Chip Kelly Lands In Philly, Addresses Media

Chip Kelly is on Philly soil.

A group of television reporters gathered at Northeast airport Wednesday night as the new Eagles head coach touched down. He stopped and spoke briefly with 6ABC and others before heading to Jeffrey Lurie‘s house with Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski.

“It was really tough,” Kelly said of his decision to leave Oregon. “I left a special, special place. And that’s probably what took me so long to make a decision. The challenge is what I was excited about, and that’s why I came. It’s a great city, it’s an iconic franchise, they’ve got an unbelievable owner. But I left some great people back at Oregon and that was the tough part.

On how the Eagles sold him on the idea: “I was sold on the Eagles the first time I met them. It was just my ties to Oregon. It was a people deal. I have great players there, an unbelievable coaching staff, that’s what made it hard because it’s a human decision. The Eagles are the Eagles. This is the NFL.”

If this is his dream job: “My dream is to just win, and this was the best opportunity for me to win. I never thought a long time ago that I would be able to coach in the NFL. I’m excited about the opportunity. I know there is a rabid fan base here, which is good. I got a text on the plane that I was getting tracked like Santa Claus, which is flattering until I remembered the Philly fans booed Santa Claus. I hope they don’t boo me,” he said with a smile.

The video, courtesy of 6ABC, below.

The Story Behind the Eagles And Chip Kelly

Here is how the Eagles-Chip Kelly union came to pass:

Jeffrey Lurie, Don Smolenski and Howie Roseman met with Kelly on January 5 at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale, Arizona for a lunch that turned into a nine-hour meeting. The Eagles walked away extremely impressed but were notified the next day that Kelly was staying at Oregon.

The following Tuesday, the Eagles were in Nashville to meet with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. That was the site of a college coaches convention and, as it turns out, Chip Kelly was in attendance as well. While at dinner that night, a mutual friend of Roseman and Chip Kelly reached out to say how impressed Kelly was with the Eagles’ brass after his sit-down. Roseman decided to text Kelly in response, and from there the flames were re-kindled.

Casual conversation began to intensify on Saturday while the Eagles were in Atlanta meeting with Gus Bradley. They continued into Sunday and a deal was tentatively struck Tuesday night and finalized Wednesday morning.

According to a source, Chip Kelly and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien were the top two targets heading into the coaching search. O’Brien opted to stay at Penn State. Interestingly enough, Chip never commented publicly after originally deciding to stay at Oregon.

The Eagles were also very impressed with Bradley, and would have offered him the job if Kelly turned them down, I’m told.

Kelly will arrive in Philadelphia Wednesday evening around 6 p.m. and will meet with Lurie, Roseman and Smolenski to talk about, among other things, assembling a coaching staff. A press conference will be held at 1:30 p.m. Thursday to introduce Kelly as head coach.

In terms of power structure, Roseman and Kelly will both have some say on personnel matters. How exactly that is split is expected to be addressed by Lurie Thursday.

 

League Source: Chip Kelly Agrees To Coach Eagles

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 LurieHowie 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.

Ken Whisenhunt Works Into the Mix

Gus Bradley left for Jacksonville this morning without a deal.

That does not guarantee that he will not be the next head coach of the Eagles, but it does open the door to other scenarios.

One name to keep an eye on is Ken Whisenhunt, who  interviewed on Monday. One league source believes it is a two-man race between Whisenhunt and Bradley right now, but really only Jeffrey Lurie knows for sure.

The 50-year old Whisenhunt is coming off six up and down years as head coach of the Cardinals, going 45-51 and 4-2 in the postseason. Arizona made the playoffs in two of his first three seasons at the helm and defeated the Eagles in the NFC Championship during the 2008 season, putting the Cardinals into the Super Bowl for the first time in their history.

The Cardinals have had three winning seasons over the past 28 years, and two came under Whisenhunt. His quarterback situation deteriorated when Kurt Warner hung it up after the 2009 season. Replaced by the likes of Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb and Ryan Lindley, the Cardinals went 5-11, 8-8 and 5-11 over the last three seasons and Whisenhunt was shown the door.

Prior to his stint with the Cardinals, Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator of the Steelers from 2004-06 and helped Pittsburgh capture a Lombardi trophy.

Just how interested are the Eagles? According to a league source, Whisenhunt vaulted ahead of Brian Billick in the Eagles’ pecking order after Monday’s  sit-down.

Billick and Lovie Smith are two names still rattling around as well.

If it is indeed Bradley versus Whisenhunt, then it pits defense against offense, freshness against experience, promise against a known commodity.

Lurie allowed Bradley to leave town. That puts other options back on the table, and Whisenhunt seems to be one of them.

Live Updates: Eagles Coaching Search

This live chat will pull in our latest Tweets. Tim and I will jump in with updates and will answer questions as time allows. Meanwhile, you can all discuss amongst yourselves like you do on gamedays.

Report: Bradley Will Interview With Jaguars

The Eagles are letting Gus Bradley get out of town today.

The Seahawks defensive coordinator will travel to Jacksonville to interview for the Jaguars head-coaching position, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Bradley spent several hours yesterday interviewing with Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski at Lurie’s home. The logical guess was that if the Eagles viewed Bradley as their No. 1 target, they would have worked hard on getting a deal done today, without letting him leave Philadelphia. But that apparently is not happening, which would indicate other candidates are in the mix.

So, where does this leave the Eagles? Bradley shouldn’t be ruled out completely, although the chances of him landing here take a big hit with him leaving town.

Ken Whisenhunt vaulted past Brian Billick in the Eagles’ eyes, sources told McManus. The team has also interviewed Lovie Smith, Mike Nolan and Jay Gruden. But Smith left town to interview with other teams. Nolan has said that he’ll only leave Atlanta for the perfect opportunity. And there’s been little indication that the team considers Jay Gruden a serious candidate.

There’s also the possibility that the search goes on. The Eagles probably would have liked to have a coach in place by the end of the week so that the staff could travel to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. this weekend. But it’s clear that they are going to continue to be thorough. Perhaps a surprise candidate pops up at the last second? Someone who isn’t on anybody’s radar?

There are currently three head-coaching positions available: Philadelphia, Jacksonville and Arizona. The Bears will hire Montreal Alouettes (CFL) coach Marc Trestman, the team announced.

As for the other two openings, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will interview with the Cardinals and the Jaguars, per Albert Breer of NFL Network. Arizona has requested permission to talk to Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians as well. And 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman is also thought to be on Jacksonville’s radar.

We’ll have updates throughout the day so check back early and often.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Will Today Be the Day?

The Eagles’ search for a head coach is not over just yet.

Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was in town Tuesday to meet with Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski. Bradley is the only candidate who’s interviewed a second time, but there’s a caveat. His first interview was brief because Bradley was in the middle of preparing for Seattle’s divisional round matchup against the Falcons.

And so yesterday, everyone got to know each other a little better. Can’t you just picture it? Howie pouring drinks. Jeffrey asking Gus for one more “Do your job!” reenactment. Don wondering if Bradley will show up to the Halloween party dressed as Walter White.

I’m sure a good time was had by all.

But the question now is this: Is Lurie ready to make an offer? That we don’t know – yet.

An answer is likely coming soon (we mean it this time). Bradley is scheduled to travel to Jacksonville today to meet with the Jaguars about their head-coaching position. If he gives Shahid Khan a call and tells him he can’t make it, we know Bradley is probably hanging around Philadelphia to work on hammering out a deal with the Eagles.

But if Bradley gets on the plane, we know Lurie did not consider him a slam dunk. Could he still become the Eagles’ coach? Sure. The odds, however, would go down considerably.

If not Bradley, then who? Lurie said the Eagles’ search would be exhaustive, and it has been. Many names have been crossed off the list for a variety of reasons. Left standing (along with Bradley) are Ken Whisenhunt, Brian Billick, Lovie Smith and Jay Gruden. All have interviewed once with the Eagles. None have found work elsewhere just yet.

And finally, there’s the possibility of a surprise candidate. Lurie surprising us all with a name that comes out of nowhere. Guys like Brian Kelly and Billick were not considered potential candidates when this whole process began. Is there another name we’re all missing?

We’ll find out soon enough, although there’s no guarantee about when the new coach will be announced. At some point today, though, we should find out whether Bradley’s going to be the guy.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Tim’s got details on the Bradley meeting.

From draft buzz to what Andy Reid learned from his time in Philly, here’s what they’re saying about the Eagles.

On our final Birds 24/7 show of the season, we talked about Roseman’s role in the organization and the coaching search. Click here for the podcast links.

Mike McCoy is headed to the Chargers.

Bradley has built up some good will over the years, writes McManus.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

If you don’t find this video amusing, you have no soul.

COMING UP

More of the same. We’ll be all over the coaching search until the Eagles find their man.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Meeting With Gus Bradley Ends

Word came down around 10 o’clock Tuesday night that the Eagles’ meeting with Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley had come to a close. And while fans all around the Delaware Valley awaited a verdict, one has yet to be delivered.

Bradley arrived in Philadelphia around 2:30 Tuesday afternoon and was taken by an Eagles’ employee to meet once again with Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and team president Don Smolenski. If the meeting ended around the time that the media were notified, it could have lasted upwards of seven hours.

While several reports through the day indicated a deal was imminent, sources maintained that no decision had been made and the Eagles were looking at this sit-down as a continuation from Saturday’s interview, which was just a couple hours, given that Bradley and his Seahawks had to play in a divisional playoff game against the Falcons the next day.

Bradley is reportedly scheduled to meet with the Jaguars Wednesday.

Will the Eagles let him leave Philadelphia?

To be determined. This much we know: While the public drumbeat grew louder for the “Gus Bus” to get its own parking spot at One NovaCare Way, the rest of the candidates had not been informed as of late Tuesday night to look elsewhere for work. The Eagles have been publicly tied to 12 candidates during this coaching search. It is altogether possible that they also had some clandestine meetings as well.

Of those 12, Brian Billick, Jay Gruden, Mike Nolan, Ken Whisenhunt, Lovie Smith and Bradley are the only reasonable possibilities in all likelihood. Bruce Arians may have been on that list earlier today, but a league source indicated that he is now off the Eagles’ radar. Nolan has said that he would like to stay in Atlanta, but theoretically that could change.

Whisenhunt was a late addition to the party, interviewing on Monday — the same day as Jay Gruden. He did well enough to vault past Billick, per sources, and is a candidate worth at least keeping an eye on if Bradley turns out not to be the guy. Smith’s name hasn’t been mentioned much since his interview, but he also has not been publicly discounted.

Will it be Bradley? Perhaps a late surprise?

The answer hasn’t revealed itself quite yet.

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The Latest On Bradley And the Coaching Search

It is still very much a possibility that Gus Bradley will become the next head coach of the Eagles. But we are not there yet.

Bradley will be in Philadelphia this afternoon for his second interview, which is being described by a league source as a continuation of the first interview back in Atlanta. That sit-down between Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman, Don Smolenski and Bradley was shorter than they would have liked, given that it was awkwardly scheduled the day before Seattle’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons.

The Seahawks are now out of the postseason running and Bradley is available. He is expected to meet with the Jaguars on Wednesday, though that can always be cancelled if the meeting with the Eagles turns serious.

There have been reports flying around suggesting that it is a done deal between Bradley and the Eagles, but several sources have shot down that notion. One league source said that agents of other potential candidates have not been told that the race is over, and at least one still believes there is open competition.

The team had no other second interviews scheduled as of early Tuesday.

The Eagles met with Jay Gruden and Ken Whisenhunt on Monday. Whisenhunt made a strong case for himself by focusing on his accomplishments, which includes a Super Bowl win as offensive coordinator of the Steelers and Super Bowl appearance as head coach of the Cardinals in less than ideal circumstances. He is now considered ahead of Brian Billick in terms of desirable candidates.

Bruce Arians, meanwhile, is no longer part of the equation. There was a report that the Colts offensive coordinator would interview with the Eagles Tuesday, but the team came out Monday night and said nothing was scheduled. Moments later, the second interview with Bradley was announced for that day. Arians is now considered “off the radar.”

Bradley is very much on it. It might not be a stretch to call him the front-runner, but he’s not at the finish line quite yet.

 

Coaching Buzz: McCoy To Chargers; More Suitors For Bradley?

Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is accepting the San Diego Chargers head-coaching job, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Eagles interviewed McCoy early in the process, but did not appear to be interested in him after the meeting.

There is, however, a domino effect here. The Chargers had interviewed Gus Bradley before the Eagles. He obviously will not be headed to San Diego now. The Jaguars have scheduled an interview with Bradley on Wednesday, according to Schefter. Of course, if the Eagles and Bradley agree to terms today, he’ll never make that trip.

It’s important to see where the chips fall around the league in terms of coordinators also. Assuming McCoy to San Diego, if the Eagles hire Bradley, that would only leave three jobs remaining: Arizona, Jacksonville and Chicago. The Bears are down to three finalists, according to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times: Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Montreal Alouettes (CFL) head coach Marc Trestman.

According to one report, Trestman has interviewed with the Raiders for their offensive coordinator position.

The Cardinals were also interested in McCoy, but now will have to come up with an alternative. That could be defensive coordinator Ray Horton. If Horton doesn’t land the Cardinals head-coaching job, he could stay in Arizona and continue to run the defense. Or he could be available for other teams.

According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, Ken Whisenhunt could end up replacing McCoy as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. Whisenhunt had drawn interest from the Eagles, Bills, Chargers and Browns for their head-coaching gigs.

Lovie Smith interviewed with the Bills, Eagles and Chargers. He, too, may have to settle for a coordinator position if he wants a job in the league next season.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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