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Browns, Eagles vying for Oregon's Kelly

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Browns, Eagles vying for Oregon's Kelly

CLEVELAND (AP) The Browns figured they could close a deal with Chip Kelly over dinner.

That was before the Eagles took Oregon's coach to a lengthy lunch.

Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner spent much of Saturday waiting for a second meeting with Kelly, the Ducks' offensive mastermind, to hopefully finalize an agreement to make him the Browns' sixth full-time coach since 1999.

However, Kelly decided to keep a scheduled interview with Philadelphia that lasted longer than expected and carried into the night, delaying the Browns' second chance at signing college football's hottest coach.

Kelly and his representatives had met Haslam and Banner for a reported seven hours in Arizona on Friday. They came close to reaching a deal, but the sides parted company without a financial agreement with signs pointing toward Kelly leaning toward joining the Browns.

Kelly also met with the Buffalo Bills on Friday, and he decided to keep his appointment with the Eagles, who had briefly pulled their interest in pursuing the 49-year-old after they learned a deal between Kelly and Cleveland was near. It's possible Kelly and his agent, David Dunn, are meeting with the other teams to gain leverage with the Browns and sweeten the coach's contract.

But there's also a chance Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman are making a hard push at Kelly to steal him away from the Browns.

Banner spent 19 seasons with Philadelphia, the past 12 as president, but left the club last year and has had a falling out with Lurie, a longtime friend.

Kelly nearly jumped to the pros last year with Tampa Bay but decided at the last minute to return to Oregon, where he has been coach since 2009.

As of 1 a.m. on Sunday, it was still unclear where Kelly wound wind up - Cleveland, Philadelphia or back at Oregon.

NFL.com reported that the Browns met with Syracuse's Doug Marrone for a second time on Saturday as the Eagles talked to Kelly. The report said the Browns are trying to decide if they prefer Kelly or Marrone.

It's still possible the Browns will get Kelly, but it may have been harder than they thought it would be 24 hours ago.

Haslam and Banner plan to hire a coach before they seek a general manager to pair with him. The Browns have also promised that their next coach will have final say and control over the club's 53-man roster, perks that will likely limit their talent pool when looking for a GM or pro personnel director.

Kelly went 46-7 in four years at Oregon, where his high-tempo, warp-speed offense averaged nearly 50 points per game this season. He has no pro coaching experience, but some of his offensive principles are being used by New England and Washington.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick met with Kelly in the offseason and has adopted a few of the Ducks' offensive wrinkles into his schemes this season.

Following Oregon's win over Kansas State in Thursday night's Fiesta Bowl, Kelly said he hoped to have the interview process ``wrapped up quickly and figure out where I'm going to be.''

All indications are that he's headed to Cleveland, where he'll inherit a young roster that showed some promise this season.

Haslam and Banner have been in Arizona all week. They camped out there early to get first crack at Kelly and conducted at least four other known interviews before meeting with him.

Cleveland has also spoken with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Marrone and Penn State's Bill O'Brien, who removed himself from consideration Thursday and said he would return for his second season with the Nittany Lions.

Marrone could be a solid fall-back candidate for the Browns if Kelly rejects them.

The 48-year-old restored Syracuse's program in his four seasons at the school, leading the Orange to a 25-25 record. After a slow start this season, Syracuse won six of its last seven games and defeated West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Before he was at Syracuse, Marrone spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator at New Orleans, where he helped Saints quarterback Drew Brees throw for more than 4,000 yards in three straight seasons.

The Browns are not commenting on any candidates or interviews until they hire a successor for Pat Shurmur, who was fired after going 9-23 in two seasons.

Haslam and Banner believe Kelly can fix Cleveland's franchise, which has made just one playoff appearance in 14 years. Saturday was the 10th anniversary of the Browns' last postseason game, a 36-33 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the decade since, the Browns have had nine double-digit loss seasons and changed coaches four times.

Cleveland's current run of at least 11 losses in five straight seasons is the second-longest streak of futility in NFL history. Only the Oakland Raiders (2003-2009) have had one longer.

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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