The thick of NFL hiring season coupled with the urgency of draft strategies heating up can lead to some wildly interesting possibilities. For the Los Angeles football landscape, this could result in the ultimate odd-couple combination with Chip Kelly potentially serving as Caleb Williams’ offensive coordinator in 2024.
Chip Kelly To The NFL Intensifying
For a few weeks now, Kelly’s rumored interest and engagement with NFL offensive coordinator positions has gained significant legitimacy.
First, there was the possibility of Chip as OC for his longtime good-friend Bill Belichick in Atlanta, then there was a rumored “package deal” of Kelly with Dan Quinn to the Seattle Seahawks, only to be outdone by the most recent reports of Kelly interviewing “at least twice” for the Las Vegas Raiders OC role before Antonio Pierce finally chose cross-town offensive architect Kliff Kingsbury.
Now, with Quinn given the keys to the Washington Commanders’ kingdom, the connection to Kelly will once again be spotlighted as the former inventor of modern college football is reportedly rumored to have tangible interest in a return to the professional rankings.
This interest is timely and strategic for Chip Kelly, who after six seasons at UCLA with a 35-34 record, is facing legitimate “lame-duck” status as Bruins head coach in 2024 with his buyout number headed to zero in December.
That combined with the 24-7-365 nature of college recruiting today, along with UCLA’s much-maligned deficiencies with Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) resources, sandwiched with Kelly’s seeming desire to return to his more naturally introverted role of play caller at 60 years of age and the luxury of ultimate financial security, makes this feel much more tangible than traditional noise.
Caleb Williams To The Commanders?
Where the connection to the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner comes into play is Washington’s second-pick status in the 2024 NFL Draft.
There has been intrigue around Williams’ affection, or perceived lack thereof, for the Chicago Bears, who hold the top pick. This was magnified by his positive social media engagement when the topic of the Bears selecting Ohio State standout wide receiver, Marvin Harrison Jr, was widely proposed.
Furthermore, in the fall of 2023, Williams’ inner circle gave a list of five preferred destinations for this presumed once-in-a-decade prospect, with the Bears notably absent. A team that made the cut? Caleb’s hometown Commanders that would create the storybook prodigal son return to the DMV area – one this fanbase has been starved for since the NBA’s Kevin Durant jilted the Washington Wizards in 2019.
Another wrinkle is Chicago has a serious decision on how committed they are to incumbent 24-year-old starting quarterback, Justin Fields, who has flashed the voltage of superstardom at times during his first three NFL seasons.
If fan sentiment is any factor in the organization’s decision-making, it’s important to note Bears faithful passionately chanted “We Want Fields!” during Chicago’s Solider Field finale.
Both Caleb and Chip taking their talents to the Commanders is certainly more than pipedream, rather, a tantalizingly real possibility. After all, in what seems like ancient history now, these two reportedly hit it off very strongly in the spring of 2022 during Caleb’s Westwood visit after transferring from Oklahoma, before ultimately choosing USC.
One of the main sticklers in the discussion was the Bruins inability to match Williams’ NIL expectations, but the Williams-Kelly-aligned thinking around the offensive scheme was reportedly evident.
Can 2024 bring the reunion that 2022 couldn’t? Stay tuned.