THE EAGLES' front-office power shift was all Jeffrey Lurie's doing, Chip Kelly said yesterday. Oh, and trading way up for Marcus Mariota? Not gonna happen.
The team's 2015 quarterback? Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez, probably Bradford if he's healthy, from the tone of Kelly's remarks.
Chip gets along just fine with Howie Roseman, he said, but the much-questioned drafting of Marcus Smith in the first round last year was Howie's fault.
Anything we missed, hot-button topicwise?
With no warning, the Eagles coach suddenly stepped up to the NovaCare auditorium mic, just before Brandon Graham was scheduled to talk about his new contract. Kelly addressed all the questions reporters have been unable to ask him for the past 2-plus months.
His questioners blinked and sputtered a bit, like someone who'd been kept in a dark place for 10 weeks, suddenly thrust into bright sunlight.
The first order of business was the Jan. 2 reshuffling of the front office, in which Roseman lost the general manager's title and his say on personnel matters. Days earlier, in the locker room following the final game at the Giants, team chairman Lurie had ridiculed the idea that Roseman might not continue as GM.
"I just had a meeting with [Lurie] like I do at the end of every year, in terms of the direction of what we're doing and how we go from being a 10-6 team to a team that can win the Super Bowl. That was a decision that Jeffrey made," Kelly said. "I feel like we have an understanding. We have a vision of what we want for our football players here, and I think we can articulate that, and I think that's what we are trying to go out and get."
Neither Lurie nor Roseman has spoken with reporters since the restructuring.
Kelly said he had no input into moving Roseman's office away from the offices of the other football decision-makers.
"I didn't make any suggestions" to Lurie, Kelly said. "I just talked about the vision of what this thing is, and he came back to me with what he wanted to do and how he wanted to run this."
When the changes were announced, the Eagles released a long statement from Lurie in which Lurie spoke of Kelly having "articulated a dynamic and clear vision on how this fully integrated approach will work."
So, it wasn't Chip's idea, but his vision of how it would all work swayed Lurie? OK.
Kelly said that the decision to part with personnel VP Tom Gamble was made "on the other side" (presumably by Roseman), and that he could do nothing about it. (Kelly took over full say 2 days after Gamble was dismissed, so it's hard not to wonder whether that's really true, or if one event might have been a catalyst for the other.)
Roseman has "been outstanding at trying to provide us with a lot of resources. He's done an unbelievable job again with the cap in how we manage things and how do we things. I'm excited about working with him," Kelly said.
Kelly said the only difference in the draft process this year would be that "I would have final say" on draft day, which he said was not the case his first two drafts. Asked directly about the drafting of Smith, a raw pass rusher from Louisville who played sparingly as a rookie, Kelly said, "Howie had final say on that decision."
Asked yesterday whether he intends to try to trade up to draft Mariota, his quarterback when he coached at Oregon, Kelly said: "Let's dispel that right now. I think that stuff is crazy. You guys have been going with that stuff all along. I think Marcus is the best quarterback in the draft. We will never mortgage our future to go all the way up to get somebody like that, because we have too many other holes that we are going to take care of."
That certainly will make Mariota's appearance tomorrow at the Maxwell Club awards in Atlantic City less crazed.
Of course, Kelly didn't say he wouldn't draft or trade to draft Mariota if the 2014 Heisman winner slid substantially, but that seems unlikely.
Kelly strongly endorsed the 2008 Heisman winner, Sam Bradford, as the Eagles' QB going forward. He said he'd been offered a first-round pick for Bradford yesterday morning, the day after the Eagles got him from St. Louis in a deal that included QB Nick Foles, but Kelly added that he didn't acquire Bradford as an asset to leverage.
"I didn't bring Sam here to be a chip. I'm the only Chip," Kelly said.
Kelly said the team did its "due diligence" with Dr. James Andrews, regarding Bradford's back-to-back ACL tears.
"I think he's got an outstanding skill set. He's a big, strong, physical quarterback," Kelly said. "He's over 6-4, he's 240 pounds, he's smart, he's intelligent, he's one of the most accurate throwers when you see him throw the football. I think he's smart. I think he's wired right."
Kelly said that, with Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur having been Bradford's offensive coordinator with the Rams, Shurmur "knows what he's like in the meeting room, and he knows what he is like on a daily basis and he knows the consistency that comes with him and he understands his work ethic. He's an unbelievable competitor."
Kelly said he regretted not having been able to contact Eagles all-time leading rusher LeSean McCoy last week to tell him a trade was pending with Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso. He said the Bills "jumped the gun and called someone else" before the Eagles were even sure the trade would go through. Kelly said that when he realized word was out, he called McCoy, but got his voicemail. McCoy said he found out he was being traded when he woke up from a nap and saw a lot of texts from friends.
"I've got all the respect in the world. The kid is the all-time leading running back here. He's a special football player," Kelly said. "We told Buffalo we were not happy with that, but there's nothing you can do about getting it back."
Kelly said he viewed the trade as getting Alonso and free-agent cornerback Byron Maxwell for McCoy, since the cap room opened by trading McCoy helped bring in Maxwell at $63 million over 6 years.
Kelly said that the Eagles had planned to bring back wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, and that he talked to Maclin several times over the weekend, but the Birds "couldn't go as high as Kansas City went." Maclin signed yesterday with Andy Reid's team for a reported $55 million over 5 years. The Eagles are said to have been offering just under $10 million a year.
Kelly said that inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans, recovering from Achilles' surgery, will return, that even though he has three inside starters for two positions, Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Alonso are all coming off injuries, so someone could get hurt again, and "I like having really good football players."
Finally, why talk yesterday, after letting key issues such as the power shift and the QB situation boil away on the talk-show front burner for months?
"Because we made maneuvers and we had news."