When the Eagles hired coach Chip Kelly on January 16, 2013, some dubbed him the next mastermind of the NFL. He immediately produced back-to-back 10-6 seasons and went to the playoffs his first year on the job only to lose to the Saints in the Wild Card round. Kelly wanted more after the 2014 season, and he won a power struggle in the front office. Owner Jeffery Lurie gave Kelly full control of player personnel, and Kelly hand-picked VP of Player Personnel Ed Marynowitz as his new right-hand man. GM Howie Roseman was “promoted” to Executive VP of Football Operations, taking him out of a decision-making role when it came to the roster. Kelly took over as the GM. Eleven months later, Lurie fired Kelly and Marynowitz on Tuesday. OC Pat Shurmur will handle interim coaching duties for Week 17 and follow Kelly out the door next week. Roseman is expected to reassume duties as the head of the personnel department and will help conduct the new search.
Kelly reportedly didn’t fight Lurie’s decision to fire him. He’s since opened up a bit to FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer and told him that he’d like to remain in the NFL as a head coach. The big thing to take from Glazer’s report is that Kelly told him he no longer wants to run player personnel; Kelly simply wants to coach, and that’s it. If true, it’s very big. Because the roster decisions were Kelly’s downfall in Philadelphia, in addition to the way he treated his players as teenagers. As long as he takes a long look in the mirror and has learned from his stop in Philadelphia, Kelly should have no problem earning a second chance. Off the top of the head, three teams make a ton of sense for Kelly. The Browns interviewed him for seven hours back in 2013, and it was believed that was going to be his destination before the Eagles swooped in to woo him away from Cleveland. If owner Jimmy Haslam fires coach Mike Pettine, Kelly will likely be atop the list to replace him. The Titans and Dolphins also make sense. Kelly’s quarterback from Oregon, Marcus Mariota is in Tennessee, and would seem to be a match made in heaven on paper. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has failed to land any of the big-fish coaching candidates in recent years, whiffing on Jeff Fisher and Dan Quinn.
In other coaching news, the Jaguars announced Gus Bradley will be back as head coach next season despite a 12-35 record and three-straight double-digit-loss seasons. Also, in New Orleans, Drew Brees said he can’t see a scenario where he and coach Sean Payton aren’t back with the Saints in 2016. Brees will have to restructure his contract, as he’s due a $30 million cap hit. Payton has long been rumored to be considering leaving the Saints, especially if owner Tom Benson sells the team. This will be an interesting one to follow. Coaches Chuck Pagano and Mike Pettine of the Colts and Browns, respectively, say they haven’t talked to ownership about their futures with their teams.
In Other News…
A.J. McCarron injured his left (non-throwing) wrist on the final play of Monday night’s loss to the Broncos in overtime trying to recover his own lost fumble. On Tuesday, he was diagnosed with a strained wrist and “should be fine” for Week 17. McCarron may have to sport a brace, but it shouldn’t affect his throwing at all. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton (thumb) isn’t expected to be ready for the Wild Card round of the playoffs if the Bengals don’t earn a first-round bye. He was slapped with a 4-6 week timetable after injuring his thumb in Week 14. The Divisional Round seems best-case for a return.
The Bills handed Charles Clay a five-year, $38 million contract in March to steal him away from the division-rival Dolphins. In doing so, the Bills made Clay the fourth-highest-paid tight end in the league in annual average at $7.6 million per year and guaranteed him 64.5 percent of his entire contract. That guarantee is the highest among all tight ends. Based on his pay grade, Clay can be classified as one of the more overpaid players in the sport and a free-agent bust after posting a mediocre 51-528-3 line his first season in Buffalo. On Tuesday, he was placed on season-ending I.R. with a back injury. Clay has battled back and knee issues the past couple years. He’ll turn 27 in February.
The Colts’ quarterback situation is a hilarious mess. Andrew Luck (kidney) has still yet to be cleared for contact, Charlie Whitehurst was placed on I.R. on Monday, and Matt Hasselbeck is barely breathing as a broken-down 40-year-old. Waking up Tuesday morning, the Colts were left with only Stephen Morris at quarterback. Yesterday afternoon, Indianapolis signed veteran QBs Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley. One of Morris, Freeman, or Lindley will likely start Week 17 against Tennessee.
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Quarterback & Running Back Slants
Patriots re-signed RB/FB Joey Iosefa to the practice squad. … Coach Gary Kubiak confirmed Brock Osweiler will start Week 17 against the Chargers. … Jonathan Stewart (foot) “may” practice Wednesday. … Marcus Mariota (knee) took drop-backs at a very light practice Monday. He’s not expected to play Week 17. … Interim coach Mike Mularkey said Bishop Sankey will be more involved Week 17. … Tony Romo may have a plate inserted to stabilize his collarbone. … Tom Brady said the Patriots will do everything they can to secure home-field advantage for the playoffs. … GM Doug Whaley said Tyrod Taylor needs to take another step in his development, becoming a player who can put the team on his back.
Wide Receiver & Tight End Slants
Ravens placed WR Marlon Brown on injured reserve with a back injury. … Dez Bryant’s (foot, knee, ankle) availability for Week 17 will be a “medical decision.” … Kendall Wright (knee) hopes to practice Wednesday. He’s one of the biggest disappointments of the season. … Texans rookie WR Jaelen Strong is down to 197 pounds after ballooning to 231 during the spring.
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