The Philadelphia Eagles need other serious coaching candidates besides Chip Kelly, just in case. Bill O’Brien was widely considered to be a top Eagles backup choice, and perhaps the leading choice for other NFL teams. However, O’Brien took himself out of the running on Jan. 3 and will remain a Penn State Nittany Lion instead.
O’Brien confirmed to Pennlive.com on Jan. 3 that he informed Penn State he wouldn’t leave for the NFL. He stated he isn’t a “one-and-done guy” although that one year at Penn State in 2012 made him one of the hottest prospective names on the NFL circuit.
His 8-4 record with a crippled Nittany Lions program, and his experience as offensive coordinator for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, made O’Brien just as hot a prospect as Kelly. But with O’Brien off the market, the Eagles and other interested teams have one less candidate to consider.
The Eagles already had a chance to talk to O’Brien on Jan. 3 before he made his final decision, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane. He wrote that meeting with the Eagles and Cleveland Browns made O’Brien “able to gain leverage at Penn State.”
Yet given what O’Brien did for the Nittany Lions in 2012, the school was likely already desperate enough to keep him. Either way, for the first time in a long time, Penn State’s greatest wishes came true.
However, this makes it even more imperative that the Eagles either get Kelly now, or find another suitable second choice just as quickly. They’ve already talked to Atlanta Falcons assistants Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong, and will meet with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Jan. 6, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
If former NFL coaches like Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher show interest in coming back, Philadelphia would do well to talk to them as well if it becomes necessary. But for the moment, with O’Brien no longer an option, it seems it will either be Kelly or bust for the Eagles.
The process on that end will finally move forward this weekend, when Kelly talks to the Eagles, Browns and Buffalo Bills. With one less second option for all these teams, their push for Kelly will become even more intense, if that was possible.