BOCA RATON, Fla. — Chip Kelly closed the chapter on his tenure in Philadelphia by taking shots at the team’s front-office structure and blaming his firing solely on his failure to win last season.
Speaking openly about his abrupt dismissal for the first time since the Eagles fired him Dec. 29, Kelly insisted he never demanded control over personnel decisions and distanced himself from contracts given to free agents DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell last year.
“You learn from what you did, how things worked and you move on and try to get better every day,” Kelly said at the NFC coaches’ breakfast Wednesday during the NFL owners’ meetings.
There were more reporters from Philadelphia gathered around Kelly’s table than the one for new Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who sat across the room. Kelly spent much of his 60-minute session talking about the Eagles instead of his new team, the San Francisco 49ers.
By the way, he hasn’t discussed Colin Kaepernick’s situation with the quarterback but made it clear he wants him to stay.
As for the Eagles, Kelly didn’t hide that he thought the organization was dysfunctional. Howie Roseman was general manager in Kelly’s first two seasons when the Eagles went 10-6 both years. But Roseman fired Kelly’s hand-picked personnel guy, Tom Gamble, after the 2014 season, and things unraveled.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie maintains Kelly insisted he get control of personnel, so he gave it to him. Kelly said it didn’t go down that way. Regardless, Kelly took control of the 90-man roster, Ed Marynowitz was hired to be vice president of player personnel and Roseman was shifted to vice president of football operations.
“I didn’t like the direction it was heading. I didn’t think we were on the same page,” Kelly said, adding he was happy when Gamble was in charge of personnel. “But I didn’t ask for anything. It’s his organization, his team. He can run it however he wants to run it. It wasn’t like ‘I’m walking out the door.’”
Kelly said the situation with Roseman last year was “weird” and he communicated with him through Marynowitz, who was also fired in December.
“I never really saw [Roseman], so I don’t know what he did on a daily basis,” Kelly said. “I dealt with Ed and I thought Ed did an outstanding job. Ed talked to him about contracts.”
Kelly made several blockbuster moves after taking control of the roster. He traded Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy, didn’t re-sign Jeremy Maclin and released several longtime starters. He brought in Murray and Maxwell, who were traded earlier this month after one disappointing season.
“I was in charge of the 90-man roster, but I have never negotiated a contract in my life,” Kelly said. “I had nothing to do with any contract.”
Lurie said Tuesday he didn’t regret giving Kelly more power, even though it backfired. The Eagles went 7-9, winning their final game after Kelly was gone.
“I think it was a necessary way to go to find out if Chip was the right guy,” Lurie said.
Obviously, he wasn’t.
Kelly reunited with Gamble in San Francisco and had high praise for 49ers general manager Trent Baalke.
“Our personnel department is outstanding,” he said. “Trent has a great feel for how to put together a team. Three years ago, San Francisco was on the 5-yard line and had a chance to win the Super Bowl. He’s proven he can acquire talent and put talent on the field. He’s one of the GMs out at schools, visiting. I’m familiar with how he does things.”