The New England Patriots make an obvious landing place for former Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly. Kelly was released from the 49ers thus year after just one season and Belichick really appreciates Kelly’s offensive creativity and unorthodox methods of maintaining player well-being.
Kelly was on a shortlist of potential Jaguars offensive coordinators, but when Jacksonville went in a different direction Kelly was back on the market- so Patriots head coach Bill Belichick invited Kelly to New England.
According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Kelly was a participant at the Patriots practice on Thursday.
“One Patriots player said Kelly's presence at Thursday's practice caught his eye,” Reiss shares in his Sunday notes. “The connection between Bill Belichick and Kelly is well-documented, and here's some additional context on Kelly's visit: Because he has a home in New Hampshire, he was in the region regardless, so it's an easy trip to make to check in with a confidant.”
Belichick has a habit of inviting his friends to Patriots practice and has done so in the past with the likes of Greg Schiano and former players like Sammy Morris. Belichick was likely picking Kelly’s brain at practice, and there’s always the chance to see if there would be a possible fit for Kelly as an offensive assistant in 2017.
Belichick has hired the likes of Josh McDaniels and Brian Daboll back into the organization after failed stints around the league, so Belichick probably wouldn’t mind if Kelly is able to rehabilitate with his image for a year or two in New England- especially since the Eagles and 49ers will be footing the bill since coaching contracts are guaranteed.
Another big factor is Kelly’s influence on the Eagles sports science program. The year before Kelly’s arrival in Philadelphia, the Eagles ranked 18th in games lost; in his three years with the Eagles, they ranked 1st, 5th, and 6th, despite playing an increased number of snaps in his high tempo playbook. The Eagles liked the sports science program so much that they kept it in place after firing Kelly, and Philadelphia is again the healthiest team in the league.
The Patriots are in the middle of their healthiest season in years and adding Kelly’s insight could keep the healthy momentum rolling.