PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Chip Kelly went three-and-out — much like his inconsistent offense.
Kelly was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday night with one game left in his third season, completing a dramatic drop for a coach who was heavily recruited and lauded as an offensive genius only a couple years ago.
Kelly was dumped after missing the playoffs for the second straight season and failing miserably in his first year in charge of personnel.
The Eagles entered the season with Super Bowl expectations, but are 6-9. They’ve lost several games by a lopsided margin and players had lost confidence in Kelly.
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Two current Eagles players, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team was not publicly discussing the firing, told The Associated Press late Tuesday night that several players had met in groups in recent weeks to discuss their frustration with Kelly. They said they expressed relief in text exchanges with teammates after the team announced it had fired Kelly, after most players had left the team’s practice facility for the day.
Eagles CEO Jeffrey Lurie issued a one-sentence statement to reporters saying he appreciates Kelly’s contributions and wishes him success going forward.
Lurie told fans in an email that he decided to make a change after “evaluating the many factors involved in our performance as a team.”
The Eagles also fired Ed Marynowitz, who was vice president of player personnel. Longtime NFL executive Tom Donahoe will assume the role of senior director of player personnel.
Kelly gained full control of personnel decisions last offseason, winning a power struggle with then-general manager Howie Roseman. But Kelly tore apart a winning team and several of his bold moves backfired.
Since March 2014, Kelly released three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson, traded two-time All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy, didn’t re-sign 2014 Pro Bowl wideout Jeremy Maclin, cut two-time Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis and traded quarterback Nick Foles and a 2016 second-round draft pick for Sam Bradford.
He also gave big money in free agency to running back DeMarco Murray and cornerback Byron Maxwell. Murray has been a bust and Maxwell has underperformed. Kelly even signed Tim Tebow, but released him after he won the competition for the No. 3 quarterback job.
A person familiar with the decision to fire Kelly told the AP on Tuesday night that the team didn’t consider only stripping him of personnel control, opting to part with him entirely. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Lurie will address Kelly’s dismissal on Wednesday.
Kelly didn’t want players perceived as “me-first” guys. He alienated some of his players, though the only ones who spoke out against him did it after they were gone.
McCoy, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and a fan favorite, made headlines when he said there’s a reason Kelly got rid of “all the good black players.” Cornerback Brandon Boykin, who was traded to Pittsburgh, said Kelly was “uncomfortable” around black players.
Other players supported Kelly and moves such as signing Murray and Maxwell contradicted McCoy’s claim. But Kelly’s reputation took a hit anyway.
Shortly after Kelly was fired, former Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho tweeted: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Suspended Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon tweeted: “Shady, Maclin, Foles, Djax.. Smh.”
Kelly replaced Andy Reid and led the Eagles to an NFC East title in 2013 after they were 4-12 a year earlier. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs and missed the postseason in 2014 following a 9-3 start.
They were 7-12 in Kelly’s last 19 games.
Kelly was considered one of the most innovative coaches in college when the Eagles lured him away from Oregon in 2013. He brought his up-tempo offense and a unique approach that included monitoring players’ sleep habits, changing the menu in the cafeteria and playing loud music during practices. Players had protein shakes waiting for them after practice and the team took the field on Tuesdays, which is a day off for the rest of the NFL.
Kelly’s offense was dynamic his first season and set several franchise records. It steadily declined the next two years. The defense has been the worst in the NFL for three seasons.
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will coach the team in the season finale at the New York Giants on Sunday.
Lurie told fans President Don Smolenski and Roseman, the executive vice president of football operations, will assist him in the search for a new coach.
Roseman helped convince Kelly to take the job after he initially decided to stay at Oregon. Kelly ended up taking Roseman’s job without the title — the Eagles technically didn’t have a GM this season. But Roseman is the last one standing in Philadelphia.
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