Oregon's Chip Kelly puts his offense on display in Fiesta Bowl

At the Fiesta Bowl, Oregon coach Chip Kelly tosses the ball to a player during warm-ups. Kelly, who has gained acclaim for his offense, is being pursued by the Eagles and other NFL teams.
At the Fiesta Bowl, Oregon coach Chip Kelly tosses the ball to a player during warm-ups. Kelly, who has gained acclaim for his offense, is being pursued by the Eagles and other NFL teams. (AP)
Posted: January 05, 2013

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Everything about Oregon is fast - including the lead it built in Thursday's Fiesta Bowl. The Ducks opened against Kansas State with a 94-yard kick return for a touchdown by De'Anthony Thomas, one of the most dynamic players in the country.

It took 12 seconds.

Then Chip Kelly went for a two-point conversion. Because when you're the Oregon coach, conventional thinking is not always the best way of thinking. That's one of the reasons the 49-year-old is so desired by NFL teams.

There was considerable speculation about whether this would be Kelly's final game wearing an Oregon visor. The Eagles are due to interview Kelly this weekend, according to a league source, although competition from the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills is expected to be fierce.

Oregon fans in the parking lot before the Ducks' 35-17 win wondered aloud whether Kelly would be on an NFL sideline next season. Speaking to a reporter, one fan wondered whether Michael Vick would stay with the Eagles if Kelly took over.

An often-asked question about Kelly's offense is whether it requires a mobile quarterback. However, Kelly spoke Wednesday about adapting to his players.

"The way he adjusts to his personnel, the way he adjusts to what defenses give him, I'm still not bought into this whole, 'This is his offense,' " said Josh Wilcox, an Oregon alumnus who played two seasons in the NFL and is a radio analyst in Portland, Ore. "You can't run that offense in the NFL, but you can do similar things."

 In a TV interview after the game, Kelly credited his team for his success.

"If for some reason some teams want to talk to me, it's because of those players over there," Kelly said. ". . . Any success we've had, it's because of those guys."  

How would the Eagles' personnel adapt to Kelly? Could Nick Foles play for him? Foles would likely struggle in the system that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota used Thursday, but it's not a stretch to imagine his being used the same way Tom Brady is with the New England Patriots, who share similar offensive philosophies with the Ducks.

Kelly is familiar with Foles. He coached against Foles in the Pac-12 and offered high praise of the quarterback last season.

"I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes," Kelly said of Foles after coaching against him in 2011, according to the Tucson Citizen. "Nick is a hell of a football player."

As the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire, Kelly built a prolific passing offense. He called Oregon "a spread-run" team, and its specialty this season has been running the ball.

The Ducks have rushed on more than two thirds of their plays, had four games with more than 400 rushing yards, and feature four players with more than 400 rushing yards this season. The Ducks averaged 6.1 yards per carry in 12 regular-season games, a byproduct of both the space created in the spread and the speed of their players. That could bode well for an Eagles roster that includes LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown.

Mariota is a dual threat who entered Thursday with 2,511 passing yards and 690 rushing yards. He told reporters this week that he must make a decision at the line of scrimmage in 10 to 15 seconds.

Kelly has won with different quarterbacks and different styles. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said Monday that he wants a coach who is ahead of the game, something Kelly is commonly said to be.

"Trends go one way and the other," Kelly said. "I said this a long time ago: If you weren't in the room with Amos Alonzo Stagg and Knute Rockne when they invented this game, you stole from somebody else."

On Friday morning, the question will be where Kelly coaches next - and how fast the decision comes. If it's anything like his teams, it will happen in a hurry.

Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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