CHIP KELLY said he hopes to see Sam Bradford throwing and moving well at practice Tuesday, and he said he's "very confident" in defensive coordinator Bill Davis.
Shame on you for whatever smart-aleck thing that is you're thinking.
Kelly said Bradford, cleared last week for the concussion he suffered in the Miami loss, will practice Tuesday, testing the AC joint sprain he sustained on the same play.
"I just don't know where we are from a throwing standpoint with him. He threw a little bit on Thursday in Detroit . . . The big test will be (Tuesday) in terms of him throwing the ball around and seeing if there is residual soreness," Kelly said.
It's Bradford's left, nonthrowing, shoulder but Kelly said there must be "stability on that side . . . If you have some instability in there, you're susceptible to something if you get hit. Can he handle that? Can he take a hit? It's not something that's going to affect him long-term."
Getting Bradford back certainly would be a move in the right direction, as the 4-7 Eagles attempt to pull out of their three-game death spiral. But Davis' defense has played so horribly the last couple of games, backup quarterback Mark Sanchez's struggles in place of Bradford hardly have mattered.
Davis is scheduled to speak Tuesday, and it's going to be a tough session with a man reporters enjoy engaging, because he is polite and articulate and explains his thinking without ever seeming to take offense at pointed questioning.
But this defense, burned for 10 touchdown passes in a five-day, 90-point span? Facing a ticked-off Tom Brady this weekend, on the Patriots' field, a week after New England's first loss of the season? Never mind how many weapons the Pats are missing, this shapes up as a horrible, gruesome mismatch, another chapter in a searing season of loss.
Davis got the job here because he grew up in the 3-4 system Kelly wants his teams to run. But it's a scheme that heavily depends on being able to get pass-rush pressure, and lately, the Eagles haven't been generating that, their defenders possibly worn down from playing more snaps than anyone in the league, thanks to Kelly's furious offensive pace.
"I'm very confident in Billy and all those guys on the defensive side of the ball," Kelly said, in his first meeting with reporters since Thursday's 45-14 loss at Detroit, which followed a 45-17 home loss to Tampa Bay. "I've seen Billy do a great job. Up until two weeks ago, I thought we were doing some really good things on the defensive side of the ball . . . I've seen him coach, and I know Billy knows football. I know Billy is a good communicator, teacher, and a really good football coach."
Kelly spoke of having had more time than usual to rewatch the Lions game, but his insights weren't specific - he talked of mental lapses, physical breakdowns such as missed tackles, and communication problems. He stressed how well Lions QB Matt Stafford threw.
What Kelly surely knows is that the play of his inside linebackers, against the rush and the pass, has dropped off alarmingly since rookie Jordan Hicks was lost for the season with a torn left pectoral tendon he suffered in the Dallas game. DeMeco Ryans, who seems literally hamstrung, is playing fewer snaps than Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks, two would-be stars who constantly seem late to read and react after returning from injuries.
Asked if the ILBs are killing Davis' defense, Kelly said: "I wouldn't say 'killing us,' is the word, but I think we've had some breakdowns there that we normally don't have at that position . . . We had three big pass plays from the running backs in that (Detroit) game that I think hurt us."
Alonso, who missed five games this season with a knee problem after sitting out 2014 with a torn ACL, is "a little bit behind," Kelly said. "Mychal is fully healed now . . . It's just a matter of those guys putting everything together."
Another big issue is the season-ending broken ankle starting corner Nolan Carroll suffered in Detroit. Rookie Eric Rowe came in for Carroll in the second quarter, and Calvin Johnson began dominating him until Davis belatedly allowed Byron Maxwell to switch sides to stay with Johnson full time.
"I thought Eric competed," Kelly said.
Kelly said the TD throw over Rowe in the left corner of the end zone, right after Rowe broke up a pass on the same pattern, "was probably as good a throw and as good a catch as I've seen. I'm not sure there's another receiver in the NFL that could have made that catch, because of Calvin's length and his ability to turn his body and go get that. I thought the coverage actually was as tight as it probably could be . . . I think he has got some things he can learn and grow from, but I think we were impressed with how he competed out there."
Kelly said no "drastic" lineup changes are afoot. He said backups will get an opportunity in practice to show they deserve more snaps, as is the case every week.
"I think we're going to do what we do," Kelly said, when asked about "fundamental" changes. "We're not going to put the wishbone in . . . you're not going to outscheme people this week by changing your schemes at this point in time during the season."
Kelly said the defense plays too many snaps because the offense isn't working as it should.
"We only ran 59 plays, I think, on Thursday against Detroit, and that's where we're hurting. (Two games) before, we had 98 snaps against the Miami Dolphins."
Chip Kelly said running back Ryan Mathews has not completed the concussion protocol (this is starting to get alarming, by the way) and tight end Zach Ertz "has to see the independent neurologist," the last step to get fully cleared . . . Kelly said he thinks left tackle Jason Peters, who left the Detroit game with an ankle injury, will be OK this week . . . The Eagles yet again released Julian Vandervelde, this time bringing in a center-guard from the Bears' practice squad, Barrett Jones, who played for o-line coach Jeff Stoutland at Alabama . . . Ex-Eagles linebacker Brandon Hepburn rejoined the practice squad, which also added cornerback Mike Lee, who was in the Falcons' camp this past summer.
On Twitter: @LesBowen