The Philadelphia Eagles hoped they would be playing football this weekend, or would at least be waiting to see who their next opponent would be. But instead of playing on wild card weekend or waiting for the divisional playoffs, the Eagles are busy trying to find their new coach on Jan. 5. And while their first choice will finally talk with Philadelphia today, the organization hopes that the Cleveland Browns didn’t make too good of a sale pitch yesterday.
Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly met with the Browns on Jan. 4, then rumors spread that Cleveland was the new favorite to land him instead of Philadelphia. According to CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman on Jan. 5, the Browns were “cautiously optimistic” about their chances for Kelly, while another Cleveland source told him they thought they were the front-runners.
However, the Eagles have been considered the front-runners for some time now, and they will finally get their chance to pitch to him on Jan. 5. Although Cleveland got the head start, Philadelphia hopes that its tradition, star power and need for new blood will put it over the top.
Yet Freeman predicts that Kelly is playing these teams against each other, to get “as much power over personnel as possible.” This could give the Eagles pause, since giving Andy Reid too much personnel control backfired on him and the franchise. Giving it to an untested NFL coach like Kelly might be too much of a leap of faith.
But with the buzz around Kelly and the need for the Eagles and Browns to become relevant again, these teams may get desperate enough to give him what he wants. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had their chance to sign him last season, yet they didn’t blink at his demands and he ultimately backed away.
The Buccaneers landed Greg Schiano and briefly contended for the postseason in 2012, so they got the better end of the deal for now. But the Eagles have greater goals than that and need to become winners again as quickly as possible. Now that Kelly has made his play with the Browns, can he use it for leverage to squeeze the Eagles even further?
The Buffalo Bills are also waiting to talk to Kelly this weekend, so the game could become even more complicated soon enough. Is it a game that Philadelphia can afford to play -- or to lose?