One big question in the wake of the Eagles‘ bombshell decision: What’s next for the controversial coach?
Kelly’s stock has taken a hit as the Eagles have stumbled to a 6-9 record in a season in which the coach also served as the team’s personnel chief. But it also must be noted that the Eagles won 10 games in each of Kelly’s first two seasons in Philly.
It stands to reason that an NFL team could look at Kelly’s full body of work and view the 2015 season as an outlier — or, at the very least, merely an indicator that Kelly can succeed when not overburdened by responsibility.
One team that immediately jumps out as an option is the Tennessee Titans. Kelly recruited Marcus Mariota when the he was the coach of the University of Oregon, and it’s no secret the Eagles pined for the opportunity to move up to select Mariota in the 2015 draft.
That opportunity never materialized, but now a Kelly-Mariota reunion is more possible than ever. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that a high-ranking Titans source told him earlier this month that Kelly wasn’t on the team’s list of prospective head coaches because he was under contract with another team.
This is no longer the case.
Another team to keep an eye on is the Cleveland Browns, who could be days away from cleaning house and, in 2013, nearly landed Kelly as their coach before he was lured away by the Eagles. If Jimmy Haslam and his lieutenants still see Kelly as a difference-maker in the NFL, it stands to reason that they could make another aggressive play. A marriage between Kelly and Johnny Manziel could make for great theater, and a top-two pick in the draft would be enticing for any coach.
Of course, a return to the college ranks should not be ruled out. Kelly turned Oregon into a national powerhouse, and there could be a big-time program willing to open up their checkbooks for Kelly’s services. USC reached out to Kelly before they decided to remove the interim tag from head coach Clay Helton. In the NFL, Kelly is an unproven commodity. In college, he is a certified big deal.
Tuesday was a tough day for Chip. But believe this: The blenders needn’t be tossed. We haven’t seen the last of The Genius.