After six seasons at Oregon, the last four as head coach, Chip Kelly has accepted a job with the Cleveland Browns. Kelly’s desire to take an NFL job has been widely known, after briefly accepting the head job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job before returning to Eugene last January, Kelly’s presence at Thursday’s Fiesta Bowl was treated as a farewell party.
Widely respected for his efficiency and logistics, Kelly’s offense was unsolved by all he faced in college football and seemed to improve in each of his six seasons guiding the Ducks’ attack. In fact, Oregon’s rushing averages went as follows: 251.7 (2007), 280.1 (2008), 231.7 (2009), 286.3 (2010), 299.2 (2011), 323.5 (2012).
Kelly succeeded with running backs of all shapes and skill sets, from Jonathan Stewart to LeGarrette Blount to LaMichael James to Kenjon Barner to De’Anthony Thomas.
In all, Kelly went an astounding 46-7 in his four years as Oregon’s head coach, winning three conference titles and becoming the first coach in college football history to lead his team to a BCS game in each of his first four seasons on the job. The Ducks won 12 games in each of his final three seasons and appeared in the BCS National Championship at the conclusion of the 2010 season.
He moves to a Browns team led by running back Trent Richardson (950 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie season) and an offensive line that many consider the team’s greatest strength. The Browns went 5-11 this fall, so this is a team with its share of weaknesses as well.
This hire continues the beginning of a new era in Cleveland, though. The team was purchased by Jimmy Haslam in October, and CEO Joe Banner was brought on soon thereafter.