Chip Kelly seems like a man long separated from his first NFL coaching gig with the Philadelphia Eagles, but it was just a few months ago that he was game planning for the team's season-finale against the Giants when he was fired by owner Jeffrey Lurie.
- Remaining free agents
- NFC free agency grades
- AFC free agency grades
- Free agency winners and losers
- Seven riskiest free-agent signings
- Robert Griffin III signs with Cleveland Browns
- Wesseling: Which franchises are on the rise?
- Collateral damage: Players hurt by free agency
- Collateral benefits: Players aided by free agency
Wednesday's NFC Coaches Breakfast was the first time he spoke with members of the Philadelphia media since his stunning dismissal. Kelly was firm on one point: He did not win enough games to remain the head coach of the Eagles (he went 26-21 over three seasons). He did, however, admit to working under a power structure he found "weird." Kelly also continued to deny that he asked for control of the roster, or that he was in charge of the team's personnel.
"I didn't like the way it was, but I didn't ask for anything," Kelly said, via USA Today. "It's (the owner's) organization and it's his team. He can run it however he wants to run it. It wasn't like I was going to say, 'I'm walking out the door.'"
Kelly said he rarely spoke with Howie Roseman, who was shifted into a different role once Kelly was given an increase in power. Roseman is now the team's executive vice president of football operations, but in his salary-cap role in 2015, Kelly said Roseman was behind the balky deals for DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell.
"We met after the (2014) season and discussed what was going on. It ultimately was his decision," Kelly said of getting control of the 90-man roster. "But I didn't ask for anything ... I would have been content to just go hire a general manager."
For his part, Lurie said at a news conference after Kelly's firing in December: "I wanted to make Chip accountable for everything he wanted to happen ... that is what he insisted on."
Kelly seems to be playing the NFL's most annoying game of semantics at this point, and really no side will ever come away with the closure they are looking for. If Lurie is right and Kelly demanded personnel control, then the failed experiment is on Kelly's shoulders. He should have known that ousting an executive who would still be in charge of a vital portion of the operation would put everyone in a terrible spot. More than anything, coaching is a CEO-type role in today's NFL.
If Kelly is telling the truth and Lurie insisted on the move, then shame on him for the same reason.
What Wednesday's development shows us is the power of a good relationship between coaching, personnel and ownership. There is a reason the Ravens, Steelers, Giants, Cardinals, Patriots, Bengals, Packers and Seahawks never seem completely out of the race. There is a reason the Browns are trying to re-think the NFL's front-office structure and place a proven mediator between ownership, personnel and coaching to avoid devastating arguments. Anything is possible when everyone is moving in the right direction.