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Posted by Jan - 5 - 2013 0 Comment

Chip Kelly in the days and weeks leading up to the Fiesta Bowl didn’t want to talk about an NFL coaching gig. Now that his Oregon Ducks won the Fiesta Bowl handily, he has started talking to NFL teams and apparently isn’t done. Early Friday evening Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that Kelly was close to a deal to become the Browns 17th coach in team history, and the 7th since the team’s return in 1999. This set off a maelstrom of tweets, reports, as well as brown-and-orange visor sales across northeast Ohio, all assuming that like last year Kelly was one and done giving NFL interviews. It appeared that the Browns had gotten their man. Kelly has been reported to be the Browns #1 candidate, though likely due to Nick Saban reiterating his intentions to remain the King of Alabama. It was also no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles had Kelly high on their list, and the overwhelming sentiment was that it would come down to a battle of checkbooks between Jeffrey Lurie and Jimmy Haslam. Now Kelly wasn’t the only candidate new owner Jimmy Haslam III and new CEO Joe Banner interviewed. They took advantage of the moratorium placed on Kelly due to his team’s bowl appearance. While waiting in Arizona this week to speak to Kelly, the Browns interviewed former Cardinals head coach Ken Wisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. They also squeezed in interviews with Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien (who later removed himself from all NFL coaching vacancies), and Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone. Unlike coaching searches under previous ownership, the Browns appear to be executing a thorough search for their next head coach. But it appears, the Browns aren’t the only ones doing their due diligence.

Kelly spent a reported 7 hours with the Browns brass on Friday before the news broke that a deal was close. The sentiment a short time later was that a deal was virtually imminent, and Browns fans across the land took to Twitter lauding the decision. Then the speculation conversation shifted to everything from Mike Lombardi already scouting free agents for Kelly’s fast-paced offense to Colt McCoy being told he’s in the new head coach’s plans for 2013. The Northcoast was cheering, the Pacific Northwest began mourning. Then, late Friday evening, it was reported and later confirmed that Kelly also met with the Buffalo Bills, whom had lined up an interview earlier in the week with the most sought after college coach during this silly season. The aforementioned Eagles had also arranged an interview, but were also busy trying to line up a chat with Bruce Arians once reports from Arizona started to trickle in. It was appearing like the Eagles were putting together Plan B, and had even flown back to Philly from AZ. However it appears that they failed to keep in touch with the Kelly camp, as he left the Browns interview not only intending on meeting with the Bills as planned, but the Eagles as well. (As I am typing this, they are on their way back out to Arizona per Adam Schefter to meet with Kelly.) Per Chris Mortensen of ESPN, there was an agreement that the Browns and Kelly would reconvene Saturday evening once the Eagles interview was done. And until that second meeting with the Browns takes place, the hearts of Browns fans will beat in their collective throats.

The likely outcome of all of this is that Chip Kelly will indeed be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. In looking at the competition of Buffalo and Philly, the Browns offer several options that trump those offered in either location. Buffalo cannot compete with compensation for Chip Kelly. They are simply not in Jimmy Haslam’s tax bracket. As well, they just underwent a last minute leadership change that likely needs to settle out with new CEO Russ Brandon taking over primary ownership responsibilities. In Philly, there is the lure of some high-priced talent, and Mr. Lurie has deep pockets as well. Still, the salary cap situation there is suspect and the Eagles have an aging roster of oft-injured veterans. The Browns are in excellent salary cap shape, have an up-and-coming roster infused with young, hungry player (thanks to Tom Heckert), and an owner that will give his head coach every chance to succeed. Should these be Kelly’s only three NFL options, Cleveland is certainly the leader in the clubhouse. Kelly has talked about making sure he finds the right situation, and that he needs to take a look at all options. Smart man. Even if the interviews with Buffalo and Philadelphia are cursory at this point, he should have those conversations. Some fear that they will be conversations that lure him from Cleveland, and perhaps draw him from within the clutches of long suffering and endlessly hopeful Browns fans dying for something to make their team relevant again. However, it is just as likely that those conversations will reinforce just how good the opportunity for him is in Cleveland, and that the grass is greener here. Just how green is it? You can start by counting the numbers left of the decimal on the check JH3 is about to scratch out. And for Browns fans upset that he’s even taking the time to talk with anyone else, things could be worse. You could be an Oregon Duck fan.

 

 

 

Categories: Cleveland Browns, Featured

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