Eagles Players Talk Chip Kelly

There are a bunch of questions when it comes to Chip Kelly as a potential fit for the Eagles, not the least of which is how his style would match the Eagles’ current quarterback situation.

While the eventual head coach will have to be consulted, the Eagles sound ready to move on from Michael Vick. And from what I can gather, Vick is more than ready to move on from the Eagles. That leaves Nick Foles for the moment. Jeffrey Lurie in particular sounds high on the young signal-caller, and it was suggested that Foles will have every opportunity to compete for the starting job.

But Kelly’s system at Oregon is not a match for what Foles brings to the table.

“I think you know the answer — I have never ran the zone read; I’m more of a dropback [QB], but I’ve been under center, I’ve been in the gun,” said Foles. “If I can adapt I want to, but I’m not a zone read quarterback. Some people are gifted with different things, that’s just not one of my skill sets. I mean I can work on my speed in the offseason and get better at that, but I’ve always been a dropback in the pocket, been able to make plays on my feet, throwing the ball or running for a first down.”

A Kelly/Foles union could not work unless Kelly is willing to adjust his approach. On Wednesday, he suggested that he is open to change. From the Daily News:

“Anything you do has to be personnel-driven. You’ve gotta be able to adapt to the personnel that you have. There’s a lot of great offenses out there, but does it fit with the personnel you have? I think the key is being sure what you’re doing is giving your players the chance to be successful.”

It has been noted that Kelly helped influence how the Patriots run their offense. Obviously Tom Brady is not fleet-footed, so that offers some hope that Kelly can adjust to the situation.

“Nick can’t run the option?” joked Casey Matthews, who played for two years under Kelly at Oregon. The Eagles linebacker became a popular man at the end of the season as reporters searched for nuggets on his old college coach. Matthews has the unique perspective of being a defensive player under Kelly, and being on the other side of the fast-pace, no-huddle offensive approach that Kelly deploys.

“It was tough,” said Matthews. “Especially in practice, he’s going full speed, no-huddle. You never have to condition because practices are conditioning. I think it could work. Obviously it would be a change — we would be going fast-tempo, and a lot of these guys aren’t used to that.”

Oregon runs what Matthews described as a hybrid 3-4 under Kelly with a heavy emphasis on sending pressure. Was Kelly hands-on with the defense?

“Tried to be,” said Matthews. “At first he was strictly with the offense then he started to come over and talking  to the defense. He knew what we were doing — obviously as a head coach he should know — but he would come over and at first it was kind of weird, he would come over and start talking about what you need to do, but he did a good job of knowing the game plan.”

Matthews indicated that Kelly, a New England native, wants to end up back on the East Coast and would have no issue operating in a big media market like Philadelphia. He also believes the players would enjoy working under him.

“He is a players coach. He can relate you,” said Matthews. “He is always up-tempo, you listen to music at practice, stuff like that. He was a fun coach to play for. He’s a great motivator and I think players really respect him. He’s very feisty, and he’s just a fun guy to play for.”

Even if he’s a little different.

“When you walk by his office it is completely dark. He’s pretty quiet,” said Matthews. “But when you talk to him he’ll crack jokes, at practice he’s always running around. He’s not a scream type of guy but he’ll get on you. He’s very passionate about what he does.”

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Coaching Buzz: Reid Visiting With KC; Koetter Staying Put

Multiple reports Tuesday suggested that it was a near certainty that Andy Reid would end up in Arizona. Now Kansas City appears in play.

According to Chris Mortensen, Reid will sit down with the Chiefs brass Wednesday before flying out to the desert to meet with the Cardinals. More on the potential Chiefs/Reid marriage from PFT.

The Chiefs still haven’t decided what they’ll do with General Manager Scott Pioli. Reid has no history with Pioli, but Pioli does have a history working as a personnel man for a coach who enjoyed a similar level of control to what Reid had in Philadelphia. In New England, Pioli concentrated on a smaller portfolio while Bill Belichick ran the lion’s share of the football operations.

Speaking of Belichick, David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot News says that the Patriots’ head coach does not think fondly of Howie Roseman, which could hurt the Eagles’ chances of landing Bill O’Brien.

I’ve been told that the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals plan to interview him and that the Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie is in particular very intrigued.

A potential sticking point for O’Brien regarding the Eagles job could be their new general manager Howie Roseman. The club’s 37-year-old salary cap guru is known to be held in low regard by O’Brien’s mentor, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, and by another strong O’Brien contact, former Broncos head coach and Patriots assistant Josh McDaniels.

O’Brien served as an assistant coach in New England from 2007-11 before taking the Penn State job.

Finally, it looks like you can scratch Dirk Koetter off the list of potential head coaching candidates.


The Eagles are slated to interview Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and  special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong . They were supposed to meet with Koetter as well.

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Coaching Buzz: A Deeper Look At Mike Nolan

Mike Nolan is a football lifer. He was a ballboy for the 49ers growing up when his father, Dick Nolan, was head coach in San Francisco during the late 60’s and early 70’s. He has been in the NFL coaching ranks for 25 years, and has served as defensive coordinator for seven different teams.

His resume is impressive, minus his four years as head coach of the 49ers. He took over that job in 2005 and was fired  seven weeks into the 2008 season, compiling an 18-37 record (.327) in that time. Given his childhood ties to the organization, it had to have been a difficult pill to swallow.

Now 53 and in the midst of a successful stint as DC for the Falcons, Nolan is hoping to get another shot. The Eagles will be interviewing him this week for their head-coach opening along with Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong.

Dan Reeves, who has known Nolan for much of his life and gave him his first coaching job in the NFL, believes that he is as good of a candidate as there is on the market.

“I know that he would love to have the opportunity again,” said Reeves, who was a player with the Cowboys back when Dick Nolan was DC in Dallas. “I don’t think anybody has done a better job than Mike has.”

In discussing Nolan’s struggles as head coach in San Francisco, Reeves pointed to his own experience. He was fired three times as head coach during his quality career, and all three times quarterback was an issue.

In his final season in Denver he lost John Elway for four starts and had to rely on Tommy Maddox (Elway went 8-4; Maddox 0-4). In New York he started with Phil Sims and ended with Dave Brown. In his last year with the Falcons Doug Johnson and Kurt Kittner started 12 of the 16 games for an injured Michael Vick.

It is no secret in the NFL that it is hard for your coaching prowess to shine through if you don’t have a quarterback.

The year Nolan took over in San Francisco the team passed on Aaron Rodgers and selected Alex Smith No. 1 overall. Smith made 30 starts over the first three seasons and went a combined 11-24. In 2008, Nolan’s last year, Smith did not play at all because of injury. Nolan had four different offensive coordinators during his time as head coach: Mike McCarthy, Norv Turner, Jim Hostler and Mike Martz. He never settled on a style, and never found a fit for Smith like Jim Harbaugh did years later. On the other hand, Harbaugh is benefitting from guys like Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore – guys who Nolan drafted.

“I think he learned from it,” said Reeves. “Off of every situation you become more prepared. Some mistakes are made and you correct those. Mike has certainly earned the right to be a head coach again. All you have to do is look at his record as an assistant coach. I don’t think you can judge a guy by one performance.”

Nolan’s defense in Atlanta isn’t filled with big names but  is fifth in points allowed this season. In his stints as defensive coordinator for the Giants, Redskins, Jets, Ravens, Broncos, Dolphins and now the Falcons, he has built a reputation for being one of the best in the business.

Would it translate to head coaching the second time around?

“He does a good job of preparing the football team week in and week out,” said Reeves. “He is very good with his staff. He is strong in all areas.”

Coaching Buzz: Would Chip Kelly Refuse Foles?

Would the hiring of Chip Kelly in Philadelphia take Nick Foles out of the quarterback equation?

Ron Jaworksi seems to think so.

“Nick Foles will not run a Chip Kelly offense if he decided to come here, rest assured of that,” Jaws told Jon Marks and Sean Brace on 97.5 The Fanatic. “If a coach like Chip Kelly…that runs this up-tempo, spread, speed-style option, these guys come here, there might be a future for Michael Vick. I know he’s [32], I know he’s been beat up, but I’ll tell you, some of the things I’m seeing, Michael Vick can do the same things these guys are doing in the spread option.”

Jason LaCanfora says that the Eagles will be in pursuit of the Oregon coach.

The Eagles won’t be the only team to contact Kelly, but league sources expect them to be among the first to try to interview him and believe he could emerge as a quick favorite for the position.

Bruce Arians figures to be a pretty hot name this offseason. Sal Paolantonio believes the interim coach of the Colts is a strong candidate and says that the Chargers are showing interest.

Arians was asked about the possibility of him leaving Indianapolis to take a head coaching gig.

“We’ll listen to see if it’s right for me and my family. I’m not just gonna run away to be a head coach, I’m not gonna do that,” Arians tolds WHIP radio. “I want to make sure they have a chance to win and see what the situation is, what city it is in. But definitely would listen, yes.”

One wild card in all this is what happens in Chicago. From John Clayton:

Lovie Smith probably needs to make the playoffs to keep his job with the Chicago Bears. For that to happen, the Bears must beat the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings must lose to the Green Bay Packers.

Chicago is a pretty desirable destination and a vacancy there would create even further competition in the race to land the best head coach.

And finally, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Nick Saban is not leaving Alabama:

 Nick Saban, who’s reportedly on the Browns short list of head coaching candidates, means it when he says he’s not leaving Alabama and has not been interviewing assistants to join him in Cleveland, sources said.

A report on yahoo.com said Saban has already been interviewing candidates for his staff with the Browns, but the sources explained that Saban has been interviewing for his defensive backs coach vacancy at Alabama.

His secondary coach, Jeremy Pruitt, accepted the defensive coordinator post this week at Florida State.

On Tuesday, Saban, who has the Crimson Tide playing for its third national title in four seasons, told reporters in Alabama that he’s happy and has no plans to leave.

Click here for all the latest coaching buzz around the league.

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Coaching Buzz: A Look At Jay Gruden

The focus may be on the wrong Gruden.

While plenty of fans are clamoring for the more famous brother, Jon, to climb down from the broadcast booth to take over the Eagles in 2013, the chances  of that becoming a reality are slim. But hiring his younger brother, Jay, just might make some sense.

The Eagles will get a first-hand look at Jay Gruden‘s work on Thursday night when the Bengals come to Philly. The 45-year-old is in his second year as offensive coordinator for Cincinnati. Integral in the selection and development of quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green, Gruden helped transform the Bengals from a 4-12 club in 2010 to a playoff team the following year. Dalton and Green became the first quarterback-wide receiver duo to play in the Pro Bowl as rookies.

As it just so happens, the Eagles have a young Texas-born quarterback of their own that could use some mentoring.

“From everything I have heard I think Foles would be a good fit for his system. I think Foles and Jay would get along pretty well,” offered Bengals beat man Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He is a big guy (Foles is 6-5, 243; Dalton is 6-2, 220), he is accurate and he makes good decisions. I think Jay likes quarterbacks with a little bit of moxy and the ability to persevere.

“Dalton and Foles are about equal in mobility. [Gruden] values accuracy and I know one thing about Foles coming out was that he is extremely accurate.”

Reedy explained that Gruden runs a variation of the West Coast offense that is more rooted in a balanced attack and features a decent amount of the vertical game. He likes the tight end working underneath, and his methods work best with versatile backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield and hold up in pass protection.

“We are not reinventing the wheel against every new defense we face,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “Jay sees the offense through the quarterback’s eyes, and it’s a case of building from week to week, rather than starting over. The quarterback has a lot of leeway in the things he can call, and Jay recognized that Andy was the type of player who could use those options effectively.”

You can argue that the Eagles have some pieces in place to run Gruden’s system effectively, and a quarterback that might work for him.

Gruden was a quarterback himself both at the University of Louisville and later in the World League and AFL. He was an assistant for the Bucs from 2002-08 and won a Super Bowl coaching under Jon in Tampa. He also won two AFL titles as head coach of the Orlando Predators.

Gruden was said to have been offered the Jaguars head coaching job last year, but declined. Part of the reason is because he is not a man that likes to uproot his family. Reedy said that Andy Reid tried to add Gruden to his staff on multiple occasions before Lewis got him but his advances were denied, in part for the very same reason.

“One of his kids is a senior in high school and one is just starting,” said Reedy. “One reason he stayed out of coaching searches last year is he made a promise with his family that they would stick around for at least one more year.”

Would he be willing to move now for a head coaching gig?

“I think he wants a shot but it’s got to be the right situation,” Reedy said. “He is young enough where he can kind of wait and confident enough that he is not going to take a job just for the sake of taking it.”

A reminder that you can find all of the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

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Coaching Buzz: Chudzinski A Sleeper For Eagles?

We gave you two potential dark horse candidates for the Eagles head coaching job on Wednesday.

Mike Lombardi added a name of his own. From NFL.com:

If the Eagles fire Andy Reid and can’t get [Chip] Kelly, Lombardi said Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski could be a sleeper selection in Philadelphia.

The Panthers set a team record for yards last season, thanks in large part to a standout rookie year out of Cam Newton. That was Chudzinski’s first year on the job. Prior to that he was the tight ends and assistant head coach for the Chargers, where he worked with Antonio Gates. He has also served as an offensive coordinator for the Browns and the University of Miami.

Lombardi also agrees that Kelly is going to be a sought-after coach.

“He’s the prettiest girl in the school,” Lombardi said. “Everyone is going after Chip Kelly because of what he brings uniquely offensively.”

Playboy has an interesting piece on Jon Gruden (I read it for the articles, I swear!). The subject of whether he’ll return to the sidelines is broached:

When asked if her husband is happier broadcasting than he was coaching, Cindy pauses and then says, “Sometimes I think Jon has two monsters on his shoulder. One is go back to coaching, and the other is stay with this, have a nice life with his family. He’ll always have those two monsters.”

Gruden nods, seems to think it over and shrugs. “At least, no matter what happens, I’ll have tape to watch—and a seat at the FFCA.”

The FFCA stands for Fired Football Coaches Association. Gruden has rented a dingy office overlooking  a swamp in Tampa where he can hang out and watch film at all hours (turns out, Gruden is an insomniac). Fired coaches apparently come from all over and use the place almost as a refuge. Pretty good read.

Gruden’s name is always being linked to one team or another. The latest is the Raiders, who quickly shot that rumor down.

As always, you can find all the latest coaching buzz in our special section.


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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Schiano And the Chip Kelly Question

Greg Schiano was asked to weigh in on the Chip Kelly debate Wednesday, and he probably didn’t even know it.

The line of questioning by the Philly media: Just how important is having some NFL coaching experience in your history to making a successful head-coaching transition from college to the pros? Schiano pointed out that his Bucs are sitting at .500 through 12 games, so he’s not sure how successful he’s been. But he made it clear that it was a big plus for him.

“I think the biggest thing for me is I was fortunate enough to have coached in the National Football League back in the late ’90s so I had a frame of reference of what kind of went on,” said Schiano.

“The head coach training — 11 years at Rutgers as head coach — was  ultimately the most important thing…but the experience of being in the National Football League was very important as well.”

Schiano was a defensive assistant for the Bears from 1996-98 before heading to the college ranks. Similarly, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh spent two seasons as the Raiders offensive coordinator before going the collegiate route.

Kelly has never coached in the NFL, and there is a debate going on about just how big of a deal that is. Schiano believes that college coaches are better equipped now to make the leap.

“I think availability of information has helped coaches grow,” said Schiano. “If a guy has a willingness to grow as a coach he now has the information and the resources to watch and learn. If you’re willing to study tape, you can get 90 percent of the scheme and the secret.”

Kelly and Schiano’s fates are tied together. Kelly originally agreed to become Tampa’s head coach last year before he had a change of heart and went back to Oregon. That opened the door for Schiano.

“I know Chip but I never talked to him about this job,” he said. “I knew that it was going that way when I was involved with it and quite frankly I wanted the job so I wasn’t happy, but when the thing changed a couple hours later I was more happy.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Cullen Jenkins says that Jim Washburn is misunderstood.

Todd Herremans is still in a cast but hopeful he can be ready for minicamps.

Danny Watkins has lost his job, and injury is no longer part of the reasoning.

LeSean McCoy could sit out the rest of the year. Fortunately for the Eagles Bryce Brown has stepped in and performed. Sheil has the All-22 breakdown.

In our latest edition of coaching buzz, we look at pair of potential sleeper candidates.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jason Babin has chimed in on the firing of Washburn.

“I don’t like to see anybody get fired … but you knew they wanted to do that,” Babin said. “I could tell there were some feelings between Coach [Andy] Reid and ‘Wash’ that were on the surface and you could feel the tension a little bit. Everybody knew he wouldn’t be there next year anyway.”

Peter King takes a look at this rookie class of quarterbacks.

Nick Foles of the Eagles went to Dallas and put up 33 points on the Cowboys, Brandon Weeden broke a 13-game road losing streak for Cleveland by winning at Oakland, and Ryan Tannehill continued his respectable freshman year for Miami in a loss to the Patriots.

“You want to be that class that people think of when you talk about rookie quarterback classes,” Griffin told me, “and right now we’re being that class. Our class has been awesome.”

 COMING UP

Another day in paradise! Marty Mornhinweg and Todd Bowles address the media.

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Coaching Buzz: A Couple Dark Horses

Last time around, the Eagles shocked everybody and hired a relative unknown named Andy Reid to be their head coach. We have to at least account for the possibility that Jeffrey Lurie might favor the thrill of discovery over the security of a known entity once again.

Forget preference for a second. Even if Lurie did want a big name, who is to say he would be able to land one? There should be a lot of head coaching openings this offseason, and the Eagles don’t seem all that appealing at the moment. They might be better served getting a young, hungry assistant who is not just promising but willing to take on the hard labor ahead.

With that in mind, we made a few calls around the league and came up with a pair of sleepers to keep half-an-eye on.

Ben McAdoo

Current role: Quarterbacks coach, Green Bay

I know, right? I mean, what are the odds that Lurie would hire a QB coach from the Packers again? I can picture those 97.5 caller lines lighting up right now.

And there are similarities beyond job titles. Just as Reid studied and won a Super Bowl under mentor Mike Holmgren, so too has McAdoo under Mike McCarthy. The IUP grad and Homer City, Pa. native hooked on with McCarthy in New Orleans and followed him to San Francisco and eventually Green Bay. He served as the Packers tight ends coach for six seasons before being named quarterbacks coach this year.

Reid had Brett Favre, McAdoo gets Aaron Rodgers. Pretty good gig if you can get it.

Jason LaCanfora reported back in January that McCarthy denied requests from the Dolphins and Bucs to inteview McAdoo for their offensive coordinator openings this offseason.

McAdoo is just 35 and considered a fast riser. He has been around a very successful offensive system for a number of years. Green Bay’s offense has finished in the top 10 each year since McCarthy took over in 2006.

It would be stranger than fiction (and honestly, pretty unpopular) to replace Reid with someone with a similar coaching back story.  But if he is the guy, you fight past that.

Mel Tucker

Current role: Defensive coordinator/assistant head coach, Jacksonville

Fear not, this has nothing to do with Jason Babin.

The Jaguars’ DC was the interim head coach at the end of last season following the firing of Jack Del Rio. The Jags seriously considered keeping him in the head coaching role this season, but ultimately went with Mike Mularkey instead. He had a chance to move on and take the defensive coordinator job in Minnesota this season but got a nice offer from Jacksonville and decided to stay. According to a source, the Vikings did a study of all the defensive coordinators during their search and determined that, when it came to production versus talent, Tucker was far and away tops in the league. Tucker’s defense was ranked sixth overall in the NFL in 2011.

This year has been a different story. The 2-10 Jaguars are ranked 31st on defense.

The 40-year-old Tucker began his coaching career at Michigan State as a graduate assistant under Nick Saban and later served as a defensive backs coach for him at LSU. He also coached under Jim Tressel at Ohio State.

“I feel he’s an ascending coach within the profession and he certainly has the leadership qualities that you look for in a head coach candidate,” said Jacksonville general manager Gene Smith. “He’s very passionate in his approach and respectfully demanding of details, but yet he’s fair in how he handles his players. I think he’s a people person who connects well with his staff and players and they know he cares.’’

Tucker, who hails from Cleveland,  has been described as a “tough nut,” which is a requirement if you want to succeed in Philadelphia –especially under these conditions.

An African American, interviewing Tucker would also satisfy the NFL’s Rooney Rule.

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Coaching Buzz: The Odds On Gruden

Ask not what Jon Gruden can do for you. Ask what you can do for Jon Gruden.

That is the mindset that needs to be adopted if you want to get a realistic feel for the odds of the Eagles landing Chucky.

Let’s start out by saying those odds are very small. Consider:

Gruden is a 49-year-old mega-millionaire with one of the more desirable jobs in the industry. His work schedule is manageable, his paycheck is exorbitant and his lifestyle is, well, kick-ass.

To cash all that in for the  all-consuming, sleep-in-your-office, round-the-clock grind that is a head coach’s reality would take “an absolutely unbelievable package” from what I have been told.

That means a truckload of money, a high-end quarterback, a dynamite franchise, the works.

The news on Friday is that he turned down the University of Tennessee.

“Coach Gruden has let us know that he’s not interested, and we’re pursuing other candidates,” a Tennessee official said.

He would be king in Knoxville, but he said, “No thanks.” It’s not the first time he has turned down a job since heading to the broadcast booth in 2008, and it won’t be the last.

Of the requirements listed above, the Eagles have the money. You can argue, despite the recent slide, that they have one of the better franchises in the league. But they definitely don’t have stability at quarterback.

Whoever takes this team over from Andy Reid will have his hands full. There is some talent, but it is dysfunctional talent at the moment. A lot of ails can be masked with exceptional quarterback play, but where will that come from?

There are headaches ahead, maybe some more losing seasons. The next man up will have to be motivated to push this team back up the steep incline, inch by inch. As Gruden looks out at the landscape from his plush digs up high in the booth, there is little chance he will gaze upon Philadelphia and find it desirable enough to make the descent back into the trenches.

 

As always, you can find all the latest coaching buzz in our special section.
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