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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Eagles' hiring of Chip Kelly raises plenty of questions for Browns

By Marla Ridenour Published: January 16, 2013

Questions (with few answers) about the Eagles’ hiring of Chip Kelly:

I remain steadfast in my support of the Browns hiring of Rob Chudzinski and my belief that Chip Kelly’s fast-paced spread offense would have been too risky of a move for this franchise. But the announcement Wednesday that Kelly was bound for Philadelphia after his Jan. 4 flirtation with the Browns raised many questions.

Among them:

Q: Was Kelly dissing the Browns or did he learn more about coming NCAA sanctions at Oregon in the 11 days since his seven-hour session with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner?
A: My guess is it’s probably the former. Contrary to what Haslam and Banner said about the Browns being one of the most attractive jobs, I don’t believe the team is seen that way in coaching circles, especially in the post-1999 era. Browns’ history will have little effect these days; even the Kardiac Kids’ tradition has molded over. No one knows what kind of owner Haslam will be or what kind of football man Banner will be.

Q: Was Kelly just using the Browns for practice for the interview he really wanted?
A: I think this is entirely possible. It happens all the time in business (or least it used to). If Kelly did not come off well by the end of his marathon talk with the Browns, that would make sense if his heart wasn’t in it. The same was true for me when I interviewed at my hometown paper, the Courier Journal in Louisville, Ky., many years ago. I thought the Gannett-owned paper was a shell of the one I read growing up as a teenager and I’m sure that attitude came through.

Q: Did Kelly like the Eagles’ quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Nick Foles) over the Browns (Brandon Weeden , Colt McCoy and Thad Lewis)?
A: I’d give this one a resounding yes, even if Vick’s days in the league are numbered. No way Weeden stayed long in Cleveland if Kelly were the coach. McCoy may be mobile, but probably still not ideal for a Kelly team. This is not a good quarterback draft, with none projected in the first round in ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.'s first mock. Kelly might be able to revive Vick’s career, especially mentally, although physically I don’t know how many games he’ll last. Foles showed potential in 2012.

Q: Was Kelly scared away by the football powers given to Banner?
A: Absolutely. That’s why I think the Browns ended up with Chudzinski. Big-name coaches (and perhaps even a recycled one like Ken Whisenhunt) didn’t want to come here with the restrictions imposed by the Browns’ new structure with Banner heading football operations.

Q: Did Haslam and Banner have doubts about Kelly the man, not Kelly the coach?
A: Totally possible. According to a tweet Wednesday from Nico Falah, a Bellflower, Calif., offensive tackle who has committed to USC, Kelly was just at his house two days ago. Kelly also left Oregon the day after the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft. Those might not be examples of character flaws, but…

Q: Did the Eagles disparage Banner in their talks with Kelly?
A: The subject could have come up, especially as desperate as the Eagles were in their search. More likely, the Eagles sold Kelly on general manager Howie Roseman as a talent evaluator. Like former GM Tom Heckert or not, the Browns have to be perceived weak in this area, especially with the next GM/player personnel director unhired.

Q: What more can go wrong for the Browns this off-season?
A: The unlikely possibility that a certain former president returns to coaching would be even more of a kick in the teeth than Kelly to the Eagles.



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