Chip Kelly Would Fit In Carolina
Published Dec. 12, 2012
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
The Carolina Panthers are still three weeks away from making their decision on head coach Ron Rivera. Owner Jerry Richardson has been clear that the team has to finish on the upswing for Rivera to come back. Sunday's win over Atlanta was a start, but the three remaining games will decide his fate.
Rivera needs to win at least two, if not all three, games to earn a third season in Carolina. The Panthers go to San Diego, host the Raiders and finish at New Orleans. Winning all three is possible, but the 2012 Panthers have struggled with consistency. The seat is on fire under Rivera, and it wouldn't be surprising if he is let go in early January.
One head coaching candidate who could fit Carolina well is Oregon head coach Chip Kelly. After turning the Ducks into one of the top programs in the nation, he is said to be ready to jump to the NFL. Kelly could have made the leap a year ago, but he turned down the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Panthers would be an ideal fit for Kelly. In Carolina, he would have one of the NFL's most athletic quarterbacks, Cam Newton. A dual-threat signal-caller like Newton would allow Kelly to incorporate some of his college spread-option offense into his NFL system.
In speaking with sources, they said that Kelly to Carolina is possible. Former Panthers general manager Marty Hurney thought very highly of Kelly, and he was discussed two years ago before Rivera was hired. Richardson was extremely close to Hurney, so that opinion could still carry some influence.
Kelly has never coached in the NFL, so many believe that an owner like Richardson would want to hear the names of some NFL experienced assistant coaches whom he would bring on staff. One name to keep an eye on is Monte Kiffin. After four seasons in college football, Kiffin is ready to return to the NFL. Kelly is good friends with Jon Gruden, who would give a wholehearted endorsement to having a legendary coordinator like Kiffin on Kelly's staff.
Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Kiffin would prefer to be in the Southeast if he had the option. The Buccaneers coaching staff always had a lot of respect for the Carolina franchise and former head coach John Fox. Kiffin and Kelly landing with the Panthers makes some sense.
However, all that depends on how Rivera's Panthers play in the final three weeks of the season.