As the Chip Kelly saga continues well into the weekend, it appears we won't know which NFL team Kelly will choose until the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills all make pitches to the offensive guru.
Even then, he still might stick it out at Oregon.
However, if he decides that the NFL is the way to go, the Buffalo Bills are the best potential destination for the quick-hitting offense and unique personnel package coach as he takes his game to the next level.
Short of the Carolina Panthers' job opening (a real possibility in the next few days), it doesn't seem prudent for Kelly to continue on his path to the NFL. ESPN's Michael Smith voiced that thought a few days ago on Twitter:
Unless the Panthers gig becomes available Chip Kelly is better off going back to Oregon. The League isn't going anywhere.— Michael Smith (@michaelsmith) January 5, 2013
That being said, if Kelly is hell-bent on choosing the NFL route, the current suitor that will have the best shot at meeting his offensive needs seems to be the Bills. Cleveland's personnel situation is built for a more ground-and-pound attack, while Philadelphia has Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson—all capable of fitting the bill but somewhat worn out in the minds of Philadelphia fans.
Leaving Buffalo, home of a team that's been up-and-down over the past few years, with a shot at being the best fit for a coach that uses speed and quickness to outwit opponents.
At QB, Buffalo has a problem. Ryan Fitzpatrick would be done if Kelly was to arrive, but with the No. 8 pick in the draft and some cap room, the Bills could chase a QB at that pick, at another area in the draft or even look at expanding the position through trade or free agency.
At running back, C.J. Spiller emerged as one of the league's most explosive threats. Former head coach Tony Dungy answered a fan on Twitter recently with that same conclusion—Kelly would have fun with Spiller in his backfield.
Dungy (@TonyDungy) January 5, 2013
Stevie Johnson is around at WR, and even Brad Smith might find himself back in the mix as a Wildcat QB or one of the primary receivers with Kelly calling the shots. TE Scott Chandler, one of the league's most underrated pass-catching TE's, could also be valuable to Kelly's presence.
With other teams in the hunt for Kelly's services, he must decide what kind of task he wants to undertake. Cleveland appears to be the favorite in terms of dollars, but Philadelphia and Buffalo have more to offer.
Philly would be a quick-fix kind of city, and I'm not sure the fanbase would be on board with anything less than a playoff appearance with its next head coach. That's a tough place to enter.
As for Buffalo, Kelly would have weapons to work with on offense, a draft pick that he wouldn't have to use on an offensive lineman, and a chance to rebuild this franchise in whatever mold he wants. That's a lot of flexibility for a man that thrives on the word.
Throw Carolina out the window. As tantalizing as a Chip Kelly-Cam Newton combination would be, I don't think Carolina is ready to give up on Ron Rivera after a tough season. Of the current options, Buffalo is a dark-horse candidate right now, but shouldn't be after closer examination.
We'll see what Kelly decides after his second round of interviews, but don't be surprised if the Bills creep up as his favorite team in the next few days. They have the money, the talent and the potential to give Kelly all he needs as he starts his NFL career.
Then again, he might stick it out at Oregon. You just never know with this man.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.
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