It wasn’t the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles parted ways with Chip Kelly that was stunning, but the timing of it. Normally coaches get fired (or, as the team put it, “released“) a few days after the season finale, not before.
Before Mariota was drafted No. 2 overall by the Titans last spring he, of course, was a star at Oregon. And before the quarterback won the Heisman Trophy last year, he played his first full season in 2012 for Kelly, who recruited Mariota to Eugene but left for the Eagles after that season.
Prior to the draft, there had been speculation that Kelly might trade up to get Mariota, but the coach made a point of declaring in March that his Eagles “would never mortgage our future” to acquire that high of a pick. Now, if the Titans want to acquire Kelly’s services, they won’t have to give Philadelphia a thing in exchange.
In the wake of the news Tuesday night that Kelly was no longer a member of the Eagles’ organization, social media was abuzz with talk that it was pretty much a fait accompli he’d end up in Tennessee.
The Titans will get Chip Kelly. Great for both and probably Mariota assuming CK doesn't demand GM power.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) December 30, 2015
Chip Kelly - Titans HC next season seems to obvious....— Thom Marriott (@atpthom) December 30, 2015
Of course, even if the Titans are interested in bringing Kelly aboard, they’ll likely have competition, not only from some other NFL teams in search of a head coach (the 49ers come to mind), but plenty of college teams. Kelly had some success in Philadelphia, especially in his first two years, but it is at the college level that he really made his reputation as an offensive innovator.
Nevertheless, Tennessee may be holding a trump card. After trying to get the most out of the likes of Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford with the Eagles, could Kelly resist having Mariota run his offense again — and could the Titans, headed for the top of the draft again under interim coach Mike Mularkey, resist trying to reunite the two?