When Chip Kelly was introduced as head coach of the Eagles last week, he made a point of emphasizing that his decision about his coaching future came down to staying at Oregon or heading to Philadelphia.
He never mentioned the Browns as a team that was in strong consideration for his services even though they were the first team to speak to him about moving to the NFL. The Browns waited for a decisions from Kelly and then “rebooted” their coaching search while sending out signals that they walked away from Kelly because they sensed he was waffling about leaving the college ranks.
The Browns passed on comment when Kelly was hired last week, but they aren’t just sending out signals anymore. In an interview for Monday Morning Quarterback, Browns CEO Joe Banner, who spent some time accusing Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie of libelous talk last week, told Peter King that Kelly was too much of a roll of the dice.
“We removed ourselves from the process. We really liked Chip. He’s intriguing, a very different thinker, and very smart. But you could see he was uncertain what he wanted to do,” Banner said. “He may be in Philadelphia 10 years or longer and have a terrific career. But the fact he committed to Tampa Bay last year, backed out, then seemed all year to be leaning toward going to the NFL, then being so uncertain with us, we just felt it was too big a gamble. If there was no ambivalence, we may have offered him the job.”
There’s a gamble involved with every coaching hire, be it ambivalence in Kelly’s case or the lack of a head coaching track record in the case of Browns coach Rob Chudzinski. While we don’t doubt that the Browns were able to appreciate the obvious indecision on Kelly’s part when it came to leaving Oregon, things played out in a way that makes it hard to believe the Browns didn’t want him to be their coach earlier this month.