Brandon Grahams reaction to his next head coach?
Im hyped, Graham, the Eagles defensive end, screamed into the phone Wednesday, moments after the Eagles stunned the NFL world by announcing the hiring of former Oregon coach Chip Kelly as the replacement for Andy Reid.
Similar reactions from other Eagles trickled in while the news sunk in that Kelly, the offensive mastermind who built Oregon into a national powerhouse, would be the franchises 21st head coach.
Im excited No. 1, tight end Brent Celek told CSNs Derrick Gunn. I guess Im a little shocked, just because it was first reported that he was staying at Oregon, but hes our coach now and I cant wait to see how we do, how this offense runs. Im excited to get going.
And from the defense?
Hes a successful person, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins told the NFL Network. Hes had a lot of success and anytime you have somebody like that and his desire, hes going to do whatever it takes for us to be as successful here as well.
I dont know too much about him, but from what Ive seen and just highlights, Ive heard hes someone with a lot of emotion and someone who doesnt accept not being successful.
The Eagles just finished 4-12, their worst record ever under Reid, who was fired Dec. 31 after his 14th year and hired just four days later by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kelly, whose record-setting spread offense helped the Ducks reach BCS Bowls in each of his four seasons as head coach, is considered one of the brightest, most innovative offensive minds in the game.
But there are questions about whether his up-tempo offense can succeed in the NFL, along with his expertise in fielding a championship-caliber defense and assembling an experienced staff.
For a franchise that hasnt won a Super Bowl after 51 years of existence, the hiring of Kelly -- who has never coached or played in the NFL -- is rightfully considered risky and bold.
I have no reason but to be optimistic, right tackle Todd Herremans said via text message. Thats who they initially wanted.
Kelly had met with Lurie, president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman for nine hours on Jan. 5 at a Four Seasons in Scottsdale, Ariz., one day after the Ducks bounced Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-17.
Kelly had also interviewed with the Browns but announced on Jan. 6 his decision to return to Oregon for a fifth season. But his change of heart led to talks reopening with the Eagles, who quickly reached a deal with their top choice.
Yeah, I was definitely surprised, especially with all of the rumors that we had heard a week or so ago about Chip deciding to stay at Oregon and not come into the NFL, Jenkins said to the NFL Network. So it was a little bit of a shock today when I heard that.
One of Kellys first big decisions will be deciding on his next quarterback.
Its assumed that the mobile Michael Vick is better suited for the high-octane offense that Kelly ran at Oregon, but Vick will be 33 and is slated to make more than 15 million as he comes off his one of his worst seasons. He also hasnt played 16 games in a season since 2006 and sat for six weeks in 2012 after sustaining a concussion.
Nick Foles, the promising rookie who replaced Vick, lacks the speed and athleticism seen from quarterbacks who played under Kelly at Oregon but caught Kellys attention when his Arizona team battled Kellys Ducks in Pac-12 Conference games (see story).
Ill tell you what -- Im glad Nick Foles is graduating, Kelly told reporters after a 2011 game between Arizona and Oregon. I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes. ... Nick is a hell of a football player. That kids a warrior. Hes as good as anyone in the country.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick invited Kelly to his practices and then implemented some of Kellys offensive concepts into New Englands hurry-up offense, which led the NFL this past season with 1,191 plays from scrimmage, 31 more than second-ranked Detroit.
Celek is convinced Kellys offense will remake the Eagles into a fearsome offensive team and maximize the talent of Pro Bowl wideout DeSean Jackson and Pro Bowl halfback LeSean McCoy.
I think it will, just from the talent that weve got, Celek said. From what Ive seen just on TV ... its exciting to watch for sure. Theyre fast paced. Theyre up-tempo. And they score a lot of points, which is what we want to do.
Jenkins seemed slightly more apprehensive, although optimistic.
Everybody of course is going to have concerns about the coach and if hes going to be able to adjust to the next level -- the difference in speed, tempo and all of the things like that, he said. What type of schemes is he going to bring in and will they adjust? All of those are going to be concerns with people but his resume, regardless of what those questions are, is pretty impressive.
Its a fine line between winning and losing in the NFL, and sometimes if you can just win over your players, have confidence in them and get them to fight for you, a lot of times that makes all of the difference in the world.
E-mail Geoff Mosher at firstname.lastname@example.org