially when they went 7-9 in that 1st season. I don’t like his know it all attitude, but I do believe he should have gotten a 2nd year with the roster he built.

      • KAO

        Def should of. Eagles are screwed.

      • Stephen J Brady

        10-6, 10-6 his first two years.

  • crosseyedlemon

    I don’t see Kelly landing another head coaching job in the NFL but he could be hired as an assistant somewhere. Returning to the college ranks where he is probably better suited is also an option.

    • luciano26

      he’s definitely getting hired. Jed York and Jimmy Haslam are borderline retarded.

  • The Mysteries of Bob

    In before someone says because he can’t trade their best players since they barely have any.

    He can’t be a GM, made splashy moves that backfired, but his is a great coach, NFL conservatism will spit another good HC out of the league on back to back years, who needs Harbaugh and Kely when we can get John Fox and Jeff “6 winning seasons in 22 tries” Fisher.

    • Stephen J Brady

      Fox is a thug.

  • Backinmd

    With the material Kelly had in Philly before he traded it away, what makes anyone think he would be a success in Tenn. …Too many Kelly fans think he’s going to be the next Don Shula .. Coaches are supposed to adjust to their players on the roster ,not the other way around .. He misused Murray big time …I remember all the hype when Kelly was hired three years ago ..Also remember all the hype when Steve Spurrier was hired after a great career in Florida by the Redskins …Kelly had the right to trade any player(s) he wanted to since he had full control but he went overboard …Bradford was good in spurts and the Eagles would have won more games he he would have been more consistent …

  • Greg Arnold

    Stick him in Cleveland until he gets his head and *ss wired together, anyone who could take a wealth of talent like the Eagles and destroy in such a cavalier manner needs to get an adjustment.

  • Tim Edell

    IMO Kelly should return to the college game. Systems dont win in the NFL you must adapt to the players you have. He signed Murray to that outrageous contact and had him running horizontally instead of north and south. There were reorts of defenses calling out the plays on a regular basis. Tennessee has the chance to be on the road to improvement but hiring Chip is not the answer!