Now that the introduction is in the books, Chip Kelly can focus on filling out his coaching staff.
His most important hire very well could be at defensive coordinator. Kelly indicated Thursday that he’ll be involved with the defense from Monday to Saturday. But on Sunday, he’ll let the coordinator do his job.
“Specifically on gameday, I don’t believe you can have someone micromanage it,” Kelly said. “When I was an offensive coordinator, I was fortunate that the two head coaches that I coached for allowed me to work. We’ll have discussions during the week about where we’re going with things, but on gameday, those guys have to be able to not worry about who is second-guessing them and who is over their shoulder. If I do have to second-guess them, and I do have to look over their shoulder, then I hired the wrong person.”
Some have asked about Alabama’s Kirby Smart as a possible candidate, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network says there’s no truth to that rumor.
One name that’s come up multiple times is Georgia’s Todd Grantham. Grantham has spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator. He was on four different NFL staffs the previous 11 seasons. He coached the Cowboys’ defensive line in 2008 and 2009; was the Browns’ defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2007; the Texans’ defensive line coach from 2002 to 2004; and the Colts’ defensive line coach from 1999 to 2001.
He has a variety of coaching influences, having served under Romeo Crennel in Cleveland, Dom Capers in Houston, Wade Phillips in Dallas and Nick Saban at Michigan State. Grantham also coached under Frank Beamer and Bud Foster at Virginia Tech.
When asked about defensive scheme Thursday, Kelly would not confirm that the team is switching to a 3-4, as many have suggested. And despite the fact that Kelly has no NFL experience, he didn’t sound concerned about needing to get an experienced coordinator in place.
“For me, [my goal is] to put the best staff possible together with the same vision that I have,” Kelly said. “I believe that the value of that is huge, and we all have to understand what our vision is, and how we want this football team to look like, and then coach like that every single day. You have to rely on people that have been there before, and we understand that.”
Kelly could very well be bringing quite a few changes to the Eagles, including up-tempo, unorthodox practices. He’ll have to decide whether he wants veteran coaches who are willing to buy in to his methods, or whether he’d rather have familiar faces who he already knows will buy in.
One intriguing name is Ray Horton. After getting passed over for the Cardinals’ head-coaching job, Horton has been released from his contract, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Horton is expected to sign with the Browns.
Rod Marinelli is out as the Bears’ defensive coordinator and is talking to the Jaguars an the Cowboys, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Crennel and Lovie Smith are also available, although according to some reports, Smith is unlikely to spend this year as a coordinator.