Where Does Chip Kelly Fit Best in the NFL?


Oregon head coach Chip Kelly will meet with his agent, David Dunn, today and will likely prepare for interviews with the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, and Buffalo Bills.

Jan 3, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly at press conference after the 2013 Fiesta Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at University of Phoenix Stadium. Oregon defeated Kansas 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

About a month ago, we went through the benefits and negatives of Kelly moving on to the NFL. Despite beliefs, it looks like it’s destined for the Oregon head coach to move on to the next level.

In Fiesta Bowl postgame interviews, players seem humbled to have Kelly as their coach. It was as if they’ve accepted the fact that Kelly will be moving on. Even Kelly himself looked and sounded like he was guy that was ready to move to the next challenge.

There’s no reason to think differently, Kelly has shown how well he plans and prepares for games. His mentality is perfect for any level of football, and anybody that shrugs him off as an “offensive-only coach” clearly hasn’t paid attention to his tenure. He took an Oregon team and went 46-7 in four years with them, 2-2 in BCS bowl games, and being a field goal kick away from another national title with this young of a team is a triumph. Plus, he was right on one thing – this was his best defense.

Does someone else have that kind of resume in the first four years of head coaching at the FBS level?

The question that remains is among those three teams, where would Kelly fit best? At first glance, the Eagles may be the best job. Michael Vick is the quarterback that closely resembles an offense that Kelly would run, but can he stay away from injuries and emulate a season he had two years ago? Kelly would look at a huge rebuilding project on the offensive line, something he’s benefitted from at Oregon. Along with needing a couple running backs and completely changing the offense, it would take quite a few years to get something rolling in Philly.

But, how far away are Cleveland and Buffalo? The Browns look like way too much of a rebuilding project. How good are those lines on both sides of the ball? None of the quarterbacks on that roster provide mobility enough to change a play like Mariota did multiple times last night, scrambling for a first down on a third-and-long.

Jan. 3, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks celebrate by dumping the Gatorade all over Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Ducks defeated the Wildcats 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

If anything, the Bills look like the best bet. Football Outsiders showcased running back C.J. Spiller as one of the highest-valued running backs on a team and ranked him third in the NFL, above San Francisco’s Frank Gore and Washington’s Alfred Morris. Both lines are in the top half of the league, providing enough room for Kelly to implement a different quarterback and run more of a style of offense that he can excel with. Obviously, Ryan Fitzpatrick will need to be spared unless he’s able to become mobile for the first time ever.

Bottom line, Cleveland would take the longest time for Kelly to build something. Philadelphia provides a quarterback and an underrated defense, but the health and questionable time Vick has left gives too many questions to how long it would take for this team to succeed. Buffalo would take the shortest amount of time with a roster that has the most talent of the three teams, features the best lines on both sides of the ball, and are honestly just a quarterback away with Spiller guiding a run-dominated offense. Yes, Kelly’s offense would probably change slightly in the NFL, but it’s doubtful he would completely go away from what he’s comfortable with.

Brian Spaen is the lead editor of Autzen Zoo and Clones Confidential. Follow more Oregon Ducks coverage with the zoo on Twitter.