The Eagles will name Chip Kelly the next head coach of the Eagles, according to a league source. The team has since announced the hiring.
A winding coaching search comes full circle, as the Eagles charged out of the gates in pursuit of the Oregon coach. Kelly ultimately chose a nice bump in pay and the university life over Philadelphia — or so we thought. It is unclear what changed his mind, or how this affects the front office power structure.
Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski took their best shot at Kelly back on January 5, as a scheduled lunch spilled well into the night and lasted some eight hours. Oregon booster and Nike co-founder Phil Knight reportedly made a strong push to keep Kelly with the Ducks, and it looked like it had worked. Not so fast.
“Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles,” said Lurie, as the Eagles made the move official. “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.”
This will be Kelly’s first head coaching job in the NFL.
Last season Kelly originally decided to coach the Bucs before pulling out and returning to Oregon for the 2012 season. What made the situation different this time around is the fact that the program might be facing sanctions from the NCAA. Originally, Kelly chose to stay anyway.
The 49-year-old Kelly served as an assistant at New Hampshire and Johns Hopkins before taking Oregon’s offensive coordinator job in 2007. He was named head coach of the Ducks in ’09. He posted a sterling head coaching record of 46-7 at Oregon. Known as an offensive guru, his up-tempo style of play is said to have influenced the Patriots’ attack on the NFL level. This season, the Ducks averaged 51 points and 550 yards per game. Oregon just capped a 12-1 season with a win over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Eagles were criticized when heavy flirtations with Kelly, Bill O’Brien and Brian Kelly seemingly produced no results. It was questioned whether the Eagles were a desirable destination, and if coaches saw Roseman as a deterrent to joining the club. The teams released a statement saying they had no regrets about their pursuits, and would continue on with their search as planned.
With the college coaches seemingly behind them, the Eagles turned their sights to assistants like Gus Bradley and Jay Gruden, and also met with former head coaches Brian Billick, Lovie Smith and Ken Whisenhunt. Bradley was flown into Philadelphia on Tuesday and met with the Eagles for a second time, but no contract came of it and he left Wednesday morning for an interview in Jacksonville. Still, some believed that it was down to Bradley and Whisenhunt.
There were whispers late Tuesday that a mystery candidate could be in play, and sure enough there was. The Eagles are fond of the element of surprise, and they shocked the region Wednesday by landing the big fish — one that everyone thought had wriggled off the hook days ago.
The Eagles will hold a press conference at. 1:30 on Thursday.