Questions Eagles must ask before hiring Oregon coach Chip Kelly

Chip Kelly led Oregon to an 11-1 mark this season and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. He's considered an offensive innovator.
Chip Kelly led Oregon to an 11-1 mark this season and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. He's considered an offensive innovator. (Associated Press)
Posted: December 10, 2012

Get used to the name - Chip Kelly.

Three syllables in all. Chip Kel-ly rolls off the tongue, just like An-dy Reid.

Whether the Eagles hire the University of Oregon coach or not, Kelly's name is likely to be mentioned any time the team's coaching search is discussed.

The rumors connecting the 49-year-old to the Eagles have been out there for some time, but they're growing in intensity with four games left until Reid's expected end.

Around NFL circles - with as many as 10 teams looking for head coaches this offseason - it's become almost a stated fact the Eagles will aggressively pursue Kelly once Reid is fired.

"I don't think it is a secret he is their top choice," one NFL executive said.

A recent report in Pro Football Weekly, albeit with no byline and no context on the source, said that Howie Roseman had already met with Kelly about the job. Whether the Eagles general manager showed bad taste with Reid still employed, he could have met Kelly under the cover of a scouting trip if there was in fact a meeting.

Nonetheless, Roseman's affinity for the innovative offensive mind is well-known around the league, two NFL senior personnel men said.

"The word is that Howie really likes Chip," one senior scout said. "He's not the only one around the league, but if [owner Jeffrey] Lurie likes him, too, I could see them making a strong push after the Fiesta [Bowl]."

Kelly's lack of NFL experience could give the Eagles pause, but if he's their top choice they've likely decided his positives outweigh any negatives.

Lurie will make the final decisions on Reid's future and his replacement. But Roseman will play a key role, not only as an aide to the Eagles owner, but in negotiations with Kelly or any other candidate.

If Kelly is their man, Lurie and Roseman must ask themselves several questions before they put the full press on:

1. Will he even want to come here?

Kelly was offered the Buccaneers job in January but turned it down after a long deliberation. Oregon's continued success this season - the Ducks are 11-1 heading into a Jan. 3 date in the Fiesta Bowl - again has made him a hot commodity.

"It would be an upset if Chip Kelly was not in the NFL next year," ESPN's Adam Schefter said last week.

So the Eagles are likely to have competitors. They don't exactly have an attractive situation at quarterback, but most teams in need of a coach don't. The Eagles do have talent on offense that is likely to draw Kelly's attention.

They also have loyal fans , an always full stadium, and top-notch facilities.

2. Will his offense work in the NFL?

That is the great unknown, as it was with other college coaches who made the jump. But there are enough teams that believe it will for Kelly to get to choose his spot.

The spread offense has been seeping into the NFL for years. A few teams, like the Patriots, have already adapted facets of Kelly's up-tempo scheme. The Redskins, 49ers, and Seahawks have had success running the read option, a component of his scheme, this season.

3. Will the Eagles' personnel fit his scheme?

Nick Foles, if he returns as the starter, would not seem to be the ideal quarterback to run a Kelly offense.

Kelly saw Foles up close when Oregon faced Arizona from 2009 to '11. Foles' Wildcats lost all three meetings, but Kelly came away impressed and lauded the quarterback's play last season.

The two are represented by the same sports management company, Athletes First, and have met. Kelly has never had a prototypical pocket quarterback either at Oregon or before that at New Hampshire.

Michael Vick would make more sense in Kelly's offense, or at least the young Vick. But he's 32, coming off a serious concussion, and unlikely to return at his $16 million salary.

What would likely be alluring to Kelly are the Eagles' skill-position players. Wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Damaris Johnson would seem tailor-made for Kelly's spread.

The possibilities with running backs LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown appear endless. And the Eagles, assuming they get healthy by next season, should have the athletic linemen to keep pace with Kelly's speedy no-huddle.

4. Who will run the defense?

If Kelly were to be hired, his choice for defensive coordinator would be the next most important decision.

The Eagles could only hope Kelly would chose as wisely as the offensive-minded Reid did when he selected veteran Jim Johnson.

Philadelphia Eagles hire Chip Kelly as next head coach.


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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