Controversial Former Eagles Coach Eyes NFL Return: Report

Chip Kelly Salary

Getty Head coach of the UCLA Bruins Chip Kelly reacts after a Fresno State Bulldogs touchdown to trail 31-14 during the third quarter at Rose Bowl on September 15, 2018 in Pasadena, California.

The guy that depleted the Eagles’ roster of talent is eyeing a return to the NFL. Don’t expect a caravan in his driveway.

Chip Kelly patrolled the Eagles’ sideline from 2013 to 2015 as head coach. It didn’t go well. After exploding onto the scene and making the playoffs in his first year, the innovative play-caller from Oregon fell flat on his face.

Kelly clashed with both the front office and star players in a well-publicized power struggle that saw the Eagles get rid of DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. He was ultimately fired mid-season by owner Jeffery Lurie in 2015. He went 26-21 in two-plus seasons before taking over the head gig in San Francisco.

According to NFL Draft Insiders Tony Pauline, Kelly has reportedly been angling for a way out of his UCLA contract and looking to return to the NFL. The rumor has been linked to last year’s NFL Combine when word first leaked about his unhappiness. Kelly is 4-7 this year at UCLA and has gone 7-16 in parts of two seasons.

Per Pauline: “This is speculation on my behalf drawing on what I’ve heard over the past year. It may be a situation where they both part ways where he’s not fired, but leaves. The word last year at the NFL Combine was that Kelly tried to get out of his UCLA contract because he wanted to get back into the NFL.”

Kelly would have left UCLA prior to the season but the buyout was too large a sum, per Pauline’s report. It will probably be a mutual breakup between the school and coach, not a firing.

Should Eagles Consider Kelly for Offensive Coordinator?

No, absolutely not. The Eagles can ill afford to bring Chip Kelly’s drama back into a locker room that already seems fractured.

While it is tempting to consider Carson Wentz running his fast-break offense — there would be no time to overthink throws, plus Wentz’s mobility would be on full display — the marriage between the Eagles and Kelly was a bad romance. There were no winners and Wentz needs cheerleaders in his corner, not negativity.

After their divorce, The Athletic reported that Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie regretted giving Kelly too much power. He had given the coach full control of football operations in 2015.

Per The Athletic: Asked for his biggest regret as owner, Lurie says there are many, but he has trouble identifying just one. He admits that stripping Roseman of his power and giving Kelly full control is one of them. At the time, Kelly was coming off of back-to-back 10-win seasons. As Lurie has explained in the past, he felt like expanding Kelly’s reach was a necessary step to see what he had in the coach.

“I don’t regret the hiring of him because it was done with a really good thought process,” Lurie says.

“But, yes, I would say I regret giving him the kind of authority I gave him, yeah. That’s an easy one.”

But Kelly has always been at the forefront of creativity in play-calling. The influx of the RPO game into the NFL largely came about due to his quick-paced, spread-style kind of offense. Very few teams were doing it before Kelly’s arrival.

Now it seems like every team has some form of the RPO in their playbook, including the proliferation of athletic quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. Make no mistake, Kelly always liked strong-armed quarterbacks. Wentz would be a dream fit in his system, especially running his “mesh concept.” 

“I look for a quarterback who can run and not a running back who can throw,” Kelly said when explaining his offense years ago. “I want a quarterback who can beat you with his arm.”

Again, the headaches — not to mention the egos — involved with bringing him back to Philadelphia aren’t worth it. Doug Pederson led to the Eagles to a Super Bowl. Leave well enough alone.

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