Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said the following in a statement:
I have made a decision to release Chip Kelly this evening. I spent the last three seasons evaluating the many factors involved in our performance as a team. As I watched this season unfold, I determined that it was time to make a change.
As we move forward, the search for a new head coach will begin and will be led by myself, Don Smolenski and Howie Roseman. To the extent that we are able, we will try to keep you informed as we go through this process.
Kelly released a statement on his firing on Wednesday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
Ex-#Eagles coach Chip Kelly has released a statement, saying among other things, "My players mean the world to me." https://t.co/VGIPoaXaGZ12/31/2015, 1:35:24 AM
Philadelphia is 6-9 and has failed to make the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, though Kelly did record a wild-card berth in his first year and posted 10-6 records in 2013 and 2014.
NJ Advance Media's Eliot Shorr-Parks reported players were not informed of the decision until after it was made:
Eliot Shorr-Parks @EliotShorrParks
#Eagles did not tell the players that Chip has been fired. One just found out when I reached out to him for comment. "Damn. For real?"12/30/2015, 12:32:14 AM
Eliot Shorr-Parks @EliotShorrParks
#Eagles player reaction to Chip being fired: "I'm pissed". Had no idea it was coming.12/30/2015, 12:37:32 AM
ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reported Lurie wanted to strip personnel decisions from Kelly, and when the coach balked at the move, the Eagles owner fired him, per Kevin Winter of ESPN Radio.
However, on Wednesday, Rapoport reported that he had "not heard that this scenario [was] accurate," adding he was "looking for a big event" that led to Kelly being fired, but it sounded like Lurie "just called him in and fired him."
Kelly joined the Eagles after a four-year run of success and innovation at Oregon. He turned quarterback Nick Foles, whom many had written off, into a Pro Bowler and LeSean McCoy into the NFL's leading rusher in 2013. While Kelly's inaugural campaign ended in a playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints, many suspected it was the first in what would be a long string of postseason runs.
But things got worse.
The Eagles were a flawed team in 2014, particularly offensively. Foles took a step back and was replaced by Mark Sanchez, who performed better but was still an average-at-best option. McCoy's production dipped by nearly a yard per carry, and his touchdowns were almost cut in half. Kelly also made a batch of questionable personnel decisions, including cutting star wideout DeSean Jackson.
Those curious moves continued a year later, when Kelly gained more control over personnel and reshaped the roster to his liking.
He was unable to re-sign Pro Bowl wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who inked a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, and he sent McCoy packing in a trade with the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Kelly then acquired Sam Bradford from the St. Louis Rams in exchange for Foles and a draft pick and handed a massive contract to running back DeMarco Murray.
None of those moves panned out.
Then things fell apart on the field. The Eagles started 4-4 before losing three straight games. That led to increased talk about Kelly's future, which was speculatively tied to a number of collegiate and pro jobs.
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman noted the time was right to make a move:
mike freeman @mikefreemanNFL
Eagles made right move releasing Chip Kelly now. Wasn't going to work. Might as well make move.12/30/2015, 12:29:16 AM
"I think momentum and signs seem to be piling up against a Chip Kelly return to Philadelphia," ESPN's Adam Schefter said on SiriusXM NFL Radio in November (h/t Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice). "I think both sides are sick of each other. I think the fans are tired of him. I think he's tired of the situation there. [That's] just my read, from afar."
An unnamed Eagles player spoke to Ed Werder of ESPN about the relationship between Kelly and his players, saying, "He is definitely someone who doesn't communicate."
Since Kelly has been jettisoned, he's able to take another NFL job without the Eagles receiving compensation, and Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com noted the coach is hopeful to remain in the pro ranks.
The Tennessee Titans look like an interesting fit, given they have Marcus Mariota in place. The Oregon product is the quarterback Kelly reportedly wanted prior to the 2015 NFL draft, per former Ducks defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, who said as much in an April interview with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (via Bryan Fischer of NFL.com).
Stewart Mandel of FoxSports.com is already looking ahead to a reunion:
Stewart Mandel @slmandel
In all seriousness, Chip's going to try to stay in the NFL (looking at you, Titans.) But if nobody calls ...12/30/2015, 12:27:29 AM
As it stands, the Eagles have a roster built around Kelly's tastes but little to show for it. Odds are, things are only going to get worse before they get better.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.
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