Eagles introduce Chip Kelly as head coach

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Eagles introduce Chip Kelly as head coach

Chip Kelly's first press conference as the Eagles' head coach is over. Below are some of the highlights.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie:

"We had an amazing experience interviewing some incredible football minds. ... The whole key was to find the right leader, not to make the fastest decision. As it stands in the NFL anyway, you take two weeks, and some people think that's a long time. That's a very, very short time when you're trying to decide who the leader of your football organization is going to be.

"We really were able to circle back with coach Chip Kelly. We had an outstanding interview with him on Jan. 5 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Scottsdale Arizona. It was just incredibly impressive. ... Everything we had ever heard was just so true. ... It was an outstanding nine hours.

"We were told at the end of the same day. He was either going to come to the Philadelphia Eagles or go back to Oregon. ... We kept in touch, and I've got to give Howie a lot of credit because Howie and Chip have mutual friends, and they kind of alerted us to the fact that this was a great match and Chip was really torn. Things reached a crescendo about 48 hours ago, and we were really committed to seeing whether we could welcome Chip as our new head coach."

Chip Kelly:

On the Eagles and his decision to leave Oregon:

"It's a special situation. In meeting with these three guys (Lurie, Roseman and president Don Smolenski), it was very evident to me, it's an iconic franchise with a passionate, passionate owner and great people in this company, and that's the thing that struck me.

"I probably took a long time with this decision, and probably a lot longer than some other people probably wanted me to take, but I think for me, I've always coached and been involved in this game because of the people.

"I knew what this place was all about, and it's where I wanted to be, but I love my players. We had a great culture at Oregon. Have an unbelievable coaching staff. It was really known versus unknowns. It was just very, very difficult to say good-bye to men that I truly love and respect. The way our players handled it when I talked to them the other day was nothing short of amazing to me. I probably cried more than they did.

"I knew this was the place for me. It was just trying to figure out a way to do it the right way. I wanted to be the first to tell my players. ... I want to tell you how impressed I was with both Howie and Jeffrey that allowed me to do this in a manner where my players were going to find this out from me first-hand, and it wasn't going to be something they saw on a Twitter account or a local TV station. That part is extremely important to me.

"The game of football to me is always about relationships. And the game of football is about people, and you win because you have great people."

On Andy Reid

"One person that I really want to thank in terms of advice in this whole thing is Andy Reid. "The fact that Andy Reid reached out to me and told me about his experience here just told me what this organization is all about. There's not a classier guy.

"When Andy texted me yesterday when I accepted the job, I told him I had really, really, really big shoes to fill, and in typically Andy fashion he said, 'Just be yourself, and you'll be fine.' I just want to publicly thank Andy, because that really right there spoke to me about what this organization is all about.

"I'm excited to be an Eagle and excited to get started, and we're ready to go."

And the decision is final:

"I burned the boat. I'm not going back. I made the jump. I want to be an NFL coach."

On Philadelphia:

"I know about the fan base in Philadelphia, and that excites me."

As a recruiter at the University of New Hampshire, Kelly spent every December, January and May in this area.

"I know that the second most important bowl besides the Super Bowl, which is my goal, is the Wing Bowl."

On adjusting from college to the NFL:

"Football is football, and this is football at its highest level. But it's still a game that's played 11 on 11. It's about putting together a great coaching staff, having a great organization behind you, and having great players."

On the Eagles' QB situation:

"There's perception and there's reality. The perception is we run our quarterback all the time. The reality is that's not the case. One of the best quality in a quarterback is durability, and a lot of that has to do with play-calling.

"Part of what we do offensively has always been understanding what our personnel is, and then how do we maximize that, and what are their best traits? If you're going to ask someone do something that they're not capable of doing, then obviously that's a recipe for disaster.

"Our scheme -- offensive, defensively, special teams-wise -- is always going to be personnel driven. A lot of coaches have great ideas, but we're not playing the game. The players are playing the game, and it's about putting them in situations where they can be successful. Our offense is always going to be tailored to who's playing.

"In terms of Nick, I know him because we played against him. I'm a huge fan of his. He's tough. ... We hit him as many times as we could hit someone and he kept getting up and making plays. He completed a 13-yard pass left-handed against us once and I remember standing on the sideline shaking my head going, 'I don't know what we have to do to stop him.' But he's a competitor, he's accurate, so I'm excited about that. I'm excited for everybody in this program."

On Michael Vick's future with the Eagles:

"I'm going to look at everybody. If you can throw the ball and run, I'll take you out there. We're going to look at everything we can do to put the best product on the field... There's nothing that's on the board right now. There's nothing that's off the board right now."

On control of the organization:

"My role is clearly defining what we want. What is a cornerback? What are we looking for? What's the height, what's the weight, what's the speed, what's the makeup of each individual here? And then in collaboration with everybody. Not one person can do it all.

"I've heard questions about that I want control over this, control over that. That's never been an issue, never is an issue for me. I'm a football coach. I'm not a general manager. I'm not a salary cap guy. I coach football. I need people that can go out there and say, 'Hey, this is what you want.' It's going to be a collaboration. I have no delusions of saying I want all these different titles. I just want to coach football."

On the offense:

"I'm not married to 'we have to do this' on offense ... I'm an equal-opportunity scorer ... I'm not going to take a running quarterback and make him throw and I'm not going to take a passing quarterback and make him run. ... It's not about style, it's about substance.

"It's about putting guys into positions where they can be successful ... We're going to put our guys in the best position to score points.

"People want to paint a brush and label an offense with one word. For us, it's about what tools do we have in our toolbox."

On the defense:

"We're going to be an attacking style defense. It's going to be a group of people that dictates the tempo of the game. What that spacing is, in terms of is it a 4-3 spacing, 3-4 spacing -- it's again looking at our roster and understanding who we'll have the opportunity to bring in here."

On the NCAA's investigation into Oregon's recruiting practices:

"We've fully cooperated with the NCAA and will continue to cooperate with the NCAA. That did not play in any role in my decision."

Despite blowout loss, Sixers see potential in Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor playing together

Despite blowout loss, Sixers see potential in Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor playing together

BOX SCORE

Brett Brown was ready to do it Wednesday night. The matchup against the Kings presented an opportunity to experiment with playing Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together. That pairing had to wait two days, though, after the Kings game was postponed

On Friday, Embiid and Okafor shared the court for just under 13 minutes in the Sixers' 105-88 loss to the Magic (see Instant Replay), who also rolled out a duo of bigs in Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic. 

“I thought we had our moments,” Embiid said. “We shared the ball, we made shots. Obviously we need to play more together and learn how to play with each other.”

Embiid and Okafor first played together for 5:29 in the second quarter. They scored all of the Sixers' 12 points during that time, including a pair of threes by Embiid. They also combined for five boards. The Sixers outscored the Magic, 12-9, with the bigs in together.

The benefits of the floor spacing was apparent. Oftentimes in the game, Okafor could be seen open at the basket with a hand up for the ball while Embiid was also getting looks from long range. 

“I liked our spacing, I liked the high-low stuff we were doing,” Brown said. “I think when you post Joel, that Jahlil is going to play sort of hide-and-seek on the other side of the floor, and work that low zone, and become — I hope — a potent offensive rebounder. When you post Jahlil, Joel has the ability to space to three.”

Brown turned to Embiid and Okafor again in the fourth. At that point, the Magic had a 23-point lead. Their next 7:25 together was a chance to give them a long run in live game action. They combined for another 12 points and four rebounds. All of their buckets were layups, dunks or free throws. Both teams scored 19 points with Embiid and Okafor in that segment.

Both Embiid and Okafor finished the game with double-doubles: 25 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for Embiid; 16 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks for Okafor. 

“I thought they played well together,” Vucevic said. “I thought it was tough to guard them because they’re both really good offensively.”

Okafor credited his friendship with Embiid, which dates back to high school, as a key to coexisting well on the court. Both emphasized their off-the-court relationship would help them in a game situation. 

“I think the communication piece went really well,” Okafor said. “He was talking to me, I was talking to him.”

Scoring and communication always seemed to be the easier parts of the pairing to tackle. Defense, though, was the challenge given that one of the centers would have to guard the four spot. Okafor noted their transition D as an area that needs improvement.

“We’re both used to going right to the rim,” Okafor said. “I think I had a couple easy buckets. That’s something we’ll be able to fix.” 

Brown had based his decision of when to play Embiid and Okafor together on the matchups. While the two could boast their own edge on the offensive end, Brown didn’t want to play them in a scenario in which they’d be at a huge defensive disadvantage. 

“It’s not offense to me, it’s defense. That’s the thing that is most challenging,” Brown said. “We want to play fast. We want to put points on the board. You don’t want to play in the 80s. You don’t want to do that, that’s not our sport anymore. So you want to make sure that you're capable of guarding the opposition.”

Vucevic noticed the challenge from an opposing perspective. He understands the necessary changes since playing alongside Biyombo.  

“It takes time for them to get adjusted, especially for the guy that will be playing the four defensively,” Vucevic said. “They’re not used to that because they always back down to the paint guarding the fives. It’s a different look. They have to work on it, communicate, and I think they’ll be fine.” 

On a night with few highlights in a 17-point blowout loss, Brown was able to take away a positive from this anticipated duo.

"I thought Jahlil and Joel did a really good job," he said. 

Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid unhappy with effort; Robert Covington hurt

Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid unhappy with effort; Robert Covington hurt

Joel Embiid didn’t see four quarters of basketball from the Sixers in their 105-88 loss to the Magic Friday night (see Instant Replay). Their efforts were inconsistent as they fell flat in long stretches and allowed the Magic to build up double-digit leads as high as 29 points.

The Sixers gave up a 16-0 run in the first and shot just 6 for 26 (23.1 percent) in the quarter. The Magic, who had lost a one-point game to the Grizzlies in Memphis the night before, rallied together to seize this opportunity.

“They just made a lot of shots that we didn’t,” Embiid said. “That’s the game, but we didn’t play hard all 48 minutes and we need to do a better job next time.”

The Sixers didn’t break 30 points until 4:33 to go in the second and attempted just two free throws in the first half. By the end of the third, the Magic had a 21-point lead which they held on to with in ease in the fourth. 

The Magic outshot the Sixers on all areas of the floor: 47.4 percent to 37.9 from the field and 50.0 to 28.1 from three. While the teams had nearly equal percentages from the line, the Magic shot 18 for 26 compared to only 7 for 10 from the Sixers. 

“They missed a lot of shots,” Magic forward Jeff Green said. “We got stops, were aggressive, guys just played hard and created for one another and played as a team.”

Covington injured
The Sixers are waiting to learn more news on the extent of Robert Covington’s injury. In the fourth quarter, Covington exited and did not return after suffering a left knee sprain when he collided with T.J. McConnell chasing a loose ball in front of the Sixers’ bench. If the starting small forward has to miss time, Sixers head coach Brett Brown is thinking ahead to possible lineup changes. 

“We'll try to figure out what his next week represents,” Brown said. “If we aren't with him, maybe there's a chance we can look at Dario [Saric] a little bit at the three.”

Covington is averaging 8.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 27.5 minutes per game. Saric has been coming off the bench at power forward behind Ersan Ilyasova. He started 10 games earlier this season at the four spot. 

Embiid honored
The Sixers honored Embiid during a timeout for being named NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month (October and November). Embiid was appreciative of the award and has his sights set on the bigger picture this season.

“All the hard work I’ve put in, it feels great,” Embiid said earlier in the day at shootaround. “Obviously, maybe the bigger picture is Rookie of the Year, that’s what matters. … I don’t have my mind set on that. But if I can get it, that would be nice.”

Brown sees this recent showing as just a glimpse into what Embiid will be able to do over his career. Embiid leads the Sixers with 18.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. 

“This in infant stages, early days for him,” Brown said. “His body of work, given his lack of playing basketball, really is jaw-dropping for what I think he can be. To jump in and get rookie of the month I think is a real, sort of, quick snapshot view of him now. I think what he’s going to be is going to be extremely special.”

Embiid also is shooting 51.4 percent from three, including 3 for 5 against the Magic. When asked if he would like to participate in the three-point contest All-Star weekend, he said "it would be nice" and noted he would have to work on the speed of his release.