Watch Premier League:

Eagles gamble Kelly's mind trumps lack of NFL ties

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- After interviewing 11 different candidates over the course of two weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles hired a new head coach Wednesday, and it ended up being the very first guy they talked to.

From the beginning, University of Oregon coach Chip Kelly was the Eagles' top choice to replace Andy Reid. Owner Jeff Lurie and his three-man search committee spent nine hours interviewing Kelly two weeks ago and offered him the job.

And he turned them down.

But the 49-year-old Kelly, who last year accepted, then rejected the Tampa Bay Bucs' head-coaching job, got word to the Eagles last week that he was having second thoughts about staying in Eugene, and asked if they still were interested in him.

They told him they were.

Leery that he might get cold feet again, they flew Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley into Philadelphia on Tuesday and interviewed him. According to club sources, they were prepared to offer Bradley the job if Kelly didn't take it. But he did.

"Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles," said Lurie. "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, who had a 46-7 record in four seasons as the Ducks' head coach, has no NFL experience. But that didn't seem to worry Lurie or general manager Howie Roseman.

Kelly ran an up-tempo offense at Oregon that averaged 81 plays a game last season. He utilized a lot of the read-option concepts that quarterbacks like Seattle's Russell Wilson and Washington's Robert Griffin III ran this season.

The trouble is, the Eagles don't really have a quarterback that is a good fit for Kelly's scheme.

Rookie Nick Foles, who was the leading candidate to be the 2013 starter, is a pocket passer who can't run the read-option.

Michael Vick could. But he's 32 going on 33, gets hurt a lot and isn't very proficient at running a no-huddle offense.

"Chip's a smart guy. He'll adapt," said ESPN analyst and former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski. "He's a lifer in football. He's a smart guy. He's a visionary. He'll adapt to what it takes to be successful in the NFL."

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick brought Kelly in last year and picked his brain on his no-huddle offense. This year, the Patriots ran a league-high 1,191 plays, or 74.4 per game. They were the only team in the league to average more than 70 plays a game.

Before Lurie started his coaching search, he said he wanted somebody who was capable of putting together a first-rate staff. Kelly's lack of NFL experience could put him at a disadvantage in that respect.

"You've got to have outstanding assistant coaches to be successful in this league," Jaworski said. "Obviously he's not attuned to the pro game. He'll adapt really quick. But where are his assistants going to come from?

"Where is his defensive coordinator coming from? That part will be intriguing to me. Following the guys he brings in."
View Comments (1)