Eagles have hired Chip Kelly to be their next head coach
Jeffrey Lurie pushed all his chips in and reeled in the Big Chip.
The Eagles dropped a bomb and hired Oregon coach Chip Kelly -- their No. 1 target -- to be their next head coach, the team announced on Wednesday.
"Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles,” Lurie said. "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."
The Eagles will officially introduce Kelly during a news conference on Thursday at 1 p.m. at the NovaCare Complex.
Kelly is expected to arrive from Oregon around 6:15 p.m. today and will land at Northeast Philadelphia airport. He will be met by Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and team president Don Smolenski and will drive to Lurie's Wynnewood mansion for dinner.
The news was first reported by ESPN. Multiple NFL sources initially confirmed the report to The Inquirer. Other candidates like Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt were informed of the decision not long after it was made.
Bradley was the second choice and would have been offered the job, a team source said. The Eagles met with him for a second interview on Tuesday in Philadelphia. It lasted approximately six hours. But when it ended late in the evening, the Eagles resumed talks with Kelly that had heated up exactly one week earlier.
The Eagles and Kelly came to an agreement late Tuesday night and the deal was finalized after the Oregon coach told his players on Wednesday morning.
Kelly, 49, announced on Jan. 6 that he was staying at Oregon after he interviewed with the Eagles, among other NFL teams. He met with the Eagles a day earlier at the Scottsdale Four Seasons for a nine-hour interview.
By coincidence they ran into each other again when the Eagles were in Nashville to interview Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on Jan. 8. Chip Kelly was there for a coach's conference. Lurie, Roseman and Smolenski were having dinner when Kelly stopped by their table.
A mutual friend of Roseman's and Kelly's insisted they talk again. Roseman kept up the conversation the following day with Kelly and his agent, David Dunn, and it continued through Saturday. That's when Kelly started to seriously considered doing an about face.
The Eagles were in Atlanta meeting with Bradley for a first interview on Saturday. They kept about their process, still interviewing with candidates, but Roseman maintained contact with Kelly and Dunn.
Talks heated up late Monday. Bradley arrived from Seattle in the meantime, but Kelly remained the Eagles' main focus. He was their top target from the get-go, followed by Penn State coach Bill O'Brien, who chose to stay in State College.
Kelly, considered one of the more innovative coaches in the college game, compiled a 46-7 record in four seasons with the Ducks. While he has never coached at the NFL level, Kelly's innovations have been used by some teams, such as the Patriots.
New England coach Bill Belichick implemented some of his tactics in the hurry-up offense. Kelly is known for his speed, spread offense. His practices are considered to be among the fastest at the collegiate level. Former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden attended practices in Oregon years ago to pick up some ideas.
Kelly was a hot commodity last offseason. He initially accepted an offer from Tampa, but ultimately decided to stay at his university. The opinion of Kelly this year did not change. Multiple teams that needed to fill head coaching vacancies were interested.
He interviewed with the Eagles, Browns and Bills. The Browns met with him the day after the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona, as did Buffalo. The Eagles had their turn the next day and met with him for nine hours.
After the meeting, Kelly took a day to decide that he would stay. The Browns at that point left to reboot their search. There was a report that Cleveland was not sure if Kelly was 100 percent committed to making the jump to the NFL.
Whether he's all-in or not, he's now in the NFL. And he's now the 21st head coach in Eagles history and the third hire for Lurie, following Ray Rhodes and Andy Reid.
There are many questions still to answer: What will he do at quarterback? He will he hire to be his defensive coordinator? Who will help him coach the offense?
Kelly favors an aggressive, attacking-style defense and will likely change the Eagles' scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4, a source familiar with the coach's thinking said. Kelly will also likely bring in an offensive coordinator that will mostly handle the passing game.
As for the quarterback position, Kelly's opinion is unknown. The Eagles have Michael Vick and Nick Foles under contract. Many expect the Eagles to cut Vick, although he's style of play would seem to suit Kelly's offense.