Oregon head coach Chip Kelly may leave Arizona with a bowl game victory and an NFL job.
Kelly is inching towards a deal that would bring the 49-year-old and his high-flying offense to the Cleveland Browns, according to the Associated Press. Kelly is still scheduled to meet with the Philadelphia Eagles, and also spoke to the Buffalo Bills on Friday.
The Browns and their new ownership group are looking to make a huge splash by bringing in a coach whose offense is already being mimicked around the NFL.
Kelly has led the Ducks to four straight BCS bowl games, and has done so with a hurry-up and power rushing attack. Oregon was second in the nation in rushing yards per game, with running backs Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas punishing opposing defenses.
Should he sign with Cleveland, Kelly will work with Browns running back Trent Richardson, who battled knee and rib injuries throughout his rookie season but still tallied 950 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Browns will also have a second-year quarterback in Brandon Weeden, who threw 17 interceptions but showed flashes of talent that Kelly can put to good use.
Kelly met with Cleveland for seven hours, according to ESPN, but the coach also said after Thursday’s Fiesta Bowl victory that he wanted to speed through the interview process.
With Kelly possibly out of contention, the Eagles have turned their attention to several of the NFL’s top assistants. Philadelphia is looking at Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Arians was the Colts interim coach while Chuck Pagano was treated for leukemia this season, and Indianapolis improved by nine-wins and made the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 5 seed. He will meet with the Eagles after the Colts playoff matchup with the Baltimore Ravens Sunday.
The Seahawks all-around dominant defense are a big reason Seattle nearly won the NFC West. Bradley led a group that was sixth against the pass and 10th versus the run. His scheme for the Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins could be an audition of sorts for the Eagles or any other team.
Buffalo also appears to have a contingency plan. The Bills met with the recently fired Lovie Smith on Friday. Smith spent nine seasons with the Chicago Bears, and guided them to Super Bowl XLI. Still he was fired after the Bears squandered a 7-1 start and missed the playoffs this season.
Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is also a candidate for the Eagles and the Bills.