Chip Kelly: Why He’ll Leave College and 5 Places He Can Go
The 2007 hiring of New Hampshire offensive coordinator Chip Kelly was historic to the Oregon football program. Although named to the same position by Oregon (taking over for Gary Crowton who left for LSU), his version of the spread offense has brought legendary results to a program that has had it’s share of ups and downs. His innovative offensive assault gained more national attention once Duck Head Coach Mike Belotti resigned and Kelly was named his replacement.
Since taking over in 2009, he has led the high powered Ducks to two Rose Bowl appearances and a close National Championship game loss in 2011. Led by redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota, the 2012 Ducks once again looked like BCS Title contenders until getting unceremoniously knocked out of the picture by conference opponent Stanford in a close 17-14 game. In a year (2012) where the Ducks were supposed to be rebuilding, they remain in the top 5 and will most likely be given a BCS bowl birth.
Kelly was widely courted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason to become their head coach, and was thought to have accepted the position. Kelly supposedly had second thoughts, and instead Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano took the job (and has already brought results). News also emerged that New England coach (and future Hall of Famer) Bill Belichick had consulted Kelly about the spread no-huddle hurry up offense, which has become another dangerous tool in Patriot Quarterback’s Tom Brady’s arsenal.
Although he has yet to win a BCS championship, he has little left to prove in the college ranks. While I’m not sure that’s motivation to him to leave Eugene, perhaps the possible upcoming sanctions against Oregon will make him change his mind. One has to think that the NFL will beat down his door this offseason in the hopes of luring the young offensive mastermind to the pro’s, here are a preview of the teams that could call Kelly sooner rather than later, rankings are in best fit (from worst to best):
5. Buffalo Bills (currently 4-7 under HC): The Bills haven’t had a winning season since going 9-7 in 2004, and current Head Coach Chan Gailey hasn’t helped guide this team to the postseason in his 2.5 seasons since taking the job in 2010. While the Bills still somehow have a chance of finishing with a .500 record, they could be in the hunt for a new Head Coach. The Bills just hugely upgraded their defense last year, and they boast one of the league’s most impressive defensive lines. They’re having huge problems in the passing game, and I’m not sure if it’s QB Ryan Fitzpatricks’ fault. Offensively, wouldn’t you want Spiller to play in a Kelly hybrid spread offense? Probability: 10%
4. Kansas City Chiefs (currently 1-10 under HC Romeo Crennel): The Chiefs have severely disappointed this season as their entire team appears to be a mess. Crennel was given this opportunity after taking over for then HC Todd Haley in 2011, which he proceeded to guide the Chiefs to a 2-1 record in the final three games. So far this unit has been miserable, and it appears that there will be a ton of personnel changes, especially on the offensive unit. I expect QB Matt Cassel to get his walking papers, and they will look to replace him with what is probably the 1st overall pick. I assume GM Scott Pioli (if he keeps his own job) will place a call into Kelly to gauge his interest, but Chip will and should have better options available. Probability: 15%
3. San Diego Chargers (currently 4-7 under HC Norv Turner): I feel bad for Chargers fans. They’ve had to sit three straight up and down campaigns under Norv Turner, with this season appearing to be a turn for the worse. They’ve beaten everyone they’re supposed to, but have got killed by every decent team they’ve had on the schedule including this last heartbreaker to Baltimore. I think Norv’s out, and this could be a tantalizing opportunity for Kelly. He might be the guy to reinvigorate Rivers while he has a pass rush with decent young players. This chargers team will be better next season just with their injured players returning. Probability: 20%
2. Philadelphia Eagles (currently 3-8 under HC Andy Reid): For the past two preseasons, the Eagles were hailed as a potential Super Bowl team to little avail. Reid, now in his 14th season as the Philly head coach, he has yet to deliver as ring, and in the NFL it’s all about Super Bowl victories. More intriguing than the Chargers on a talent basis, they have a lot of interesting pieces on on both sides of the ball including star RB LeSean McCoy. This team could have a drastically different look (given the probable upcoming offseason cuts as evidenced by DE Jason Babin’s sudden release), but still has a ton of potential and could be in the thick of the NFC East picture immediately under new direction. Probability: 25%
1. Carolina Panthers (currently 3-8 under HC Ron Rivera): I doubt Rivera saved his job because of his team’s performance against the Eagles. After the firing of longtime GM Marty Hurney, I assume that whoever his replacement ends up being will bring in a new head coach. While I wouldn’t say this team is loaded with talent, they do have young playmakers but have lacked a clear sense of direction. Could you imagine someone like Cam Newton as the QB in a modified spread offense and with two capable backs in Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams. Based off their talent, if the shoe fits… Probability: 30%