Source: Browns close to naming Kelly new head coach
CLEVELAND — Chip Kelly is close to taking his fast-paced offense to the NFL.
A person familiar with the negotiations says the Cleveland Browns are nearing a deal with Oregon's offensive mastermind to be their next coach.
The Browns interviewed Kelly on Friday, and the Ducks coach was supposed to meet with Philadelphia in Arizona. However, a person familiar with the interviews says the Eagles are “heading in another direction” because Kelly is nearing a deal with Cleveland.
That person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team isn't discussing its negotiations publicly, said the Eagles planned to interview several other candidates regardless of any conversations with Kelly.
After Oregon's win over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday, the 49-year-old Kelly said he wanted to get the interview process over “quickly.”
He turned down an offer from Tampa Bay last year to return for his fourth season at Oregon, where he is 46-7. He has boosted the school's national profile — flashy uniforms helped — with a high-powered offense capable of turning any game into a track meet.
“It's more a fact-finding mission, finding out if it fits or doesn't fit,” Kelly said after the Ducks beat No. 7 Kansas State, 35-17. “I've been in one interview in my life for the National Football League, and that was a year ago. I don't really have any preconceived notions about it. I think that's what this deal is all about for me. It's not going to affect us in terms of we're not on the road (recruiting). I'll get an opportunity if people do call, see where they are.
“I want to get it wrapped up quickly and figure out where I'm going to be.”
Kelly has been at the top of the Browns' list of candidates since the team fired Pat Shurmur, who went 9-23 in two seasons. Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have been conducting interviews in Arizona all week, searching for the team's sixth coach since 1999.
The Browns, who have only made the playoffs once in 14 seasons, have declined comment on any interviews.
Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton confirmed he interviewed with Cleveland earlier this week. The Browns reportedly have met with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and Penn State's Bill O'Brien, who removed himself from any consideration Thursday night and intends to stay at the school. Kelly doesn't have any NFL coaching experience, but aspects of his up-tempo offense are already being used by some teams. Kelly wouldn't say if he was leaning one way or another following the Ducks' bowl win.
“I said I'll always listen, and that's what I'll do,” he said. “I know that people want to talk to me because of our players. The success of our football program has always been about our guys. It's an honor for someone to say they'd want to talk to me about maybe moving on to go coach in the National Football League. But it's because of what those guys do. I'll listen, and we'll see.”
Oregon could be facing possible NCAA sanctions for the school's use of recruiting services, but Kelly indicated he isn't running from anything.
“We've cooperated fully with them,” he said. “If they want to talk to us again, we'll continue to cooperate fully. I feel confident in the situation.”