Oregon coach Chip Kelly is expected to get at least one NFL job offer after his team plays in Thursday’s Fiesta Bowl. But as successful as Kelly’s system has been at the college level, Kelly himself admits that he has no basis for saying whether or not it would work at the next level.
“Don’t know, haven’t been there,” Kelly said.
Three NFL head coaches left college head-coaching jobs to take their current positions, but all three of them had very different backgrounds than Kelly: Jim Harbaugh was an NFL player for 14 seasons and an NFL assistant for two seasons before getting the head job at Stanford and then jumping to the 49ers. Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach in two different spots and had four different NFL assistant jobs before becoming head coach at USC and then leaving for the Seahawks. And Greg Schiano had three seasons of experience as an NFL assistant before going to Rutgers and then leaving for the Buccaneers.
Kelly, on the other hand, has zero NFL experience and had never even had any experience in major college football before Oregon hired him, first plucking him out of relative obscurity at the University of New Hampshire to coordinate the Ducks’ offense, and then promoting him to head coach. And Kelly is a much less conventional coach than Harbaugh, Carroll and Schiano: Kelly runs a spread offense that has only very recently begun to be incorporated in the NFL, and he also has a different approach to game day strategies and play calling: Kelly will go for two at times when any NFL coach would kick an extra point, he’ll go for it on fourth down at times when any NFL coach would punt, and he generally delights in taking the unconventional approach to his business.
But Kelly does say he believes he can accommodate his style of coaching to any type of personnel on his team.
“There’s a lot of ways to play football,” Kelly said. “Trends go one way and the other. . . . Any coach is going to learn from other people and see how they can implement it in their system. Anything you do has to be personnel driven. You have to adapt to the personnel you have. There’s a lot of great offenses out there, but does it fit with the personnel you have. The key is making sure what you’re doing is giving your people a chance to be successful.”
With both the Eagles and the Browns expected to interview Kelly this week, and other teams potentially having interest as well, Kelly will almost certainly get the opportunity to show that he can be successful in the NFL.