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Chip Kelly saves Philadelphia Eagles in one fell swoop

After a zany, confusing and occasionally embarrassing head-coaching search, the Philadelphia Eagles got their man, dropping a bomb on the NFL.

On Wednesday, the Eagles announced that they had hired Chip Kelly. Hold on while I pick my jaw up off the ground.


In one fell swoop, the Eagles have saved face -- and their franchise.

Philadelphia's hunt for a new coach had turned into a bit of a punch line recently. Less than two weeks ago, it seemed that Kelly was going to stay at Oregon after interviewing with both the Eagles and the Cleveland Browns. Another candidate, Bill O'Brien, had decided to stay at Penn State. Philadelphia also had been interested in Doug Marrone, but he slipped away while they waited for Kelly to make up his mind, joining the Buffalo Bills.

The Eagles then brought in a series of second-tier assistants (like Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley) and former head coaches (Brian Billick), any of whom would have left the rabid Eagles fans in an uproar had they been hired.

Now we won't hear any more chatter about general manager Howie Roseman scaring off candidates. He deserves credit for helping to convince Kelly to come aboard, as Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.

The once seemingly defunct Eagles now have life again. They have sizzle.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie likely knew back in September that Andy Reid was going to be the ex-coach of the Eagles. After the incredible run Reid had with the franchise, Lurie had to go big with his next hire. He had to inspire. And after initially being spurned, Lurie and Roseman delivered.

Kelly isn't Steve Spurrier. He's going to be a big success in the NFL.

He's bright. He'll use his system, but he's not going to force it. Like all great coaches in sports (Bill Belichick, Pat Riley, Joe Torre), Kelly will adapt to the talent around him.

Expect the Eagles to run an up-tempo offense, like Kelly's Oregon teams. Running backs LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown will be great, but Philadelphia does need a franchise quarterback. Michael Vick would be a better fit than Nick Foles in Kelly's system, but I'm sure Kelly will want to add a new signal-caller or two. Perhaps Matt Flynn or Alex Smith might make sense. And, of course, there is another athletic quarterback who would surely like a change of scenery: Tim Tebow.

Questioning Kelly's approach? Have you watched football this year? High-octane offenses work. Gimmick offenses can work.

You know who approves of this move? None other than coaching legend John Madden.

"I think it is a good get," Madden said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "If you look at football today, it is going towards what colleges are doing. Teams are trying to copy, and being successful with, what he does. Defensive coordinators are going to be on their heels."

As the Boston Globe's Greg A. Bedard reported in October, Kelly influenced the changes Belichick made to the Patriots' offense.

That's Bill Belichick we're talking about. Of the New England Patriots.

There are still details to work out. Kelly's coaching staff will be ultra-important. In the wake of the Juan Castillo failure, Kelly needs a strong, well-respected defensive coordinator. He also needs a legit offensive line coach.

Going to the college ranks for a coach is always a bit of a risk. But as I wrote in November, Greg Schiano's success with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has shown teams that the strategy can work.

Kelly isn't going to just be good. He's going to be great.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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