The Philadelphia Eagles dismantled the Chicago Bears last Sunday in a game that meant more in the standings to the Windy City Gridders than Philly. An unheralded second-year quarterback and a solid run game tore the Bears’ defense to shreds. While it was not shocking to see the Eagles win, it was the manner in which they handled the Bears that was surprising. I don’t believe I have ever seen Chicago look so weak on the defensive side of the ball. The numbers bear this out as the Eagles’ 54 points tied the most points ever allowed by a Bear team. I can only imagine what Mike Singletary, Dick Butkus and other Bear greats were thinking.
Here is what I was thinking, Chip Kelly’s teams are innovative and fun to watch. Chip Kelly is the first-year head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. After a successful stint with the University of Oregon, Kelly came to the League to try his up-tempo offense. It seems to be working. The Eagles don’t huddle. They have limited plays that have multiple options based on “reads” by the offensive players. In other words, the Eagles must all be on the same page for this to work. Each play can result in a myriad of options based on what the defense is showing. They confuse defenses.
Chip Kelly left a great job at Oregon to see if his innovative offense could succeed at the highest level. He wanted to test his theories in the Big Show and, thus far, he has succeeded. Not that every game has been an offensive explosion, they have not. The starting quarterback for the Eagles at the beginning of the season was Michael Vick and for some reason he could not stay healthy and did not thrive in this offense. The same cannot be said for the Eagles’ current quarterback, Nick Foles. Foles is orchestrating the offense like it is his personal philharmonic. He is uncommonly accurate and seems to know where to toss the pigskin each play.
The Eagles took a chance on an unproven commodity. Many college coaches have flamed out in their NFL tenures. Many schemes that work at the college level just cannot work in the NFL where players are faster, stronger, and better athletes and where coaches invest all of their time on game planning. When hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line, it is easy to make the safe choice when hiring and go with proven commodities. Eagle owner Jeffrey Lurie made no such choice. He replaced the highly successful Andy Reid with a pioneer from the Pacific 10 Conference.
There is something to be learned here. Most great organizations, agencies, or businesses have had to take significant chances at some point. When you think of Edison or Ford, you think about pioneering innovators who exemplified “out of the box” thinking. This is the kind of forward-thinking that has distinguished America for the past 150 years and continues to fuel worldwide business. Of course, this thinking and pioneering spirit does not come without risks. Most seemingly great, new ideas are not profitable ones. In most cases it was not the idea’s fault. Great ideas often fail because they are thought of by visionaries with little ability to bring them to market.
Greatness comes from offering something new and innovative. It is a result from creating value. We can learn from Chip Kelly and the Eagles. When one looks at the hiring policies of companies, it seems that they are looking for safe hires. They are looking to fill a spot of plug someone in a predetermined role. This is legitimate and solid business thinking. Make sure though, that you leave positions for geniuses and pioneers. You may not win a Super Bowl every year, but you may just strike gold.