First reported by 97.5 FM The Fanatic and later by ESPN’s Chris Mortenson, the Eagles have hired Chip Kelly.
Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie had Chip Kelly at or near the top of their candidate list to replace Andy Reid, possibly as far back as before Reid was relieved of his duties as Head Coach, and on Wednesday the Eagles got their man.
On Wednesday, the Eagles got their man as the team and Kelly agreed to terms on a contract making the 49 year old the 21st Head Coach in franchise history. The move was first reported by 97.5 FM The Fanatic and later Chris Mortenson of ESPN shortly after noon on Wednesday.
“Chip Kelly will be an outstanding Head Coach for the Philadelphia Eagles,” Lurie said in a statement released by the team. “He has a brilliant football mind, he motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh, energetic approach to our team.”
Kelly is the first Head Coach the Eagles have nabbed straight from the college ranks since Dick Vermeil, and will be formally introduced Thursday at 1:30 at a press conference at the Novacare Complex.
After first meeting with the Eagles in Arizona two days after the Fiesta Bowl and spent nine hours with the coach known as an offensive innovator, the University of Oregon announced shortly thereafter that Kelly would be returning for another season. However, Kelly never announced that decision publicly himself.
The Eagles hiring of Kelly comes as the result of a whirlwind previous 24 hours for the front office.
According to a team source, the Eagles learned of Kelly’s interest in the job as late as 10am Tuesday, in advance of the team’s interview with Seattle Seahawks Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley. Lurie, Roseman and Don Smolenski then went ahead as scheduled with it’s planned meeting with Bradley and it was held at Lurie’s Annenberg Estate lasting upwards of seven hours.
“I don’t think even they have a feeling about where he stands,” A team source said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Oregon, Kelly met with his Oregon Ducks players and addressed the team, informing them of his decision to make the jump to the NFL and Philadelphia before reaching out to the Eagles and finalizing the terms of his contract at around 10 am Wednesday.
Indications are that had Kelly chosen to remain at Oregon, once and for all, Bradley would have been named as the team’s next Head Coach.
It wasn’t to be, though, as Kelly and his innovative offensive schemes that have turned the Ducks into a national power in recent years, are en route to Philadelphia.
It is now clear that Kelly is the embodiment of the type of Head Coach Lurie sought to not only change the culture of the Eagles locker room, but also revamp an offense that averaged just over 17 points per game this season.
One question to ponder, now will be what the Eagles, and Kelly specifically do, to address a defense that was so porous last season that it surrendered 27.8 points per game and underwent dramatic overhauls over the course of the last three seasons.
According to a source close to the situation, the name bantied about most at One Novacare Way is that of University of Georgia Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham.
If Grantham is in fact the Defensive Coordinator in waiting, it would mark the departure of the 4-3 scheme as the Eagles base on defense and an adaptation to the 3-4.
On offense, it remains to be seen if incumbent quarterback Nick Foles possesses the athletic ability to succeed in Kelly’s wide open spread-option attack and if the offensive line is built with the type of personnel that can adapt from Howard Mudd’s tutelage over the past two seasons.
Nevertheless, the Eagles were obviously an attractive landing spot for Kelly as the NCAA is likely to hit Oregon with hefty sanctions due to the program’s connection to a Houston-based trainer and advisor to High School players named Willie Lyles, who collected $25,000 from the school for a “recruiting package” of information.
Before landing their top target, the Eagles pursuit of coaching candidates was broad in scope as the team interviewed Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Kelly, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, Cincinnati’s Jay Gruden, Denver’s Mike McCoy, former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick, former Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith, former Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt, Bradley, and Atlanta’s Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong, before rounding back to their top target.