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Browns have sights on Oregon's Chip Kelly

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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.

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

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The case for - and against - the Redskins signing Colin Kaepernick

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The case for - and against - the Redskins signing Colin Kaepernick

Don't look in this space for an argument that the Redskins - who are reportedly signing Mark Sanchez as Colt McCoy's backup - should, or should not, sign Colin Kaepernick.

This space will lay out reasons why the Redskins should, and should not, consider signing Colin Kaepernick. 

It's not a binary decision. In fact, it's just about the opposite. 

Any debate about Kaepernick often gets bogged down in differing political view points. This is not the place for that. Rather, here is an attempt to make the case for or against Kaepernick from a football perspective. 

The case to sign Colin Kaepernick

  • The Redskins need a quarterback. Alex Smith broke his leg and Colt McCoy needs a backup. Of the available free agents out there, Kaepernick has by far the best stats and resume. As Chris Thompson explained of Kaepernick, "He made it to a Super Bowl." When he last played in 2016, Kaepernick had 16 TDs against just four INTs in 12 starts. 
  • Kaepernick has familiarity in the West Coast offense, and once backed up Alex Smith and played with Vernon Davis. 
  • Redskins QB coach and passing game coordinator Kevin O'Connell worked on the 49ers staff with Kaepernick.
  • Multiple Redskins players, including Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, said that the Nike pitchman deserves another chance in the NFL. 

The case not to sign Colin Kaepernick

  • Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL for nearly two full seasons. He hasn't practiced in a professional setting for more than a year. The Redskins are competing for the NFC East title. If they have to go to a backup QB, they want somebody that is game ready. It's hard to think Kaepernick fits that bill today. 
  • Earlier this season, Redskins CB Josh Norman had some choice words for Kaepernick after Panthers safety Eric Reid spoke out against the NFL Player's Coalition. Norman is an active particpant and leader on the Player's Coalition, a social rights group that Kaepernick distanced himself from. Putting Norman and Kaepernick in the same locker room might create some friction for a first-place team. 
  • At 6-4, the Redskins are in first place in the NFC East and should still be able to win games with McCoy at quarterback. Regardless how one feels about Kaepernick's activism, it will create a side show for any organization that brings him in. Cable news outlets like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC will descend on the Washington locker room should Kaepernick get signed. 

 

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    Redskins will reportedly sign Mark Sanchez as backup QB

    Redskins will reportedly sign Mark Sanchez as backup QB

    Mark Sanchez is reportedly set to join the Washington Redskins in advance of the Week 12 Thanksgiving day game against the Cowboys, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

    A devastating, season-ending injury to Alex Smith in Week 11 pushed Colt McCoy into the starting quarterback position, and without a third quarterback in-house, the Redskins had to sign a late replacement.

    Sanchez, who last played for the Bears during the 2017 season,  spent four seasons with the Jets after the team selected him out of Southern Cal with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

    Sanchez led the Jets to two AFC Championship games, but will ultimately be remembered for the "butt fumble" in a 2012 Thanksgiving day blowout loss to the New England Patriots. Sanchez's first game with the Redskins will take place exactly six years after the infamous moment.

    Sanchez has appeared in 77 games in seven seasons, starting 72. He's thrown for over 15,000 yards and has tossed 86 touchdown passes, while also throwing 86 interceptions.

    McCoy will start for the Redskins on Thursday in Dallas and is expected to be the starting quarterback for the rest of the season, with Sanchez serving as his backup and safety net.

    MORE REDSKINS NEWS