Chicago Bears

The Eagles have found Reid's replacement

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The Eagles have found Reid's replacement

From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Moments after Chip Kelly's plane landed, he was handed a new Eagles visor and received a warm greeting from fans gathered at the airport.Welcome to Philadelphia, Coach.The Eagles hired Kelly on Wednesday, just 10 days after he decided to stay at Oregon. The 49-year-old Kelly, known as an offensive innovator, becomes the 21st coach in team history and replaces Andy Reid, who was fired on Dec. 31 after a 4-12 season.He'll be introduced at a news conference Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Eagles' practice facility."The challenge is what I was excited about and that's why I came," Kelly told a group of reporters upon landing in Philly. "I was sold on the Eagles the first time I met them, it was my ties to Oregon that made it hard. But the Eagles are the Eagles. This is the NFL."My dream is to just win, and with the Eagles, this was the best opportunity for me to win. I never thought a long time ago that I was going to be able to coach in the NFL but I'm excited about the opportunity."General manager Howie Roseman gave Kelly the white Eagles visor, the trademark hat he wore at Oregon. Kelly then got a glimpse of what this team means to this city.Not only were Roseman and president Don Smolenski waiting for him on the runway -- they arrived with a police escort -- there were fans, decked out in green, waiting outside on a cold, dreary night."I know it's a rabid fan base," Kelly said. "I hope they don't boo me. It's an exciting time and I'm ready to get to work."Kelly, who was 46-7 in four years at Oregon, interviewed with the Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills in a two-day span after leading the fast-flying Ducks to a victory over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 3.The Eagles are known to have interviewed 11 candidates, including two meetings with Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. All along, Kelly was thought to be Philadelphia's first choice in a long, exhaustive process that took many twists."Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles," owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. "He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh energetic approach to our team."On the day he fired Reid, Lurie appeared to be describing Kelly when he said he wanted to find a "real smart, forward-thinking coach" who is "strategic, a strong leader, very comfortable in his own skin."The enigmatic Kelly reportedly was close to signing with the Browns after a long interview Jan. 4. He met with the Eagles for nine hours the next day, setting up a soap-opera scenario in which the Eagles were competing with Browns CEO Joe Banner, their former president and longtime friend of Lurie who left the organization after a falling out. But that roller coaster ended when Kelly opted to remain -- temporarily -- in Eugene, Ore.The Eagles interviewed two other high-profile college coaches -- Penn State's Bill O'Brien and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly. Both elected to stay with their schools.Bradley was considered by many to be the leading contender, though former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and former Ravens coach Brian Billick were in the mix.That all changed when Kelly had a change of heart.Kelly built Oregon into a national powerhouse in a short time. The Ducks went to four straight BCS bowl games -- including a bid for the national championship against Auburn two seasons ago -- and have won three conference championships.Kelly originally went to Oregon in 2007 as offensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti. Before that, he was offensive coordinator at New Hampshire, where he started devising the innovative hurry-up offense the Ducks are known for now.Oregon finished last season 12-1. The team was ranked No. 1 and appeared headed for another shot at the national championship until a 17-14 loss to Stanford Nov. 17.Ducks athletic director Rob Mullens said Wednesday that Kelly called him at 7:15 a.m. PST to tell him he had changed his mind: "He wasn't sure if that opportunity would present itself again, so he felt this was the right one at the right time."Mullens now faces a coaching search amid recruiting season."I've turned the page," Mullens said. "I was surprised when I got the call this morning, but as the leader of this organization, my focus is on moving forward and that's what we're doing. I'm laser focused on what's next, and that's finding the right fit to lead Oregon football."It's unknown whether the possibility of NCAA sanctions based on Oregon's use of recruiting services factored into Kelly's reversal. He indicated in Arizona that he isn't running from anything."We've cooperated fully with them," he said. "If they want to talk to us again, we'll continue to cooperate fully. I feel confident in the situation."Kelly doesn't have any pro coaching experience, but aspects of his up-tempo offense are already being used by New England and Washington.The Eagles fired Reid after two forgettable years. A late flurry brought the team to an 8-8 finish last season, but this season, Philadelphia endured an eight-game losing streak, and dropped 11 of its final 12. A 3-1 start soon washed away, and Reid's 14-year tenure ended not long after. Within a week, Reid was Kansas City's new coach.Still, Kelly has tough shoes to fill. Reid won more games than any coach in franchise history and led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles, five conference championship games and one Super Bowl berth.Kelly and the Eagles have the No. 4 overall pick in the draft as well as some talented players on offense who could fit his scheme. Running back LeSean McCoy and receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin seem like ideal matches. Quarterback Nick Foles, however, isn't."I've never run the zone read," Foles said after the season. "I'm more of a dropback guy. I've been under center. I've been in the gun. If I can adapt, I want to. But I'm not a zone-read quarterback. Some people are gifted with different things. That's just not one of my skill sets. I can work on the speed in the offseason and get better with that. But I've always been a dropback guy in the pocket. I've been able to make plays on my feet throwing the ball or running for a first down."On the other hand, Michael Vick could be perfect. But it's unlikely the Eagles would want to pay the 16 million they'd have to shell out for an injury-prone quarterback, who will be 33 next season.Kelly had high praise for Foles after Oregon beat Arizona 56-31 in September 2011."I'll tell you what; I'm glad Nick Foles is graduating," Kelly said at that time. "I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes. Nick is a hell of a football player. That kid's a warrior. He's as good as anyone in the country."Others interviewed by Philadelphia were former Bears coach Lovie Smith, Atlanta assistants Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong, former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.The first Eagles to react to Kelly's hiring on Twitter were defensive players.Defensive end Brandon Graham wrote: "Happy to have Chip Kelly!! Now it's time to get to work!"Safety Kurt Coleman wrote: "Welcome Chip Kelly to the Eagles family. Can't wait to see what he brings to the team in 2013!"As he walked by the fans at the airport, Kelly, dressed in jeans and a sweat shirt, stopped to sign some autographs and share some laughs with the faithful.It indeed was a long journey. But if Wednesday is any indication, Kelly appears to fit right in with Philadelphia.

Why the Bears are feeling optimistic about their 2017 defense

Why the Bears are feeling optimistic about their 2017 defense

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The general vibe given off by defensive end Akiem Hicks and linebacker Jerrell Freeman -- the two Bears defenders made available to the media on Wednesday -- was of low-key optimism. 

A Bears defense beset by injuries last year ranked 24th in points allowed and only managed 11 turnovers in 2016. But Hicks and Freeman both see bigger things for this defense after general manager Ryan Pace retooled it with a number of veteran free agent signings. 

Specifically, Hicks believes the Bears' defense has enough been-there, done-that players to be the catalyst for victories. 

“Sometimes, it’s like a second nature, something that you have inside you,” Hicks said. “You just want to be in that situation. But it’s also something you can develop through a lot of reps. You know what I mean? A guy who comes in and has 5,000 reps over his career, he’s going to be able to get in that situation and play it with just a little bit more confidence than a guy in his first, second or even third year. 

“Because once you’ve gotten to a point where you’ve gotten enough snaps, you’ve seen everything. You felt disappointment, you’ve felt that feeling of victory at the end of the game when you’re walking off. I think that’s what bringing veteran guys to a team does. They’ve seen it all already.”

The Bears added four possible-to-likely starters to their defense in free agency: defensive end Jaye Howard, safety Quintin Demps and cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper. Those four players have a combined 24 years of NFL experience, and the Bears only have one rookie (safety Eddie Jackson) competing for a starting role. 

Couple the expected Year 1 to Year 2 growth of Leonard Floyd and the potential for a healthy Eddie Goldman with those veterans, and the Bears see enough players with the right mindset to build a sturdy defense. 

“I hope everyone on my defense wants to be the best player at their position,” Freeman said. “That’s the mentality I would want, and that’s the mentality I would want the rest of my defense to have. Getting better, lead a defense to one of the top defenses, just help my team in any kind of way to get some wins.”

Hawk Harrelson believes John Lackey is 'full of shit'

Hawk Harrelson believes John Lackey is 'full of shit'

Hawk Harrelson isn't buying John Lackey's explanation of innocence.

The Cubs right-hander plunked four White Sox batters in Tuesday's Crosstown throwdown at Wrigley Field, earning the on-air ire of the White Sox longtime broadcaster. Lackey said after the game that he did it on accident but understood the White Sox later retaliation.

Wednesday, a day after all those HBPs, Harrelson stuck to his guns, not believing the veteran pitcher for a second.

"He's full of shit, and you can print that," Harrerlson told the Tribune's Colleen Kane. "He's full of it. He always has been."

OK then.

"I was hoping that they would drill his ass big time because he's an idiot," Harrelson told Kane. "At that point, the game was not the issue. It was Lackey. He's in the pennant race. This is a big-boy game. There's no bullshit here. He's putting (Kris) Bryant and (Anthony) Rizzo in jeopardy."

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Harrelson, of course, is known for getting heated in the booth and historically has had little issue with expressing his anger on air. You'll remember past rants directed at umpires Mark Wegner and Joe West.

Lackey stirred up plenty of controversy with his four hit batsmen in Tuesday's White Sox loss, plunking Jose Abreu twice as well as Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada. Harrelson made his displeasure known during the broadcast and implied there would be retaliation. Chris Beck hit Ian Happ with a pitch after Lackey pegged three White Sox in the fifth inning.

Lackey's an old-school type himself, much like Harrelson, so it makes sense the two would be right in the middle of such a situation involving baseball's unwritten rules.