With one game left in the season, the Philadelphia Eagles began the annual tradition of coaching shuffle by firing Chip Kelly late Tuesday night.
“We appreciate all the contributions that Chip Kelly made and wish him every success going forward,” owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a brief statement released by the Eagles.
Kelly had led Philadelphia to a 6-9 record this season with no chance to go to the playoffs. It was a sharp decline from the pair of 10-6 seasons in the previous two seasons, which included a division title in 2013. Kelly’s Eagles missed the playoffs last year after starting 7-2. His record after that start was just 9-13.
Pat Shurmer, who had previously coached the Cleveland Browns, will coach the last game of the season for Philadelphia.
During an interview with Fox Sports, Kelly said that he did not fight Lurie’s decision and would rather stay in the NFL instead of returning to college football. He previously coached the University of Oregon where he took the Ducks to four BCS games in four seasons, including the national title game in 2010, a 22-19 loss to the Auburn Tigers. And while he compiled a 46-7 record with Oregon, Kelly could only manage a 26-21 record for Philadelphia.
Kelly’s tenure with the Eagles was made worse after last season when he took over GM duties, releasing key personnel that contributed to his early success as coach. Gone were Nick Foles, LeSeasn McCoy and Jeremy Maclin. In were Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell. Bradford, who has struggled in the NFL since reinjuring his shoulder while with the St. Louis Rams, and Murray, who dominated the field while playing for Dallas, were shadows of their former selves.
The season has been pegged as unbalanced, with upset wins against New England and Buffalo (both on the road), they also had head-scratching losses, such as a home loss to Washington and thumpings by Tampa Bay and Detroit.
His departure brought welcoming news among fans and players, with one fan described by Yahoo News as walking down the street in Philadelphia screaming in joy that “They fired Kelly!” Two players, meanwhile, told the Associated Press that players have met in recent weeks to discuss their issues with Kelly. Text messages of relief were exchanged immediately after Kelly’s firing broke.
While Tennessee and Miami have already fired their coaches, Kelly’s is the first towards the end of the season. And, with his desire for staying in the NFL, one of the two vacancies could quickly fill as Tennessee having his former college quarterback in Marcus Mariota.