Chip Kelly looms as Eagles top coaching candidate


Add another collegiate name to the Eagles’ list of head coaching candidates.

Chip Kelly of Oregon is their top choice, according to NFL sources, with Bill O’Brien of Penn State on the radar. But the Eagles are also expected to target Doug Marrone of Syracuse, two league sources said Tuesday.

The Eagles have not commented on potential candidates other than to confirm that they have interviews set up with three Falcons assistants — defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, and special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong.

Marrone reportedly has interviews scheduled with the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills. He has solid credentials, having coached in both college and the NFL, and has been praised for turning the Syracuse program around despite the program’s second-tier talent.

The 48-year-old Marrone also has received credit for the development of quarterback Ryan Nassib, a former Malvern Prep star. Nassib is projected to be selected in the middle rounds of April’s draft.

The Orange went 8-5 this season and beat West Virginia, 38-14, in the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday. Marrone has a 25-25 record in four seasons.

Before taking the Syracuse job, Marrone was the New Orleans Saints’ offensive coordinator for three years under Sean Payton. With Drew Brees at quarterback, New Orleans finished first, fourth, and first in total offense from 2006 to ‘08, although Payton called the plays.

Marrone was the New York Jets’ offensive line coach from 2002 to ‘05. He worked at several colleges from 1992 to 2001. Marrone played college football at Syracuse and was briefly an offensive lineman with the Dolphins.

Jeffrey Lurie did not tip his hand Monday shortly after he fired Andy Reid. But the Eagles owner did tell reporters that there seemed to be more qualified college coaches than when he last had a vacancy to fill 14 years ago.

“The NFL tends to borrow more from college than the other way around,” Lurie said.

Lurie was aided in his 1999 search by Joe Banner and Tom Modrak. He said Monday that general manager Howie Roseman and team president Dom Smolenski would help him size up the candidates.

Eagles vs. Browns?

Banner, who stepped down as Eagles president in June, is now the CEO of the Cleveland Browns, who also are looking for a new coach. The Browns fired coach Pat Shurmur on Monday.

In what would be a showdown between Banner and his former team, the Eagles and Browns seem to be targeting the same college coaches. Aside from Marrone, Cleveland also has been linked to Kelly and O’Brien.

The Eagles seemed to fire the first shot when they made veiled references to the role Banner played in the failed 2010 and 2011 Eagles drafts.

In explaining why Roseman would remain, Lurie said that he held the third-year GM accountable only for the 2012 draft and offseason.

Banner was phased out early last offseason. He, of course, had something to do with the Eagles’ 15 previous drafts before 2010-11, some of which were successful.