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Chip Kelly thanks Eagles, regrets lack of championship

Fired Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly said Wednesday night that he was "grateful" and "blessed" to coach the team.

"I'm am deeply grateful to [owner] Jeffrey Lurie for allowing me to coach his Philadelphia Eagles for the past three seasons," Kelly said in a statement. "I deeply regret that we did not bring this great city and its fans the championship they deserve. I was blessed to work with a gifted and hard-working coaching staff every day, and they will succeed wherever they go."

Kelly was fired Tuesday after the Eagles failed to meet lofty expectations in his third season as coach. They had a 6-9 record and were eliminated from playoff contention Saturday. They have one game remaining, Sunday against the New York Giants.

Kelly wished the Eagles well moving forward.

"My players mean the world to me," he said. "I will miss them very much, and I will be rooting for them to achieve their dreams. Life is all about responding to challenges and seizing opportunities."

Earlier Wednesday, Lurie addressed the media and called 2015 "one of the most disappointing seasons" in his 21 years as owner.

He said he evaluated the team's record as well as its "trajectory" and concluded that an immediate change was needed. A year ago, he gave Kelly full control over personnel decisions.

"There was a risk involved in allowing Chip to have that kind of say over player transactions," Lurie said. "However, risk/reward -- sometimes the risks don't work. In this case, they didn't."

Lurie said he made the decision to terminate Kelly on Tuesday because he wanted to get started on the process of finding a new coach. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will serve as interim coach for the season's final game against the Giants. Lurie said he hasn't ruled out Shurmur or any members of the current staff as candidates.

Lurie said he would consider college coaches and retired coaches as well as current NFL head coaches and assistants. Lurie, team president Don Smolenski and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman will head up the search committee.

Lurie made it clear he wants a coach who can relate to his players and everyone else in the building.

"You've got to open your heart to players and everybody you want to achieve peak performance," he said. "I would call it a style of leadership that values information and all of the resources that are provided and at the same time values emotional intelligence. I think in today's world, a combination of all those factors creates the best chance to succeed."

Kelly didn't have close relationships with many of his players, and former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy and cornerback Brandon Boykin were critical of him after he traded them.

Lurie said he wants "someone who interacts and communicates very clearly with everyone he works with."

Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson, who was Kelly's first draft pick, said his former coach was considered by many players to be "unapproachable."

"I want to see a guy who really cares about his players and isn't so set in his ways so we can all go in the same direction," Johnson said. "I think Chip had good intentions. I just think that he didn't have a good way to go about it, and sometimes it came off a little bit standoffish toward y'all. That's just his way. I don't know if he had anybody to confide in, but I think all in all, I know he cared about the players."

Linebacker Connor Barwin said he had a good relationship with Kelly.

"We communicated well together, and maybe that was just me," Barwin said. "Obviously, you want a great leader. You want somebody that knows the game obviously very well, someone that can relate to the players, somebody the players can trust."

Quarterback Sam Bradford, who could be a free agent after the season, said he still wants to return next year despite all the uncertainty.

"Chip was great to me," he said. "It's tough to lose him."

Lurie said he met with players as a group Wednesday and had smaller meetings planned with them later in the day.

"It was a clear and important decision that had to be made," he said.

ESPN's Phil Sheridan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.