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.
No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.
That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.
The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.
The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.
They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.
They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.
“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”
Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.
An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.
“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.
After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.
“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”
Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.
The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.
“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”
Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.
But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.
A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.
“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.”