After guiding the Oregon Ducks to a dominant 35-17 victory in the Fiesta Bowl, head coach Chip Kelly can settle into the numerous offers and interviews that await him from NFL teams.
Kelly will reportedly meet with the Cleveland Browns this weekend, and also interviewed with the Buffalo Bills on Friday.
After a terrible start to the season, the Browns won five of their last 11 games, and running back Trent Richardson could be Kelly’s new toy at the next level. The Browns' third overall pick in 2012 powered through injuries for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns. With a year to recuperate, Richardson and young quarterback Brandon Weeden could be an intriguing fit in Kelly’s offensive schemes.
The Bills had a disastrous season under Chan Gailey, and were second to last in the NFL in rush defense despite inking top free agent Mario Williams to the richest contract ever given to a defensive player. Williams is guaranteed $50 million throughout the life of the six-year deal.
Buffalo can offer Kelly a chance to participate in their expansion into the Toronto market, and the opportunity to coach top running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
Oregon boasted the nation’s second highest rushing attack in 2012, and Kelly’s break-neck offense can open up lanes for the emerging Spiller, who more than doubled his career-high with 1,244 rushing yards and six touchdowns this season. Jackson was used in a limited capacity after sustaining a leg injury early in the season, but does provide some much-needed depth.
One drawback is quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw 16 interceptions and finished with an uninspiring 83.3 in passer rating. At 6-10, the Bills will have a Top 10 pick in next year’s draft, but there are few quarterbacks to choose from, and Kelly may want to address other issues with the selection.
Philadelphia is another rumored destination, and has the talent on both sides of the ball to entice Kelly out of Eugene. LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are two of the top young offensive weapons in the league, though Nick Foles may not be the type of quarterback Kelly employs in his system. The team is expected to release Michael Vick, who reportedly did not want to restructure his contract.
Then there’s the Panthers, who have yet to say whether they will give head coach Ron Rivera another year with quarterback Cam Newton. Carolina finished the season with wins in five of their final six games, including victories over NFC South rivals Atlanta and New Orleans. That late run might have saved Rivera's job.