Chip Kelly shoots down college rumors again

Chip Kelly's future in Philadelphia has become a popular topic of speculation in recent days, but Kelly made clear Monday that he was never involved in Southern California's coaching search and is not interested in returning to college football.

"I've never spoken to anybody from USC. I've never e-mailed anybody from USC. I never got a phone call from anybody from USC," Kelly said. "I'm not involved with any college jobs. . . . I haven't been involved with any jobs or discussed anything with any colleges."

The NFL Network reported that USC touched base with Kelly before hiring Clay Helton on Monday. A coaching website, footballscoop.com, reported that Kelly met with USC officials in Philadelphia, and it was believed to be on Friday. Kelly emphatically denied the report and said he wasn't even in Philadelphia on Friday. Kelly returned to his native New Hampshire for the weekend.

He said his agent was not in contact with USC, either. The Eagles coach said he cannot control what is written and that he does not need to address the topic with his players because it's not true. He also made clear that he is committed to staying in Philadelphia.

"I've said that a hundred times," Kelly said. "I don't know how many more times I have to say it when it continues to come up. I can't control that, so I don't have to say that to my players every single time. I've never been involved in any other job since I came here. When I got here on Jan. 16, 2013, this is where I wanted to be."

Kelly said that he speaks "all the time" with owner Jeffrey Lurie but that he has not sought assurances about his future from the owner. They spoke Monday morning about preparing for the New England Patriots on Sunday, Kelly said.

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That seemed to be where Kelly's attention was focused on Monday despite the scuttlebutt about his coaching future. Kelly is trying to figure out how to uncoil the Eagles from a three-game losing streak and somehow salvage the season. Despite a 4-7 start, the Eagles are only one game out of first place in the NFC East. But it does not help that they play Sunday against the Patriots, who are 10-1.

Kelly spent the weekend watching the Patriots' first 10 games - all wins. The loss did not come until Sunday night. He also spent more time than usual watching the Eagles' 45-14 loss to the Detroit Lions. The extra time over the weekend allowed for such torture.

"I say this all the time and truly mean it: It's not one thing - if we fix 'this', we're good, everything is straight and the score's going to be changed the other way," Kelly said. "There are breakdowns that occur that have to be corrected. Sometimes it's communication. Sometimes it's a physical breakdown where we may miss a tackle or a block, or we don't catch a pass. It's a physical thing; it is not a mental thing. But there are too many of them right now for us to be consistent as a football team."

Kelly reiterated his confidence in defensive coordinator Bill Davis even though the Eagles have allowed 90 points in the last two weeks. Kelly also admitted that the defense is getting worn down from playing so many snaps. He attributed it to the way the offense is playing, although the Eagles offense has more scrimmage plays than the defense this year. But the game-by-game variance is the problem.

"If we're not getting the requisite amount of snaps, then that's where we're hurting our defense," Kelly said. "We talk about it all the time: It's plays run. We only ran 59 plays, I think, on Thursday against Detroit and that's where we're hurting. The week before, or two weeks before, we had 98 snaps against the Miami Dolphins. It's really just the production from the offensive side of the ball in terms of what's giving them an opportunity to wear us down on the defensive side of the ball."

Kelly did not rule out lineup changes for the Patriots game, although major changes are unlikely. And the scheme will remain unchanged, too. Kelly is here to stay in Philadelphia - at least for now - and so are the players he picked and the scheme he brought. He just needs to give a reason for confidence in both.

"I think anytime you're not successful, you worry about the mind-set of your team going in," Kelly said. "Part of that that we talk about all the time is: Execution fuels emotion. If we're not executing, then we're not going to play with a lot of confidence; that's just human nature. If you're going out and not having success, then it's tough for you to say, 'We've got a lot of confidence in this.' But I've seen this team this year play with confidence."

zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm