Chip Kelly's impromptu news conference was either designed to calm fears that Jeffrey Lurie handed his franchise over to a madman or was a smokescreen to further aid his efforts to land Marcus Mariota.

Whichever it was - and there was probably more to the press-shy Eagles coach's decision to meet with reporters for 24 minutes Wednesday - Kelly helped himself.

Kelly logically explained each of his roster decisions over the last few weeks, and whether you agreed with his rationale or not, he always had an answer to the "Why?" He even had a fair response for why the Eagles gave up a 2016 second-draft pick, along with Nick Foles, in the controversial trade for Sam Bradford.

"Everything goes back and forth," Kelly said. "There were times we didn't think there was ever going to be anything done at all. I mean, I was offered a first-round pick for him this morning from another team."

If that's true, then maybe Bradford had more worth than many around the NFL believed the injury-prone quarterback had. The Browns were one of the teams vying for him. But if they or any of the other interested teams was willing to give up so much, why didn't the Rams deal with them directly?

The only plausible explanation would be that St. Louis wanted only Foles in return. And as Kelly explained it, the Eagles so desperately wanted Bradford, who is coming off the second anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee in as many years, that they were willing to give to get.

"It's very rare that you have a quarterback in this league that hasn't been hit and hasn't been knocked down," Kelly said. "But the one thing about Sam . . . if he didn't tear his ACL, we would not be talking about trading for him."

So when did Bradford become Tom Brady? He's a good quarterback when healthy and has untapped potential. But when he did play he completed only 58.6 percent of his passes and had a 79.3 passer rating.

Aside from trying to explain Bradford's worth or teasing fans who are unhappy with the acquisition, Kelly's mention of the first-round offer could have also been a plant - a convenient way for him to broadcast the current asking price to teams interested in the 27-year-old.

And then he would have enough ammo to swap with teams with high draft picks such as the Titans (No. 2) or the New York Jets (No. 6) that are uninterested in the spread-offense-specific Mariota. Coaches don't normally give away that much information.

Kelly, of course, isn't like most coaches.

"We did not bring Sam in here to be a chip," Kelly said. "I'm the only Chip here."

Asked about Mariota seven questions in, Kelly said that his packaging multiple picks or players to move up for his former Oregon quarterback was mere speculation.

"Let's dispel that right now. I think that stuff is crazy," Kelly said. "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."

Many executives around the league have the same opinion about such a risky move. Howie Roseman recently said that the history of teams' jumping that far up the draft for one player shows that it hasn't been beneficial to the long-term prospects of a franchise.

But, again, this is the iconoclastic Kelly, who has already jettisoned his starting quarterback, running back, and No. 1 wide receiver this offseason. Nothing can be ruled out. And if he pulls it off and gets Mariota, many won't initially care how he did it or that he completely lied.

Even if you take most of what Kelly said at face value, it was difficult to believe him when he said the Eagles never looked into the possibility of trading up for Mariota, a quarterback he compared to Peyton Manning in January, a person he nearly equated to Gandhi and a prospect he knows better than any other NFL coach.

"We have not looked into anything," Kelly said. "We have not had any discussions with anybody about any draft things."

When Kelly strolled into the NovaCare Complex auditorium unannounced, he acted as if the news conference was planned for days. Reporters have been asking all offseason for Kelly to be available. This one asked again Wednesday morning and the response from the team for the next several hours was, "We're trying," right up until Kelly's surprise appearance.

Kelly said, "When we have news, I'll talk," while completely ignoring the front office shake-up that left him in charge of football operations, his promoting of Ed Marynowitz to chief scout, and the releases of longtime Eagles Todd Herremans and Trent Cole that occurred this offseason and predated free agency.

Whatever his reasons - and it may have been to avoid a circus environment in two weeks when he is required to speak at the NFL owners meetings - Kelly accomplished at least one goal. His calm demeanor quelled some fears.

If the other objective was just the latest step in a series to get Mariota, that would do more than almost anything to keep many fans from jumping off the Kelly bandwagon in their offseason of great despair.

@Jeff_McLane