Browns have sights on Oregon's Chip Kelly


Browns have sights on Oregon's Chip Kelly

CLEVELAND (AP) The Browns may strike quickly to get Chip Kelly, Oregon's coach who does everything in a hurry.

Kelly, whose up-tempo, fast-paced offense has captured the imagination of several NFL teams and maintained the Ducks' status as a national power, appears to be near the top of Cleveland's list of candidates to replace Pat Shurmur, fired earlier this week after going 9-23 in two seasons.

According to several reports, Browns CEO Joe Banner is already in Arizona and intends to interview Kelly, who is preparing the fifth-ranked Ducks for Thursday night's Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State. An interview could take place as early as Friday.

Kelly has been deflecting questions about his future all week. He did so again on Wednesday when he was asked if he expects to be contacted by NFL teams in the days ahead.

``I don't expect anything,'' said Kelly, 45-7 in four years at Oregon. ``I said this a million times. I'm never surprised by anything. I do not know what the future holds. I do know we have a football game tomorrow night and I'm going to be there.''

After that, his next stop isn't certain.

Kelly and Alabama's Nick Saban are the hottest commodities in the college game. It's possible that new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam may make a strong run at Saban, who worked in Cleveland as an assistant under Bill Belichick in the 1990s.

Saban would not be available for an interview until after next Monday's BCS title game, and the Browns could risk losing out on Kelly if they wait that long.

The Philadelphia Eagles are also believed to be interested in Kelly, who came close to taking Tampa Bay's job last year.

Browns safety T.J. Ward knows the 49-year-old Kelly as well as anyone. Ward, who walked on with the Ducks, believes his former coach is ready to make the leap to the pros.

``I think the players in the NFL would respect him and they will respect how he approaches you,'' Ward said. ``He lets you do your job. In college, he treated us like pros. I think that's what players respect and appreciate about him.''

It is not known if Haslam is with Banner in Arizona. Haslam said earlier this week that only he and Banner know which candidates may become Cleveland's sixth coach since 1999. The Browns, who have lost at least 11 games in each of the past five seasons, are not confirming any interviews.

On Tuesday, the Browns interviewed Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who said his meeting with the team was ``fantastic.''

Horton's interview satisfies the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to speak with a minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation positions.

Haslam and Banner made it clear that their next coach will have final say of the team's 53-man roster, a perk that could entice Kelly to leave Oregon. Kelly's pedal-to-the-metal offensive system is intriguing to the Browns and other teams who have already borrowed aspects of Oregon's no-huddle, go-go-go approach.

During the offseason, Kelly met with Belichick to share insight. Belichick has acknowledged using a few tips from Kelly, including the use of one-word play calls to speed up the Patriots offense.

``He's a great coach,'' Ward said. ``You can see what he's doing at Oregon. I think he has what it takes to be successful in this league. Whoever they pick, Chip is a great option. He's a great motivator. He comes in and he knows what he wants to do and he gets his players to play for him and play hard.

``He has a great scheme, great system. He's a high-energy coach.''

If Kelly comes to Cleveland, he may have to adjust his system to fit quarterback Brandon Weeden, who can throw the ball with anyone but doesn't have the speed to run a spread offense.

``I don't think I can run the zone read,'' Weeden said, smiling.

There are some who doubt Kelly's system can work in the NFL, arguing that it's a trendy gimmick that will be exposed by bigger, faster and stronger defenders. Kelly was asked if he thought it could work at the next level.

``Don't know, haven't been there,'' he said. ``There's a lot of ways to play football. Any coach is going to learn from other people and see how they can implement it in their system. Anything you do has to be personnel driven. You have to adapt to the personnel you have.''

Banner believes some elements of the spread offense are transferrable to the NFL.

``The game evolves and there is always some stealing from college into the pros and some stealing from going in the other direction,'' he said. ``You probably can't just take a pure NFL system and put it in college and have it work and you probably can't just take a purely clean current college system and put it in the pros and have it work.

``But that doesn't mean there are things that the right coach could integrate from both systems that could work very well at this level.''

Cleveland also must replace general manager Tom Heckert, who was fired after three seasons. However, Banner said it's possible the Browns may hire a player personnel director, giving the coach ultimate power.


AP College Football Writer John Marshall in Scottsdale, Ariz. contributed to this report.


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Wizards blown out by Spurs, as streak of losses in San Antonio since 1999 continues

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Wizards blown out by Spurs, as streak of losses in San Antonio since 1999 continues

The Washington Wizards lost to the San Antonio Spurs 98-90 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Streak continues: Many will tell you that San Antonio, TX is a wonderful city rife with history, good restaurants and warm weather. Please excuse the Washington Wizards if they hate the place.

They lost to the Spurs in a blowout on Wednesday and remain winless in San Antonio going all the way back to 1999. It was their 18th straight loss when playing at the Spurs.

The Spurs win games with their defense and this one was no exception. The Wizards scored their fewest points since Jan. 22, nearly two months, and shot just 42.7 percent. The Spurs hold opponents to the lowest points per game in the NBA (99.0) and the Wizards fell into all of their traps.

Bradley Beal was the only one immune to it. He had 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting. The rest of the Wizards shot just 26-for-69 (37.7%).

Losing in San Antonio has come to be expected for the Wizards, but they picked a bad night to drop a game. The Cavaliers and Sixers both won. Philly winning means more because they passed the Wizards in the East and currently sit fourth while the Wizards are in the sixth spot. 

If the playoffs began with those seeds, the Wizards would see the Cavaliers in the first round. Even though the Cavs aren't what they were a year ago, that should be avoided if possible.


Hustle plays: The Spurs also beat the Wizards at the minor details of the game, something they have long been good at under head coach Gregg Popovich. They got the loose balls and offensive rebounds at key moments to either sustain or steal momentum away from Washington.

In the first half, 40-year-old Manu Ginobli dove on the ground to beat Ramon Sessions to a loose ball and it led to two points by Pau Gasol. In the third quarter, Patty Mills flipped around quickly to steal an outlet pass from Marcin Gortat that led to free throws. And in the third there was one play when the Spurs got three offensive rebounds and ultimately got to the free throw line again.

The Spurs out-rebounded the Wizards 43-34 overall and outdid them in offensive rebounds 12-8. They just wanted it more on this particular night.


Oubre stood out: The Spurs' defense got the best of most players on the Wizards, but Kelly Oubre, Jr. was an exception. The third-year pro has been struggling with his shot in recent weeks, so in this one he stuck to high percentage looks, at least early. He had 10 points in his first nine minutes on 5-for-7 shooting, many of those attempts right around the rim.

Oubre attacked the lane dribbling both to his left and his right. He finished with floaters, tough layups and on one fastbreak with a thunderous left-handed slam:

Oubre ended up with 21 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He shot 9-for-17 from the field and 3-for-6 from three.

Oubre has continued to make an impact defensively, even when his shot is not falling. But he has to get more creative some nights to affect games when he isn't hitting from long range. Wednesday was a good example of how he can use his athleticism to take matters into his own hands.

It is a tricky balance, however, because sometimes his aggression can lead to mistakes. That certainly happened at times even in this game, as he had two turnovers. But when Oubre can contain his explosiveness, he can make a big difference.


Under the weather: Already without Wall, the Wizards had to shorten their rotation by two players against the Spurs as both Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott were out due to flu-like symptoms. In Meeks and Scott, the Wizards were missing two key pieces on their bench.

Instead of giving Tim Frazier and Jason Smith a rare and extended opportunity, head coach Scott Brooks instead chose to tighted things up. He relied heavily on the starters until the game was out of hand.

Brooks also got experimental, playing Tomas Satoransky (zero points, 0-for-7 FG) and Sessions together in the second quarter with Oubre and Otto Porter (12 points, seven rebounds) as the forwards. In the fourth quarter, we saw a lineup with three point guards: Sessions, Frazier and Satoransky.

The fact the Wizards had three days off before this game helped allow Brooks to rely on his starters early. It was also an opportunity for Brooks to see what life will be like when Wall returns. There is a chance Satoransky could see more time off the ball. This gave him another glimpse of how he can use Satoransky in more creative ways once the minutes at point guard go down significantly.


Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before returning home to host the Denver Nuggets on Friday with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington. That will be a special night at Capital One Arena as the Wizards retire Phil Chenier's No. 45 jersey. 

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by guest co-host Travis Thomas to break down Bradley Beal's All-NBA chances and John Wall's injury rehab.

They also discussed the crazy Eastern Conference playoff race, Trae Young's draft stock and essentials for a good snow day.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!