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.

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.

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.

 

Some Thoughts On the Howie Roseman Debate

Jason La Canfora went after Howie Roseman pretty hard in his latest piece for CBS Sports, portraying the 37-year-old as a shaky general manager who is impeding  the Eagles’ quest to find a quality head coach.

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me one esteemed coach or another advised one of the Eagles’ top candidates not to take the job precisely because of Roseman’s presence there. Roseman isn’t the general manager they should tie their wagon to. It’s clear Chip Kelly wasn’t leaving Oregon for anywhere unless he had a large measure of control over the organization, and owner Jeffrey Lurie has already entrusted that to Roseman. There has been trepidation by some candidates to go all-in given the questions about this existing power structure.

The rumblings about Roseman lacking nuance and foresight, about him turning people off with how drunk with power he’s become, only grow louder as his coaching search grows stranger.

This is not the first time that Roseman has been described as a potential hindrance. When the Eagles were flirting with Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, the Harriburg Patriot News suggested that the former Patriots offensive coordinator may not be fond of the idea of coming to Philadelphia because Roseman is held in “low regard” by Bill Belichick.

There is enough smoke to suggest at the very least that Roseman is not universally admired across the NFL. It is also possible that the Roseman detractors are a very small group with a very loud voice. If an executive wanted to grind an ax, say, he would be able to plant enough seeds in the media to have several stories sprout up.

If the Eagles are having a difficult time finding a desirable candidate who wants the gig, it likely has more to do with the power structure and the quarterback situation than it does Roseman. If Chip Kelly or O’Brien wanted full control over personnel, they would not find it in Philadelphia. Where the Chiefs were willing to cut ties with Scott Pioli to land Andy Reid, Jeffrey Lurie does not appear all that flexible when it comes to his general manager situation; he wants Roseman here, and he wants him to have significant sway.

That, plus the cloudiness at the quarterback position, is enough to shrink the pool.

Peter King believes that some of the bloom is off the Eagles’ rose:

I understand the vagaries of college coaches interviewing for jobs, and how some of them (most, maybe) want to use the interviews to better their lots in college. But the Eagles have averaged 10.4 wins a year, with nine playoff appearances since the turn of the century. That’s about as good as it gets, aside from the Super Bowl drought, in a highly competitive league. But now, this could be a team trending downward.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a club statement: “There is no question we spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking at who we thought were the best collegiate candidates for our head coaching job. We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts. We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction and we will continue to proceed as planned in our search.”

Fine. But would three premier college coaches say no to the Steelers? The Giants? The Packers? Don’t think so.

To find the Eagles job desirable, you have to crave the challenge of following Reid; you must be motivated by the idea of  identifying and grooming a QB while building the franchise back up; you have to be dying to ride the roller coaster with a rabid fan base. And you must find the power structure appealing.

It  is not for everyone. That is true whether Roseman is the GM or not.

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Report: Brian Billick Interviewed With Eagles

The Eagles interviewed Brian Billick on Monday and consider the former Ravens coach one of  the leading candidates, per Reuben Frank of CSN Philly.

According to Jason LaCanfora, the meeting lasted eight hours and the Eagles left “very impressed.”

Billick, currently an analyst for Fox, has been out of the game since 2007. The 58-year-old compiled a record of 80-64 in nine seasons as head coach of the Ravens, which included a Super Bowl championship in 2000.

The Ravens made it back to the playoffs three more times under Billick but never got past the divisional round. He was replaced by John Harbaugh following a 5-11 season in ’07.

Billick served as offensive coordinator of the Vikings from 1994-98. While offense was his specialty, it was the Baltimore defense that carried the team during much of his tenure.

Billick has been a staunch defender of Andy Reid’s, and has maintained that the Eagles will not find a coach better than him. He took his argument to another level back in late December with Mike Missanelli.

“There are going to be some excellent candidates for the Philadelphia Eagles job that have all the right credentials…the guy you get — and he may very well be exactly what the Eagles need — I’m telling you that with all that success, I’m telling you that at the end of the day, however you want to measure it, he’s not going to be play-for-play, game plan for game plan, evaluation for evaluation, a better coach over a 14-year period of time than Andy Reid,” Billick said. “He may have two or three or four Super Bowls and if that’s the outcome he should be admired for it, but I’m telling you that as someone who measures that on a daily basis that [he won’t be better than Reid.]”

Now, there appears to be a chance that he could be the successor.

The Eagles promised to leave “no stone unturned” at the onset, and have stayed true to their word. It appears that they are in a new phase of the coaching search after early pursuit of college coaches Chip Kelly, Bill O’Brien and most recently, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly.

“There is no question we spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking at who we thought were the best collegiate candidates for our head coaching job. We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts,” the Eagles said in a statement. “We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction and we will continue to proceed as planned in our search.”

Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski are scheduled to meet with Jay Gruden on Monday and Bruce Arians on Tuesday. On Saturday they sat down with Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who is reportedly a leading candidate for the job.

With all the focus on the top assistants and college coaches, it looks like they snuck in an interview with Billick as well.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Pressure Is On Now

The Eagles’ game plan heading into this coaching search now seems pretty obvious.

They were going to swing and swing hard at some of the big name college coaches early, and see if they couldn’t land a Kelly or an O’Brien or any collegiate coach with an Irish last name and some sizzle. There was an inherent risk in this strategy: such a pursuit will draw headlines, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to lure these guys out of some of the top programs in the country. Come up empty, and your quest will look like a failure.

After Brian Kelly became the third coach to deny their advances, the Eagles have to be stinging a bit. It has undoubtedly served as a reality check  that, while this is certainly a good job, it might not be as desirable as Jeffrey Lurie made it out to be when he called it “the most attractive place for a head coach to work in the National Football League.”

That said, they knew that striking out was a possibility, as evidenced by the number of interviews they have conducted or will conduct in the coming days. It might be Plan B, but there is a plan in place.

The trick now is to get one of the targeted assistants to say, “Yes.”  And the pool is dwindling.

Bruce Arians, slated to meet with the Eagles Tuesday, reportedly favors San Diego as a landing spot. Jay Gruden, interviewing with the Eagles Monday, has a few suitors and does not sound in a hurry to leave Cincinnati in the first place. Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong  don’t appear to be moving the meter. A couple reporters have suggested that the interview with Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy did not go all that well; and Lovie Smith might have a tough time convincing Lurie that he can cure what ails the Eagles’ offense.

That seems to leave Gus Bradley as the most desirable/realistic candidate. His name is playing well in Philadelphia, he’s extremely well-respected by his peers, and his coaching acumen and personality appear to fit the bill.

But with a total of five openings across the NFL, who is to say they can land him?

Losing out on the college coaches is not the end of the world. But now the pressure is on.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil with some details on Kelly’s decision to stay at Notre Dame.

The Eagles reportedly reached out to Bill Cowher about their coaching vacancy.

Kapadia details how the Eagles will have to proceed if they want to further pursue Bradley.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Paul Domowitch caught up with Monte Kiffin, who is very high on Bradley:

“I try not to exaggerate,” Kiffin, who once called Bradley a once-in-a-lifetime coach, told the Daily News in a telephone interview last week. “But this guy is good.

“I’ve told people I’ve talked to in the last week or so, if you interview him, there’s a good chance you’ll hire him. He’ll walk in [to the interview] and take over the room.”

Arians talked about his future with USA Today:

“I have a great job. I love it here so much,” Arians said. “I’ve never been treated with more respect in my career than I have here, so it would be hard to leave.

“It’s going to have to be a perfect fit for me to leave, but you always want to win one of those Super Bowls on your own.”

Irsay wouldn’t disclose how much he’s paying Arians as coordinator, but said he’s offered him a sizable six-figure increase to remain with the Colts.

“You want to have him here,” Irsay said, “but if he has an opportunity to be a head coach, it’s hard to stop that. Money can’t really stop that.”

COMING UP

Phase III of the coaching search. We’ll keep you up to speed.

Report: Eagles ‘Going All In’ On Brian Kelly

The Eagles are “going all in” on Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, according to a report.

Pro Football Talk, citing a source, says that the Eagles want Kelly to be their next head coach.

And if the Eagles don’t get Kelly, there’s a sense that they won’t quite know where to turn next.

One logical choice seems to be Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who is interviewing with the Eagles Saturday.

But Jeffrey Lurie has made it pretty clear through his actions that he sees value on the collegiate level. The team brass has shown interest in Oregon’s Chip Kelly, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and Syracuse’s Doug Marrone, now in Buffalo.

“I think the NFL right now tends to borrow more from college than the other way around,” said Lurie following his press conference last  week. “But I think it’s more about leadership. Some of these coaches in college are outstanding leaders. And they just go from a younger roster to a slightly older roster — still the average age is, what 26, 27, 25 in the NFL? They are dealing with 19, 20 year-olds. It’s not that big of a difference.

“There’s  no question, and I’m not the only on who thinks that college coaches are well-trained and have experienced tremendous pressure, and can handle it. And they’re smart.”

Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune reports that Kelly was not out of the country, as has been reported, but rather went from Miami to Nashville for a vacation, and is now in Connecticut to attend the Walter Camp dinner. Over the last several days, Kelly has been talking with “NFL people” to get a sense of the differences between college and the pros.

The conversations with NFL folks have been set up via Kelly’s camp and began before his interview with the Eagles last week, but a league source told the Tribune they continued into the weekend. It doesn’t preclude Kelly’s return to Notre Dame at all, but it suggests more than a passing fancy with the idea of coaching at the next level.

The Eagles, according to a report, are expected to meet with Kelly for a second time. Assuming he gets an offer, the Fighting Irish coach is expected to make a decision fairly quickly.

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The Latest On Bruce Arians

Bruce Arians is expected to be released from the hospital “any moment” after being treated for an inner-ear infection, his agent  Mike Brown told Birds 24/7 late Monday morning.

Arians, who stepped in for Chuck Pagano and guided the Colts to an 11-5 record this season, got sick this week and was forced to miss Sunday’s 24-9 playoff loss to the Ravens.

The Eagles have requested permission to interview the Colts offensive coordinator but had yet to reach out to the Arians camp to set up an interview time as of early Monday, according to Brown. Arians is expected to be back in Indianapolis by this evening and will likely sit down on Tuesday and go over the list of interested teams to formulate a plan. The anticipation is that the interview process will be “in full swing” by Thursday.

One NFL team has already tentatively scheduled a meeting with Arians, per a source, and San Diego and Cleveland are expected to put in formal requests. The Bears are also reportedly interested.

The Eagles have moved on after Chip Kelly opted to stay at Oregon. They met with Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy for several hours in Denver Sunday and have since flown back to Philadelphia. They plan to meet with Arians and Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, and have also put in a request to speak with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

Arians has experience working with young quarterbacks. He’s helped Andrew Luck along as a rookie and worked with Ben Roethlisberger from 2007-2011, a run that included a Super Bowl win and another Super Bowl appearance. He has Philadelphia roots too, having served as the head coach at Temple from 1983 to 1988. Arians, 60, has never been an NFL head coach before.

Check out our coaching tracker for all the latest.

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Podcast: Birds 24/7 Radio

A special edition of Birds 24/7 radio as Sheil and Tim dive into the important questions regarding the Eagles coaching search. Plus, reaction to Jeremiah Trotter‘s candid remarks about Andy Reid.

Click here to listen online and here to download.

Birds 24/7 Radio broadcasts live at Smith’s (19th and Chestnut) on Mondays from 6 to 7 p.m. on 97.5 The Fanatic.

Chip Kelly Vs. Mike McCoy

The Eagles are expected to  interview Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy over the weekend. That will likely not be the end of their search. Jeffrey Lurie has promised a thorough process, and there are several assistant coaches involved in the postseason that they will likely want to sit down with.

But McCoy and Kelly are two hot names and both could very well end up with NFL head coaching jobs over the next couple weeks. One may even land in Philadelphia. Let’s examine the two side-by-side.

MIKE MCCOY

AGE: 40

BIO: This is McCoy’s fourth season as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. The first two seasons he helped Kyle Orton throw for over 3,500 yards. Last season he adjusted the offense completely to fit Tim Tebow‘s skill set and ran a version of the read-option that has since become an en vogue style. Now he is blessed with Peyton Manning. Before Denver, he spent nine years as an assistant with the Panthers working largely with quarterbacks. He helped Jake Delhomme reach the Pro Bowl in 2005.

QUESTIONS: He is obviously a quality offensive mind, but what kind of leader is he? What would his staff look like? Would he fit and thrive in an environment like Philadelphia? Does the fact that he has never been a head coach on any level hurt him?

WHAT HE SAYS: “That’s our job as a football coach is to take advantage of your talent,” McCoy said. “That is the No. 1 job I have here to make sure that we evaluate the guys properly during the offseason and training camp and find out what we do best as an offense…It doesn’t matter who the 11 guys are. If someone goes down, someone comes up and we’ve got to make adjustments as a coaching staff and as players to figure out, what do we do best as an organization? That’s our job.”

WHAT THEY SAY: “I tell you, he’s a worker. We spend a lot of hours together – early mornings, late nights – trying to get kind of our plan in place for what kind of offense we were going to be,” Peyton Manning said. “There is no substitute for work ethic, and Mike certainly has that. … In my opinion, he deserves a shot at one of these head coaching jobs.”

CHIP KELLY

AGE: 49

BIO: 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 has 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.

QUESTIONS: Is Kelly’s offense a gimmick that wouldn’t translate to the NFL? Or is it the future? Is he willing to adapt to the personnel on his club or would you need to overhaul the roster? After stints in New Hampshire and Oregon, is he ready for the Philly pressure? Will his lack of NFL experience hinder him?

WHAT HE SAYS: “It’s more a fact-finding mission, finding out if it fits or doesn’t fit,” Kelly said of the upcoming interviews. “I’ve been in one interview in my life for the National Football League, and that was a year ago. I don’t really have any preconceived notions about it. I think that’s what this deal is all about for me. It’s not going to affect us in terms of we’re not on the road (recruiting). I’ll get an opportunity if people do call, see where they are. I want to get it wrapped up quickly and figure out where I’m going to be.”

WHAT THEY SAY: “I was interested to hear how he did it,” said Bill Belichick of the no-huddle. “I would say he expanded it to a different level and it was very interesting to understand what he was doing. Certainly I’ve learned a lot from talking to Chip about his experiences with it and how he does it and his procedure and all that.”

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