THE FAMILIAR figure, phone pressed to his ear, briefly appeared a room away, through the double-glazed glass of the front door. He quickly ducked out of sight when the reporter obeyed the neatly lettered note covering the nonworking doorbell on the spacious front porch of Chip Kelly's Haddonfield home, and knocked.
A yellow labish-looking dog trotted through the tiled hallway up to the door and barked. A second knock brought Jill Cohen, Kelly's companion since their days working at the University of Oregon. She was smiling and gracious as she opened the door and said the coach whose firing the Eagles had announced by email about 45 minutes earlier didn't want to say anything Tuesday night.
A few moments of small talk ensued - the dog's name turned out to be Henry - but Kelly didn't reconsider, and the reporter thanked Cohen and walked back to his car.
Maybe somebody, someday will get Kelly's full version of what happened Tuesday that took him from total personnel control over the Eagles to unemployed, or "released," as the Eagles put it in their 7:12 p.m. announcement, as if he were a creature being returned to his native habitat.
Fox analyst Jay Glazer said Kelly wants to remain in the NFL and doesn't need personnel control in his next job - which is probably good, because after having gone 7-12 in his final 19 NFL games while bleeding the Eagles' roster of playmaking talent, he'd probably find total control hard to obtain elsewhere.
We will hear team chairman Jeffrey Lurie's version Wednesday at noon, or at least, we will hear the version Lurie wants to sell to us. It seems very likely that the total control Kelly asked for and received a year ago next week was at the heart of this rift, and that former general manager Howie Roseman will move back closer to the seat of personnel power.
A source close to the situation said Lurie told confidantes, even before the Eagles were eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, that he wanted to "take back the team." That would indicate pretty severe disillusionment on the part of Lurie, who hasn't talked to reporters since Sept. 11, when he said of Kelly: "He's an excellent coach in this league. There's no question about it. He doesn't need to prove anything. He's a builder of a roster, culture builder, he's everything that I think we all thought when we interviewed him, and more."
Of course, Lurie also elaborately praised Roseman as one of the brightest young minds in football on several occasions, and then laughed off the idea of replacing him, five days before Kelly convinced Lurie of an "all-encompassing vision" that Lurie declared would "maximize Chip" while minimizing Howie.
Though losing four of your last six games by an average margin of 24 points and missing the playoffs for the second year in a row - after being widely touted as a Super Bowl contender - is the kind of thing that will get a coach fired, the timing seemed very odd. Why not next week? What was so urgent that you had to prevail upon poor offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur - who presumably also is headed out the door - to take on the role of interim coach in a meaningless game at the Giants on Sunday?
People close to the situation said this was not something Kelly sought, that he was sincere about wanting to see through what he had started here. ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reported that Lurie wanted to take back some of the personnel responsibilities he had ceded to Kelly, and that Kelly balked.
The Eagles said former Bills GM Tom Donahoe, a senior adviser for the Eagles since 2012, will "assume the role of Senior Director of Player Personnel," with Kelly's personnel director, Ed Marynowitz, dismissed.
James Harris, the chief of staff Kelly brought with him from Oregon, also was fired Tuesday, a source close to the situation said.
Presumably Donahoe will just coordinate scouting and such until a new coach/GM or coach and GM are hired.
In a letter to fans posted on the Eagles' website, Lurie said: "I spent the last three seasons evaluating the many factors involved in our performance as a team. As I watched this season unfold, I determined that it was time to make a change.
"As we move forward, the search for a new head coach will begin and will be led by myself, (team president) Don Smolenski and Howie Roseman."
One theory offered by insiders was that the Eagles wanted to get a jump on the coaching search, but if they're leery of college coaches this time - and the fan base certainly seems to be - they aren't going to be able to talk to anybody employed by an NFL team until the regular season ends, anyway.
As joyous as some fans are right now, it's hard to see how getting rid of Kelly, presumably with no successor on tap, necessarily makes anything better. The roster is filled with players Kelly brought in to fit his system; that was one of the main rationales for the personnel power grab a year ago. Is quarterback Sam Bradford still going to be in a new coach's plans? Are the Eagles still going to be in Bradford's plans? That second-round draft pick is still headed to St. Louis, regardless.
A lot has been said lately about how the longer you function in a system, the better you are, particularly when it comes to quarterbacks. Now there will be another new system for Bradford, if he stays, and guys who don't fit what the new coach wants to do, and a learning curve, and so on.
When Lurie, Smolenski and Roseman - the same hunting party assembled this time - bagged Kelly a little less than three years ago, they got the top coaching prize available that winter. (Even if Bruce Arians has outshone Kelly, he wasn't nearly as sought-after then.) And they were thrilled, absolutely convinced they'd ensured ongoing success by hiring a cutting-edge offensive talent, which was what Lurie had explicitly sought.
Now they're going to go hunting again. In a few weeks, we'll assemble in the NovaCare auditorium to hear again how excited they are about their new franchise savior.
Maybe we should keep in mind that Lurie tends to get excited a lot. It's certain the coaching candidates will know that about him this time around, and that they will have some questions, such as, who is the general manager?
Turns out Kelly was right, in his final Eagles news conference Monday, when he told us it wasn't him.
On Twitter: @LesBowen