Chip Kelly to the NFL? Deal reportedly imminent with Cleveland Browns

Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly looks on during the second half against the Kansas State Wildcats during the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Ducks beats the Wildcats 35-17. (Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

After trouncing Kansas State to win the Fiesta Bowl, 35-17, Oregon fans could be heard chanting ‘we want Kelly’ throughout the University of Phoenix stadium.

Those fans already understood what is looking more and more like an absolute certainty: The Fiesta Bowl was in all likelihood Chip Kelly’s final game at the helm of the program he almost single-handedly raised to the level of the elite.

Reports that Kelly would be interviewing for the Cleveland Browns’ vacant head coaching position just a day after the final game of the season were confirmed on Friday. However, not only did Kelly talk to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner, but the three have already begun hammering out contract details.

A season ago, Kelly nearly accepted the head coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He only backed out at the last minute, and the job went to former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.

While Kelly did not take the job, he had made it apparent that he was willing to look very deeply at an NFL coaching job. Thus, when the seasons ended at both the pro and collegiate levels, Browns, Eagles and Bills all put Kelly at the top of their respective short lists.

Philadelphia and Buffalo will now have to look in different directions after being thwarted by both Kelly and Bill O’Brien, who will be staying put at Penn State.

As for Kelly, if indeed he is in Cleveland next season, the offensive guru will seem to have quite a personnel issue on his hands. He revolutionized a type of high-paced, spread out rushing attack, with a speedy quarterback at the crux of the game plan.

Last season, the Browns used a first round draft pick to select Brandon Weeden. Now going into his second year, Weeden is already 29 after playing minor league baseball and does not have the legs Kelly’s dual-threat passers have boasted at the collegiate level. Josh Cribbs is an all-everything type of player; new-school fans of the game might love to see him under center, running every which way against NFL defenses.

Of course, the multi-million dollar question is how well Kelly adjusts his offense to fit into a more pro-style framework, and the men he chooses to trot out onto the field will prove a big part of whether Kelly sinks or swims in the world’s biggest pond.

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