Chip Kelly

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Kelly, Cardinals

Cliff Avril underwent disc surgery this week, and Pete Carroll confirmed (via Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times) the procedure went well. Avril will be out for the season, and previous reports indicated the longtime Seahawks defensive end’s career is in jeopardy. Avril, who said in October he wasn’t thinking retirement, sent out a tweet about his upcoming recovery process. Next season will be Avril’s age-32 slate. Michael Bennett said, via Loh, he talks to Avril daily and called his friend’s future “uncertain” as he prepares for a long recovery.

I think you want to be able to walk away from the game the way you want to walk away from the game. To suffer an injury of any magnitude, especially one where you could easily have been paralyzed, is something you have to be able to try to move forward past, and it’s a hard thing to do,” Bennett said. “It’s always devastating to lose a guy and not know his future.”

Here’s the latest from the NFC West.

  • Chip Kelly agreeing to become UCLA’s head coach helped save the 49ers money. The five-year, $23.3MM contract Kelly signed with UCLA will help offset what the 49ers owe him, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports. The 49ers will save $7.5MM because of Kelly’s Bruins agreement, per Maiocco, adding the team would have owed its one-season coach approximately $14MM between 2018 and ’19. Now, UCLA will pay $7.5MM of that amount. “Chip did us a solid,” a 49ers source said, via Maiocco. Kelly signed a four-year, $24MM contract to become San Francisco’s head coach last year but was fired after a 2-14 campaign.
  • The Seahawks have yet to place Kam Chancellor on IR alongside Avril, and Brady Henderson of ESPN.com notes this might be because of the franchise’s cap situation. Seattle’s up against the salary ceiling presently at $84K, per OverTheCap, and by placing Chancellor on IR and replacing him with another player could create a tricky situation. Chancellor’s salary is guaranteed whether he’s on IR or the active roster. Henderson writes the Seahawks might not make this move until they need a roster spot. Given that five games remain in the regular season, that date appears likely to arrive soon.
  • Bruce Arians said earlier this week he could envision Blaine Gabbert being the Cardinals2018 starting quarterback if he keeps playing the way he’s fared since taking over. Arians doubled down on that claim later this week by saying (via Sirius XM radio, on Twitter) Gabbert is not a game manager and fits the Cardinals’ system “really well.” Arians added the veteran passer can “spin it” as well as anyone he’s coached. For reference, Arians has coached Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer. However, the straight-shooting coach is not known for doling out unwarranted praise. Palmer is under contract through 2018 but hasn’t made a decision about a return. Gabbert is a 2018 UFA.
  • Chandler Jones is having an All-Pro-caliber season, and the recently extended outside linebacker credits some of his improved production to being around 15 pounds lighter than last season, Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com notes. Urban notes Jones reported to Cardinals camp overweight last year and played between 270 and 275 pounds. He’s just under 260 now. The recently extended pass rusher has 12 sacks — one more than he recorded all of last season. That’s tied with 2016 teammate Calais Campbell for best in the league and 4.5 sacks off Simeon Rice‘s 18-year-old team record.

UCLA Hires Chip Kelly As Head Coach

Chip Kelly is back in the NCAA. UCLA announced today that they have hired Kelly as their new head coach (news first reported by Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports on Twitter). It will be a five-year contract worth $23.3MM with a $9MM reciprocal buyout (financial aspects first reports byFS1’s Bruce Feldman on Twitter).

Chip KellyKelly made a name for himself as the head coach of Oregon, compiling a 46-7 record between 2009 and 2012 (along with three Pac-12 Conference championships). The head coach subsequently moved on to the NFL, taking a job with the Eagles. During his three seasons in Philadelphia, Kelly amassed a respectable 26-21 record, leading the Eagles to a division championship in 2013.

After the Eagles went 6-9 through the first 16 weeks of the 2015 campaign, Kelly was fired. Less than a month later, he joined the 49ers, although things didn’t go as planned. San Francisco ultimately went 2-14, including a 13-game losing streak, and Kelly was fired following the season. As ESPN’s Darren Rovell points out (on Twitter), the 49ers organization still owed Kelly $15MM, but this will mostly be “erased” as any salary will offset the buyout.

Since then, there have been rumblings that Kelly could take another head coach or coordinator gig in the NFL. The 53-year-old had met with the Jaguars regarding their former head coach and offensive coordinator vacancies, and there were also whispers that he could take a role on either the Patriots or Falcons coaching staffs. The majority of the rumors surrounding Kelly pertained to NFL gigs, as the coach apparently wasn’t interested in taking a job at Alabama (there were also whispers that Florida was eyeing him). Ultimately, during his year off, Kelly spent time with ESPN as a studio analyst.

Last week, former Jaguars offensive coordinator Jeff Fisch was named UCLA’s interim head coach after the school fired Jim L. Mora. Fisch ultimately led the Bruins to an important 30-27 win over California, gaining his team bowl eligibility.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

ESPN Hires Chip Kelly

It doesn’t sound like we’ll be seeing former Eagles and 49ers head coach Chip Kelly on the sidelines for a college or NFL team this season. Kelly has signed on with ESPN as a studio analyst, according to a press release from the network. Chip Kelly

[RELATED: Chip Kelly Did Not Have Interest In Alabama’s OC Job]

Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective — as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I’ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations. Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

It’s a multi-year contract for Kelly and ESPN, though deals for coaching types typically come with out clauses. It’s unlikely that Kelly will break his pact in the coming months, but he’ll probably have his hat in the ring for opportunities in 2018, whether that be in in the professional or collegiate ranks. A report back in March indicated that Kelly was looking to find work in the NFL as an assistant, leading him to TV.

Kelly, 53, coached the Eagles for three years before a trying 2016 season with San Francisco. The offensive-minded coach went 26-21 as the coach of the Eagles but his 49ers went 2-14 last year. Before jumping to the NFL, Kelly amassed a 46-7 record at Oregon. He’ll be providing insight on both NFL and college games for ESPN.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Foster, Worrilow, 49ers, Chip

In a development that could hurt his draft stock, Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster is being sent home from the combine after he and a hospital worker engaged in a “heated argument,” reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter links). What’s more, Foster’s combine interviews didn’t go particularly well, per Matt Miller of Bleacher Report and Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Foster was supposed to continue interviews with teams Saturday, but he’ll instead head home to Tuscaloosa. As of last week, one club had Foster ranked as the third-best player in this year’s class. He at least looked like a shoo-in top 10 pick prior to Friday, though that’s now in question.

As we wait for more on Foster, let’s take a look around the NFL:

  • Falcons impending free agent linebacker Paul Worrilow has drawn interest from the Patriots, Lions, Eagles and Colts leading up to March 9, relays Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (Twitter link). The 26-year-old wasn’t much of a factor last season as a member of the NFC champions, with whom he collected one start and 18 tackles in 12 games. But Worrilow did garner significant playing time with the Falcons from 2013-15, when he logged 47 appearances, 42 starts and made between 95 and 143 tackles in each season. Worrilow also totaled four sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions during that three-year span.
  • Former Eagles and 49ers head coach Chip Kelly hasn’t been able to find an NFL job this offseason, even as an assistant, and is now trying to break into the media ranks. Kelly auditioned for FOX last week, tweets Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson.
  • Kelly’s successor in San Francisco, Kyle Shanahan, isn’t impressed with the 49ers’ pass catchers, writes Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. When asked which of the 49ers’ receivers and tight ends have stood out on film, Shanahan said, “No one in particular,” and added that the club will look for help this offseason. Jeremy Kerley and Quinton Patton, the 49ers’ top receivers from 2016, are set to become free agents, making the need to add options all the more obvious. San Francisco might pursue Alshon Jeffery in free agency, and signing him would give the team a much-needed No. 1 target.
  • Defensive guru Monte Kiffin is leaving the Jaguars to join up with son Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic University, Alex Marvez of The Sporting News writes. The elder Kiffin, 77, only spent one season in Jacksonville, where he worked as a defensive assistant.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Chip Kelly Not Interested In Alabama’s OC Job

Former 49ers/Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was viewed as a legitimate candidate for the Falcons’ offensive coordinator position, but now that that role has been filled by former Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian, Kelly has no interest in replacing Sarkisian in Tuscaloosa or accepting any other collegiate job, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Instead, Kelly hopes to remain in the NFL and ultimately land another head coaching or play-calling gig, per Cole.Chip Kelly (Vertical)

[RELATED: 2017 Head Coaching Search Tracker]

The idea that Kelly is eyeing an NFL job jibes with reports from earlier this offseason which indicated Kelly wanted to immediately jump back into the coordinator ranks. The problem, as our 2017 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Tracker shows, is that every offensive coordinator vacancy in the NFL is now occupied. Kelly was in consideration for at least two of those jobs, as he interviewed with the Jaguars in addition to receiving interest from Atlanta. Additionally, Kelly recently met with the Patriots and close friend Bill Belichick, and could potentially take a position with New England.

Indeed, the most likely outcome for Kelly entails him taking some sort of offensive assistant/consultant job, and waiting for more coordinator vacancies to open in 2018.

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Rams To Pursue Matt LaFleur As OC

The Rams will request permission to speak with Falcons quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur about their offensive coordinator position, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. LaFleur and new Rams head coach Sean McVay once worked together in Washington, and McVay believes LaFleur can implement his offense and help quarterback Jared Goff reach his potential. According to Schefter, the interest is mutual.

November 8, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers defeated the Falcons 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

LaFleur, of course, would be a logical candidate to replace Kyle Shanahan as the Falcons’ OC, as Shanahan is set to accept the 49ers’ head coaching job. Just last week, LaFleur was also mentioned as a candidate to join Shanahan in the Bay Area as the 49ers’ new offensive coordinator, but now another California team could be in the lead for his services.

Atlanta, meanwhile, has expressed interest in Chip Kelly as their next offensive coordinator, and according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Kelly would have a real shot at the job if he keeps Shanahan’s system in place. Per Rapoport, LaFleur knows that he will be targeted by both the Rams and 49ers, but in the week leading up the Super Bowl, his mind was singularly focused on helping Atlanta capture its first Lombardi Trophy, and he was unwilling to discuss his future at length (Twitter link).

The 37-year-old LaFleur has served as an offensive assistant at both the collegiate and professional levels, with his most recent college job coming as the Notre Dame quarterbacks coach in 2014. He served in the same capacity with the Redskins from 2010-2013.

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Chip Kelly Legit OC Candidate For Falcons

Just over a week after the Falcons expressed interest in having Chip Kelly become their next offensive coordinator, the former Eagles and 49ers head coach has emerged as a “legitimate candidate” to land the role, reports Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Kelly would take over for Kyle Shanahan, who will replace Kelly as the 49ers’ head coach after the Falcons take on the Patriots in Super Bowl LI this Sunday.

Chip Kelly (vertical)

The fact that there aren’t any other proven offensive coordinator candidates on the market makes Kelly a viable option for Atlanta, Schultz notes. Long an offensive guru, the 53-year-old Kelly would inherit an enviable collection of talent in Atlanta, whose attack has laid waste to opposing defenses this season. The Matt Ryan-, Julio Jones– and Devonta Freeman-led unit topped the NFL in both scoring and DVOA during the regular season, and it has combined for 78 points in playoff wins over the Seahawks and Packers.

Kelly is known for running a fast-paced offense, which helped lead to his downfall in both Philadelphia and San Francisco, but the ex-Oregon head coach’s NFL failures have “humbled” him, according to Schultz. As a result, Kelly is willing to slow things down, which he’d have to do in order to accommodate the Falcons’ offensive weapons and make life easier on the team’s defense.

Shanahan, meanwhile, won’t be able to take any significant members of head coach Dan Quinn‘s staff with him to San Francisco. The Falcons will prevent him from pilfering the likes of assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Raheem Morris, running backs coach Bobby Turner and offensive line coach Chris Morgan, a source told Schultz. However, offensive assistants Mike McDaniel, Mike LaFleur and Matt LaFleur could end up with Shanahan’s 49ers.

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Coaching Notes: Raiders, Eagles, Kelly, Shanahan

The Raiders announced that they have hired former Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano as their assistant head coach-defense. Pagano will be reuniting with head coach Jack Del Rio, as the duo worked together in New Orleans.

The 49-year-old had been coaching in San Diego since the early 2000s. After serving as the Chargers linebackers coach, Pagano was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012, and he ultimately held that position for five seasons. However, following the hiring of head coach Anthony Lynn, it looked like Pagano’s tenure with the organization was coming to an end. That was made abundantly clear last week after the Chargers hired Gus Bradley as their new defensive coordinator.

Ken Norton Jr. will remain the Raiders’ defensive coordinator, but Pagano will certainly help a unit that struggled at times during the 2016 season. The Raiders ranked 26th in yards allowed, and they finished with the fewest sacks in the NFL.

Lets take a look at some more coaching notes from around the league…

  • Eagles wide receivers coach Greg Lewis is expected to take the same position with the Chiefs, reports Alex Marvez of Sporting News (via Twitter). The former NFL wideout joined the Eagles coaching staff last offseason after serving as a Saints’ offensive assistant during the 2015 season.
  • CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora would be “very, very surprised” if Chip Kelly ultimately replaces Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (Twitter link). This move would have been a bit ironic, as Shanahan is set to replace Kelly as the head coach of the 49ers. Instead of moving to Atlanta, La Canfora suggest Kelly could catch on with the Patriots as a consultant/assistant.
  • Speaking of Shanahan, Falcons coach Dan Quinn says the coordinator is set to meet with the 49ers on Saturday. “I’m really proud of him because it’s not easy to do when there is a lot of speculation and things going outside of your world to stay dialed in,” Quinn said (via Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “It’s one that should be commended. Being on point and going for it, he totally nailed that.”
  • The Redskins have promoted Chad Englehart to head strength and conditioning coach, reports Jake Kring-Schreifels of Redskins.com. Englehart has served as the team’s assistant strength and conditioning coach over the past seven seasons. The organization hired Kavan Latham to fill Englehart’s previous role.

Falcons Interested In Chip Kelly As OC

The Falcons are getting a head start on replacing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who is likely to become the next 49ers head coach. Atlanta is already lining up candidates for OC, and the club has expressed interest in former San Francisco/Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (Twitter link).Chip Kelly (Vertical)

[RELATED: Falcons To Pursue Matt Ryan Extension]

Kelly has met with at least one club since being dismissed by the 49ers, interviewing with the Jaguars about both their head coaching vacancy and their offensive coordinator position. Both of those roles were filled by internal candidates, as Jacksonville promoted Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett to head coach and OC, respectively. Kelly also planned to meet with the Patriots and friend Bill Belichick, and was indeed spotted at Thursday’s practice session, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com.

Kelly, 53, posted a mixed record during his two head coaching stints, but does seem to want to remain in the NFL as an offensive coordinator. Despite poor results during the past few years, Kelly can still point to 2013 — his first season in the league — as a success after directing the Eagles’ offense to a No. 3 DVOA ranking and coaching quarterback Nick Foles to a 27:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Concerns about the quick pace of Kelly’s offense, and its negative effect on his club’s own defense, could continue to hinder Kelly’s job prospects, however.

While other potential candidates for the Falcons OC job aren’t yet known, internal options could include quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur and offensive assistant Mike McDaniel, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com noted earlier this month.

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Chip Kelly To Meet With Patriots?

Following the Jaguars’ decision not to hire Chip Kelly as their offensive coordinator, the recently fired coach plans to meet with the Patriots, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reports. Details of this meeting are scarce, but Mortensen points to Kelly having an advocate for a place in the NFL in Bill Belichick. The perennially successful Patriots coach and Kelly have exchanged football concepts since Kelly’s days at Oregon, per Mortensen.

Tom Coughlin was behind the push for Kelly to receive an extensive look for the Jags’ OC job, and the former Eagles and 49ers coach believed he would be offered the position during his interview earlier this week. Although Coughlin urged Doug Marrone to explore adding Kelly to the Jacksonville staff as OC or in another offensive capacity, Marrone didn’t end up seeing a fit. The Jags gave the job to interim OC Nathaniel Hackett, but Kelly could have a chance to interview for a consultant-type role with the Patriots.

New England obviously has an offensive coordinator after Josh McDaniels announced he was withdrawing his name from consideration for the 49ers’ HC job. But the Patriots have a recent history in bringing coaches as unspecified assistants.

After an unmemorable stint as the Rams’ OC, McDaniels returned to New England during the 2011 playoffs despite Bill O’Brien‘s then-presence as the team’s OC. However, O’Brien had announced he was taking the Penn State job in the days prior, so a more logical role existed for McDaniels than one would for Kelly. Brian Daboll also rejoined his former team during the 2012 playoffs after being fired by the Chiefs, adding to the unique history here.

The Jaguars’ job and this prospective summit represent the only known NFL offseason interest for Kelly, whom the 49ers fired after a 2-14 season.

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