Eagles target Chip Kelly appears headed to Browns

Posted: January 05, 2013

Is Chip off the block for the Eagles?

The Browns were close to signing Oregon coach Chip Kelly just hours after his Ducks beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, according to an NFL Network report Friday evening.

Still, a source close to the situation said that it was not a done deal and that Kelly could entertain other offers or even return to college. ESPN reported that he was scheduled to meet with the Bills on Friday night and the Eagles on Saturday. The Eagles did not confirm the interview.

The innovative coach was on the Eagles' radar and was believed to be near the top, if not at the top, league sources said. If the NFL Network report turns out to be true, however, the Browns and former Eagles president Joe Banner may have beaten the Birds to the punch.

Both the Eagles and Browns interviewed Bill O'Brien this week, but the Penn State coach told the university that he was staying - after he received a reported $1.3 million raise and more decision-making authority within the athletic department.

So what now for the Eagles?

With O'Brien off the market and reports of Kelly's closing in with another team, have owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman, and team president Don Smolenski whiffed on their top two choices?

The Eagles did announce Friday that they requested and were granted permission to interview Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Both the Colts and Seahawks are playing this weekend, so the Eagles can't interview either until their teams lose or reach the Super Bowl.

As of Friday night, they had only one interview officially scheduled. The Eagles will meet with Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy in Denver on Sunday. McCoy, who was up for the Dolphins job last year, is expected to interview with the Cardinals and Bills on Saturday and the Bears on Sunday.

Aside from O'Brien, the Eagles have already interviewed Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and Falcons special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. Neither is expected to be a serious contender.

Kelly and O'Brien fit the template that Lurie set Monday after he fired Andy Reid. The Eagles owner said that he was looking for a forward-thinking leader, "somebody that really has studied where offenses and defenses are going."

Some NFL teams, including the Patriots, have already borrowed from Kelly's hurry-up, spread offense. O'Brien was one of the architects of New England's two tight-end sets when he was the offensive coordinator there.

Both came with negatives, however. Kelly has never coached in the NFL, and O'Brien's one season at Penn State is his only one as head coach at any level.

Despite Lurie's claim that the Eagles were the "most attractive place for a head coach to work," the early returns suggest that candidates may not feel the same way. The Eagles were scheduled to interview Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, but he accepted a contract extension and canceled the interview.

The Eagles do have a lot going for them - top-notch facilities, a non-meddling owner who isn't cheap, and a large market. They do have some negatives - a question mark at quarterback, a roster that will need significant overhaul, and a GM already in place.

Attractive candidates remain on the market, some of whom the Eagles have yet to be linked to - Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, and Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo.

Arians, 61, is a familiar name to some Philadelphians. He coached Temple from 1983 to 1988 and has spent most of the last 25 years bumping around the NFL as an offensive coordinator.

His latest, and perhaps most fulfilling stop, has been in Indianapolis. Hired to run the Colts offense, Arians spent most of the season as the interim head coach while Chuck Pagano battled leukemia. The Colts went 9-3 under Arians. Pagano returned last month.

Bradley, 46, worked at small colleges for 15 years until Jon Gruden brought him to the Buccaneers in 2006. He worked under famed defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin for three seasons and then headed to Seattle.

Since becoming the Seahawks' defensive coordinator, Bradley's units have gone from 24th and 25th in total defense and points allowed in 2009 to fourth and first this season.

Philadelphia Eagles hire Chip Kelly as next head coach.

Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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