Though the letter seemed to come as part of a conversation between the players and coaches, an article published by the Los Angeles Times about the situation on Friday trumped up the matter and made it seem like there was a mutiny with players rebelling against an oppressive coach and athletic program. That’s not at all the case.
Look at how the LA Times publicized their article via Twitter. They framed it as UCLA players “demanding” and saying they “don’t trust” Kelly’s program.
Breaking: UCLA football players are demanding that a “third-party health official” be on hand for all football activities to see that protocols for COVID-19 are followed, saying they don't trust coach Chip Kelly’s program to act in their best interest https://t.co/8fMfHRn1dj
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson shot down that notion, saying there is not a trust issue with Kelly or a time to bash the coach. He said the focus of the letter was on ensuring health protocols that will make the student-athletes more comfortable given the situation.
#1 No one said they didn’t trust coach Kelly #2 Majority of players talked about these demands but only a handful were willing to have there names publicly written
Don’t turn this into a feeding frenzy on Coach, this is about the safety of the program as a whole. https://t.co/5dVnLgulKL
Yahoo’s Pete Thamel says that multiple UCLA players apologized during a team meeting as they did not realize the letter would go public. The players also acknowledged they should have gone to Kelly with their issues.
Source: UCLA team meeting today included apologies from multiple players, as they didn’t realize the letter would go public. Players expressed that they should have gone directly to Chip Kelly with any concerns. 1/3
Further, Thompson-Robinson says Kelly agrees with the health/safety protocol demands from the student-athletes and supports them.
Thamel says UCLA’s athletic department had already addressed all the health concerns, such as providing an independent medical advisor and ability for players to anonymously report health protocol violations. Plus, UCLA’s athletic director assured student-athletes that they would not lose scholarships for not participating in sports given the situation.
The way the entire original story was framed was completely unfair to Kelly and UCLA. Neither the coach nor the school is acting unfairly, unsympathetically, or in a way that is not understanding of the student-athletes’ concerns. In fact, the coach and school seem to be working to help address those matters. Not only that, but the UCLA football player who was a representative on a committee of student-athletes addressing health concerns says all of the issues in the letter were already being addressed prior to the LA Times’ publishing of the article.
Bill Belichick sought advice from another prominent football coach before moving on his team’s third-round selection in this year’s draft.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported this week that the New England Patriots coach called UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, his trusted friend, before trading up to draft Bruins tight end Devin Asiasi at No. 91 overall. Howe adds that Kelly provided Belichick with a “last-minute assurance” about Asiasi.
“His athletic ability for his size, someone that big shouldn’t be that smooth an athlete,” Kelly was quoted as saying about Asiasi. “His versatility is what a lot of teams in the NFL coveted, and obviously Bill saw that himself. The one thing I knew in coaching that league is there aren’t a lot of guys out there, no matter what year it is, who are as big and athletic. The combination of Devin’s size and athletic ability, I knew it was going to make him unique, not just in this class but any class.”
Asiasi, listed at 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, played two seasons for Kelly at UCLA after transferring from Michigan. 2019 was his breakout year, as Asiasi logged 641 receiving yards and four touchdowns (both second on the team).
As for Belichick and Kelly, they are known to be close, so close in fact that Kelly almost ended up in New England after he was fired by San Francisco.
UCLA fans have clearly had it with coach Chip Kelly.
Midway through his second year at the helm, Kelly has gone just 4-14 with the Bruins. That failure has inspired some poor soul to create one of the funniest Craigslist ads you’ll ever see. It offers Kelly for sale “in broken condition,” calling him “broken beyond repair.”
“This antique might still have some value as a fun Christmas present for your ailing, desperate, and gullible football program,” the listing states. “Its previous owners were also dissatisfied with it and we thought it’d need a good home and some TLC. It turns out that it is broken beyond repair, so we are selling AS-IS and for PARTS ONLY. We imagine you can find some workable pieces in here if you are looking for 5-tight-end play designs and are in need of tearing down your roster to its bones.”
The ad jokingly asks for $9 million for Kelly — his reported buyout — and urges interested buyers to contact UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero.
Chip Kelly was known for running an extremely fast-paced offense at Oregon called the “blur.” He emphasized speed and tempo, and he rode that offense to a 46-7 record over four seasons leading the Ducks. Kelly’s success at Oregon helped him land the Philadelphia Eagles job, which lasted for three years, and then he went to San Francisco for a season before being fired.
Now in his second year at UCLA, Kelly is looking much more like the guy who went 8-23 over his final two NFL seasons than the innovative offensive mind at Oregon. His Bruins went 3-9 last year and have begun this season 0-2, which includes the school’s first loss ever to San Diego State. What’s worse is the offense looks nothing like the schemes Kelly ran at Oregon.
So why isn’t Chip running the fast-paced “blur” offense at UCLA? At the open of FOX’s telecast for Saturday night’s Bruins game against the Oklahoma Sooners, analyst Brock Huard explained why.
“(UCLA fans are) getting an offense that’s not explosive. They’re getting an offense that Chip told us yesterday doesn’t have the personnel to play at the tempo and speed I think many of us thought he would.”
There you go. It isn’t necessarily that the blur offense is outdated, it’s that Kelly does not think he has the players to play at that speed.
Beyond not running the blur offense, Kelly just isn’t using his offensive personnel well. Sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was a dual-threat quarterback entering college, yet Kelly hardly uses him as a rushing threat. Kelly was even ripped by Thompson-Robinson’s father last year.
Chip Kelly was supposed to bring the boost that the UCLA program needed, but things look worse than ever after an 0-2 start.
The Bruins lost Saturday to San Diego State for the first time in program history. The crowd for the game was the smallest since 1994, and the school even went as far as to offer complimentary tickets to this Saturday’s game against Oklahoma to season ticket holders who attended the defeat.
UCLA giving away 4 tickets for Oklahoma game to season ticket holders who endured last weekend’s loss to San Diego State pic.twitter.com/Xt23MwqKsD
Kelly on Monday defended his slow start, saying he was trying to grow a program and being reactionary would only prove detrimental.
Chip Kelly on his team: “You don’t tear up the root of the tree to see if it’s growing, you just keep watering it, you keep growing it and doing what you’re supposed to do and that’s what happens over the course of time.”
Chip Kelly: “I think we all live in a society where we want a quick fix and an instant pill, but it doesn’t exist … so you just can’t say right now, ‘Hey, let’s run an entirely new defense and an entirely new offense.’ You do that and you’d probably lose by 1,000.”
Nobody was expecting Kelly to have UCLA playing like his old Oregon Ducks teams this quickly. What they were probably hoping to see was some tangible progress, and an 0-2 start after going 3-9 last season isn’t it. His decision-making has been criticized, and he isn’t showing signs of building a team like he had at Oregon any time soon. It may be that his best years are behind him and the rest of the sport has had time to catch up to the tactics that once made him great.
UCLA’s best offensive player from last season was Josh Kelley, and he was nowhere to be found during the first half of the Bruins’ game against Cincinnati on Thursday night.
Kelley has dealt with a knee injury during training camp. Though he participated in pregame warmups, he did not carry the ball in the first half. Bruins head coach Chip Kelly was asked about Kelley’s status at halftime.
“We haven’t had a lot of snaps. We’re trying to get Josh in. He hadn’t practiced much during the week — we’re not going to put him in harm’s way. We gotta get him loose a little bit,” Kelly told ESPN’s Molly McGrath.
Kelley rushed for 1,243 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He had six 100-yard games and became a true bellcow back, even rushing for 289 yards in a win over rival USC. Without him getting carries, UCLA gave the ball to Demetric Felton.
In addition to Kelley, Kazmeir Allen and Theo Howard were not playing. They were among several starters who were not playing.
#UCLA is playing this game without seven starters: RB Joshua Kelley, WR Theo Howard, LT Alec Anderson, LG Michael Alves, CB Darnay Holmes, LB Tyree Thompson, OLB Keisean Lucier-South.
Chip Kelly had high praise for the fans of UCLA’s opponent this weekend.
On Saturday, Kelly and his Bruins head up to Eugene for a game against a school the UCLA head coach knows well. Kelly, who spent six seasons at Oregon (four as the head coach), will return to Autzen Stadium for a Pac-12 game.
Ahead of the matchup, Kelly was extremely complimentary of Oregon’s fans, calling them a “very educated crowd” and “unbelievable.”
Chip Kelly on Autzen Stadium: "I think they’ve got probably the best home advantage because of the crowd and the setting and the stadium and how loud they can make it. A very educated crowd—know when to cheer and not to cheer. …That crowd’s unbelievable up there."
Kelly is certainly familiar with the crowd there. They supported him as he led the Ducks to a 46-7 record during his time at Oregon. However, this weekend, they will be against him as the Bruins look for just their third win of the season.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has one way to avoid discussing the uncomfortable topic of his father’s critical tweets, and that is to say he didn’t even see them.
The father of the Bruin freshman recently posted a series of critical tweets about head coach Chip Kelly, calling him a “fluke” and essentially blaming him and his playcalls for his son’s shaky performances under center. Kelly has more or less shrugged them off, but Thompson-Robinson told reporters after Friday night’s loss that he had never seen the tweets to begin with.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson said he wasn’t on his phone the last two weeks and didn’t see his dad’s tweets.
Perhaps Thompson-Robinson is being truthful here, but given that his father’s tweets have been a fairly big story, it’s somewhat hard to believe the quarterback wasn’t at least aware of them. Either way, it’s another distracting sideplot in an 0-4 season that is quickly going south.
If Chip Kelly was bothered by the criticism he faced from the father of UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, he certainly did not show it.
Kelly was asked on Tuesday about the criticism from DTR’s father and said he had “no response,” while adding that everyone is entitled to an opinion.
“I have no response. I mean, everybody’s entitled to their opinion; that’s what’s the great thing about sports. When you win, people say good things and when you don’t win, people don’t say good things. That’s life, you know?” Kelly said, via the Los Angeles Times’ Ben Bolch.
Kelly was also asked whether the comments put Dorian in a tough spot. He said that was a question for the quarterback to answer, and added that he enjoys coaching the QB.
Chip Kelly, asked if DTR's father's comments put QB in tough spot: "That’s a question you should ask Dorian. I don’t speak for other people. I love Dorian; Dorian’s awesome to coach. If he makes a mistake, it’s a one-time mistake. I’ve said that about 100 times about him so far."
Kelly is in his first season as UCLA’s head coach, and the season has gone terribly. The team is 0-3 and in danger of experiencing one of the worst seasons in school history. Graduate transfer quarterback Wilton Speight suffered a back injury in the opener against Cincinnati, leading UCLA to go with Thompson-Robinson, a true freshman.
Thompson-Robinson, who was a highly-ranked recruit coming out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, has served as the Bruins’ quarterback since Speight got hurt, and he has not performed well. He has completed 54.7 percent of his passes for 522 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while rushing for 21 yards. Thompson-Robinson has struggled with his accuracy and command of the offense and has looked very much like an inexperienced true freshman.
After the Bruins got blasted 38-14 at home by Fresno State, a game in which DTR completed just 10 of 24 passes and was even off the mark on some of the passes he did complete, his father criticized Kelly via Twitter.
He is speaking on and about the factual… It is all about the coaching, lousy coaching and play calling… Coaching that is so bad that it demands closed practices… Million dollar coach who bares no responsibility… Just random observations from a frustrated dad!
Yes, that’s Robinson calling Kelly’s time at Oregon a “fluke,” even though Kelly was 46-7 over four seasons and went to four straight BCS games there. That is consistent top-notch performance and very much the opposite of a fluke. As for the “duped” claim, Thompson-Robinson was recruited by previous Bruins coach Jim Mora, but stood by his commitment to the school even after the change to Kelly.
Robinson should realize how lucky his son is to have an opportunity to start as a true freshman for a major program and to play for such an accomplished coach. The tweets come across as nothing more than the selfish, bitter rantings of a frustrated father who is blaming the coach for everything and not assigning any responsibility to his son, who has not played well.
Robinson is doing himself and his son no favors with his comments. If he’s trying to follow in LaVar Ball’s footsteps, he should rethink his strategy.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly is waiting to name a starting quarterback going forward.
Kelly said Monday that he’s waiting to see who practices best ahead of the Bruins’ game against Fresno State, with Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Wilton Speight in contention.
Chip Kelly said he needs to see who practices this week before naming a starting quarterback against Fresno State. When I asked him if there was any temptation to to just grow with Dorian Thompson-Robinson going forward, he said, "Nope. Our temptation is to beat Fresno."
Speight was named the starter prior to the season, but was knocked out of the season opener with a back injury and hasn’t played since. He’s apparently healthy enough to merit consideration to start, but Thompson-Robinson hasn’t been awful, throwing for 254 yards and a touchdown in a loss at Oklahoma. Kelly wants to assess both before deciding who will face Fresno State in what he hopes will be his first win as Bruins coach.