Chip Kelly on building his first Eagles staff

LES BOWEN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Jerry Azzinaro, from Chip Kelly's Oregon staff, is expected to be named the Eagles' defensive-line coach.
LES BOWEN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Jerry Azzinaro, from Chip Kelly's Oregon staff, is expected to be named the Eagles' defensive-line coach.
Posted: January 23, 2013

MOBILE, Ala. - Chip Kelly said he hasn't had time to do much since being named coach of the Eagles last week other than greet his players, watch a little film, and hire some assistant coaches. Which isn't bad, considering Monday was Day 5 of the Kelly era.

The Eagles' brain trust is here for Senior Bowl week, the unofficial start of the draft process, at least for the people who aren't scouts. But Kelly, meeting with reporters following the North team practice at LaddPeebles Stadium, cut off a question about what it was like sitting down with general manager Howie Roseman and talking through the evaluation process.

"I haven't done any of that. I've either been with my players or we've been interviewing candidates for the coaching staff," Kelly said. "Any free time I have - I got in [the office] early this morning before we flew down here to watch some tape on my own. So we haven't had a chance to sit down and do any of that stuff."

As Roseman put it Monday, "This has been a whirlwind for all of us."

Kelly is watching the practices here but he also is trying to complete his staff, including what would seem to be the most crucial hire, the offensive mastermind's defensive coordinator.

"Shutoutability," Kelly said, when asked his most important criterion.

Obviously, Kelly did not have an ideal candidate in mind when he took the job, or that person would be here. He indicated his interviews have been with coaches he doesn't know well, meaning the interview process has to be painstaking.

"How detail-oriented is he? What type of teacher is he? What's his philosophical stance on, not only, 'What do you want to run defensively?' but 'What's your theories on the red zone?' 'How do you feel about third down?' " Kelly said.

"There's a lot more into it than one word can describe. That's why the process takes a little time. Because if you haven't worked with him before and you don't know people who have worked with him that you trust, then it's more of getting a feel for each other."

It would be nice to have the d-coordinator here, obviously; not-quite-official new defensive-line coach Jerry Azzinaro would know whether he should focus on 3-4 guys or 4-3 personnel, for one thing. But Kelly said the coaching fit is more important than the calendar.

"I'm not worried about who we don't get, I'm worried about who we do get," Kelly said. "I wanna make sure that that person is the right fit, because I don't wanna be like, 'God, I wish I'd spent a little bit more time and investigated this.' I've been pretty thorough, unless it's somebody that I've either coached with or had a real good working knowledge of.

"It's been fun. It's talking football, talking philosophies, talking strategy, stuff I love to do. To me, that's not work."

Kelly has made several hires (such as Azzinaro, brought with him from Oregon) that haven't been announced, including former Browns head coach and ex-Eagles quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur as his offensive coordinator. Kelly wants to wait until the staff is complete before he makes those hirings official or talks about the people he has hired, so the very interesting question of how a West Coast disciple such as Shurmur fits a spread-option innovator like Kelly was not explored Monday.

Overall, Kelly said he wants a diverse staff, in terms of approaches and personalities. Asked if his coaches have to think like him, he recoiled.

"Oh, God, no," Kelly said. "I think you need a lot of different personalities . . . You need really, really smart people. You need people that are dedicated, and then sometimes you need people that are just a little bit off, too . . . I think we need to challenge each other . . . but you also have to have an ego enough that at the end of the day, it's us, it's our side of the street. No matter how we get to the final conclusion, when we get to that conclusion, we're all in."

Roseman said recalibrating to draft the kinds of players who might fit what Kelly needs won't be an enormous change for the personnel staff. Roseman noted that Kelly's predecessor, Andy Reid, is planning on going to a 3-4 defense in Kansas City. One implication seemed to be that such a switch had been considered here before Reid was dismissed; Roseman pointed to last year's first-round pick, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, as a player drafted with the idea he could flourish in either front.

"Andy was always talking about versatility," Roseman said. "So in the last year, or 2, we've been talking about getting versatile players. When we have our first meetings in December, we're making sure we talk about them in both schemes on defense, and what they can do in different schemes, so that if we were going to make the transition, we're able to do that more readily."

Juan joins Ravens

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Juan Castillo will be consulting for Baltimore the next 2 weeks and will become the team's running game coordinator next season.

Castillo, the offensive-line coach when Harbaugh was an Eagles assistant, was fired 6 weeks into the 2012 season in his second year as defensive coordinator.

Hire had scandal role

Sitting with the Eagles' scouts at Monday's Senior Bowl weigh-in, wearing an Eagles name tag, was former Oregon assistant director of football operations Josh Gibson.

In the summer of 2011, Gibson was implicated as a key figure in an NCAA investigation that could result in sanctions against the Ducks. Gibson was the main contact at Oregon for Will Lyles, a Houston-based "recruiting consultant" who was paid $25,000 for "information" that reportedly did not meet NCAA recruiting-service standards. The implication has been that Lyles was paid to steer players to Oregon.

Reports from Oregon last weekend said Gibson has been hired by the Eagles, in an unspecified capacity.


Chip Kelly said he got to meet with Michael Vick at NovaCare Friday, and he spoke with Nick Foles over the phone. Kelly said talking to each of his players was a top priority after Thursday's introductory news conference . . . Kelly suggested that given the smaller NFL rosters, longer season and the need to have his team fresh every week, he will not try to bring his distinctive, frantic-paced practices from Oregon to the Eagles. "You have to adjust to the numbers. The Philadelphia Eagles are a football team, not a cross-country team," he said . . . Former Eagles defensive-line coach Jim Washburn, who is expected to join the Lions' staff, watched the South practice, run by the Detroit staff that includes his son Jeremiah, Detroit's offensive-line coach. The Lions run a wide-nine. Washburn had reconstructive shoulder surgery after he was fired. He said he didn't have anything to say about the criticism of his methods and personality that surrounded his departure.

On Twitter: @LesBowen

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