Chip Kelly praises Nick Foles for being cool under fire
Eagles coach Chip Kelly met with reporters a day after his team routed the Chicago Bears, 54-11, at Lincoln Financial Field. Here's a transcript of the conversation.
Did you come up with that "We're from Philadelphia, we fight" line spontaneously or did you think of it at the press conference?
It came up at halftime when [NBC sideline reporter] Michelle [Tafoya] was asking me if we were going to take our starters out.
Talk about this team now compared to the last time you played Dallas.
We're just more experienced. We've been together longer. I think we have a better understanding as a coaching staff of our players and what they can do and putting those guys in a position to make plays. I think everybody is a byproduct of their experiences and I think that the reps that all those guys have gotten – I think it was [Eagles QB] Nick's [Foles] second or third game playing, he's gotten a lot more reps in there too – people getting comfortable, understanding the situation and knowing when guys are going right, guys are going left. I just think the experience factor is a lot different than when we played them earlier in the season.
Is it hard to make sense of that performance out of Nick, though, given the rest of the sample size?
The example last night?
No, from the first Dallas game.
Yeah, we don't dwell on it. We correct the mistakes, and I know [Eagles quarterbacks coach] Billy [Lazor] does a great job of that, and then we move on, and I don't think you can put more weight on one game that you can on another game. You can't sit there and say when we do play really well, let's spend more time on that game. We just look at everything the same way, and I think we're pretty consistent in our approach.
Can a game like last night with the starters help you build momentum as you go into next week?
You'd like to say that, but not in this league. I think that's the one thing you'd better get rid of, whether it's a win or a loss, very quickly. I'll give Dallas credit; they gave up a 23‑point lead to Green Bay the week before, and the sky is falling, and then they come back and they beat Washington. This league will test you from the standpoint of it's not what you did last week, it's what you do this week, and it's about how you prepare. When we get back to work tomorrow, we'd better understand that.
How important has center Jason Kelce been to this team?
He's been huge. I think everything that we get started on the offensive side of the ball starts with him. He sets the blocking schemes for us. Very, very smart, and a real student of the game and spends a lot of time on the intricacies with him and [offensive line] coach [Jeff] Stoutland kind of going over how do we want to block this, how do we want to do that. He's really almost the coach on the field for that group, and he takes a little pressure off the quarterback. In some systems, the quarterback is making all those calls, and in our system our center does it, and it's because Jason can handle it, and I think he's been really invaluable to us.
You talked when you first got him in here about the leadership skills, but how important is it also as a leader to also be good at the position you play?
Yeah, that's always the biggest ‑‑ I think the biggest thing. A lot of people can talk about it, but you have to be able to do it. He does it every day. I've always felt that you know you have a really good team when your best players are your hardest workers. You look at [LB] DeMeco Ryans and [LB] Trent Cole and Jason Kelce and [T] Jason Peters and [TE] Brent Celek and [RB LeSean] McCoy and [WR] DeSean [Jackson], and it goes on. There's not one guy you're going to say, 'Look, we don't get a real lot out of him in practice but he's a gamer.' We don't have a bunch of gamers, we have a bunch of guys that really understand that we win because of our preparation, and he's a prime example of that.
When you look at the tape of the Chicago game, did you see a lot of protection issues with them? Did you feel like that was an area you exploited?
Not really, and a lot of it goes to our guys, too. Schematically, it was that they had hat for hat, but guys defeated one‑on‑one blocks, and I think our D‑line keeps getting better and better each week. A lot of those guys are difficult when they get in single block situations. Trent is a guy just because of how tenacious he is and then the experience he has of being a really good pass rusher. Very rarely do we have a guy just clean coming in where it was a schematic deal. It was just our guys are doing a really good job of beating one‑on‑ones, and that's what they did. [LB] Mychal Kendricks' sack, same thing; he's just doing a great job defeating one‑on‑one blocks.
How do you remember Dallas handling that the first time you played them?
I had forgotten about that game.
You stuck with Bryce Brown as your No. 2 tailback even when his numbers weren't great early on, wasn't getting a lot of yards. What did you see from him that gave you confidence to stick with him?
We always talk two‑three. I think we have two of them, so I think you'll see [RB] Chris [Polk] in there, as well. As a staff we don't talk about it as two and three.
Bryce has gotten a lot more carries than Chris.
Yeah, but that's not how we look at it, as who's two, who's three, it's just depending on what we're doing. But the one thing we know about Bryce, he's a really good downhill runner. I think he's just starting to hit his stride, starting to figure out kind of what we're doing, but it's been really about him and how hard he's worked. And I think the fact that Chris is there, we have competition at that position, and I think they both bring the best out of each other and really just happy with how we performed yesterday. I think hopefully it's something we can build upon this week coming up.
Players have talked about how even keeled Nick is. What's the most frustrated you've seen him in your time knowing him here?
I don't know if I've seen him frustrated to be honest with you. I mean, I'm sure he gets frustrated, but I don't have a story where I can say, 'Hey, there was one time where he threw his chin strap.' He's just really matter‑of‑fact, very on‑point with what he's got to do and what he's got to correct if he doesn't do it the right way.
How do you keep them from not getting too high given that this game is for everything and the biggest game a lot of them played ever?
Well, last night was the same way, and I think that's been our approach. Since we went 3‑5, every game has been kind of our back is against the wall. This game is no different. As I told those guys last night, and I'll say again, for us the playoffs just started this week. If we're fortunate enough to win on Sunday then we get an opportunity to play again. If we don't win on Sunday then we're not playing again. It's very black and white to us. I don't think I have to hammer that home in terms of this is the biggest game, because it is.
Does Nick live by that credo you preach, about playing with emotion but not letting emotion play with you, maybe as good as anyone on the team?
I think so, but I think we have a lot of guys that do that. That's the one thing, the reason we are where we are. I think DeMeco Ryans is a prime example of that. DeMeco is just such a consistent, steadying force. I don't think you ever see DeMeco lose his composure out there. But there's intensity to him, there's intensity to him in meetings, there's intensity to him in practice. Again, when your best players are like that, I think that helps overall for everybody.
How do you plan on handling the holiday this week in terms of time and scheduling?
We'll do a little bit more tomorrow because it's Christmas Eve and then we'll compact Christmas Day. I thought it was really important for our guys to be with their families and open presents with their kids, so we'll start our day on Christmas Day at 11:00 and then try to get them out of there for Christmas dinner. We'll just kind of tighten up a little bit more on Tuesday, a little bit more on Thursday and kind of tighten up Wednesday.
The way Nick reacted after that first Dallas game, you said he doesn't really show emotion and takes everything even keel, was that kind of like a key moment as far as his ability to do that, just kind of the way he reacted from that game?
Yeah, I don't know about his reaction, but I just know about his performance when we went back on the field against Oakland, because you can react the same way, but if you go out and perform the same way, that's two different things. I think it was really his performance that made a statement to everybody.
In your experience of big bowl games, big Pac‑12 games, do you do anything to try to keep them loose or is it just the consistency of the approach?
I think it's really the consistency, and I think if you make it more than what it is, they know. They're pretty sharp.
It's just like how I can't give them a fire and brimstone speech in a preseason game and tell them this is a Super Bowl. They're going to go, 'Coach, it's a preseason game.' They understand what it is, but they also have to understand our mentality is that every single time you get a chance to compete you've got to consider what's on the line.
There's not a magic formula of how you get I've got to get geared up for this and not get geared up for this. I think if you do, you're living in peaks and valleys. I think we've got a competitive team. They take two‑minute situation in practice as a competitive situation, and that's what you hope. You've got a bunch of competitors that when the whistle blows they're going to go out and compete.
Do you get that every time a thousand times in a row? No, and I think that's the biggest thing. Teams that can be consistent over time with the teams that win.
Coach Marc Trestman talked last night about how much the game changed after you guys got those two quick scores in the first quarter. Obviously it helps to get a turnover, but how much of your offensive philosophy with the tempo is based on the way that that can suffocate the corner and get them out of what they want to accomplish?
It's not based on that. We would like to play that way the entire game. It's just sometimes we don't execute the way we need to execute to stay on top of it, but our guys were fortunate. Want to kind of when the momentum is on your side you want to keep that going, but again, sometimes that's easier said than done.
But I'll give credit to our guys for really executing in the clutch and in some of those situations understanding how important it was to kind of jump out to a lead against a really good team and kind of get them to play off‑schedule and throw a lot more and really take some of their running game out of it.
I thought going in that [Bears RB Matt] Forte was going to be a real tough match‑up from the running standpoint because he had done such damage to other teams going into it, but really I think because we jumped out to a lead it kind made them a little bit more of a one‑dimensional team.
You've been at this for 15 weeks now and going through all the games and stuff, what's been the hardest lesson that you've learned coaching at this level?
I mean, I guess I don't look at it ‑ I think I learn lessons every single day, but I don't look at one as harder than another. I think every day there's things that come up that you've got to kind of problem solve, but I think we as a staff kind of embrace that. How do we handle this and what's our answer here, and then maybe sometimes if we don't have the answer, then it's let's go back to the drawing board and start it again.
But I think we kind of embrace that mindset, so we don't look at anything as hard, but we look at it as every day we can learn from what we're doing.
I can't imagine a lot of starting cornerbacks are on the kickoff coverage units on all teams. Bradley Fletcher has been in that role all year. Why have him there and what value has he brought?
Well, I think it's an emphasis of how important special teams are to us. He just is what we ask that particular position on that team to do, I think he's ideal for it. I think it also says to him and to the rest of our team what this deal is all about. It's about winning football games, and if we can get contributions from him on teams and that's going to help us win, then he's going to do it.
When you just look at that play kind of in a microcosm, Bradley Fletcher strips the ball, and Cary Williams our other starting corner recovers the ball. But I think that kind of speaks to how selfless these guys are in terms of what they want to get accomplished, and if it means that our starting corners are going to play on teams because we had [S Kurt] Coleman and [S] Colt [Anderson] down, so we moved [CB] Roc [Carmichael] inside and kind of moved some guys around.
It's really all hands on deck and whatever we've got to do to win the football game. That's just their approach, and it wasn't something where you've got to go in and say, 'Hey, we would like you guys to do this.' We've got guys volunteering to do stuff like that. It's a real positive.
You had S Earl Wolff and S Patrick Chung rotating in first. Wolff had been out for a while. You just wanted to ease him in? And two, when he didn't play after he tweaked his knee again, was that precautionary or because you guys were ahead at the time?
Because we were ahead, and then obviously he's been out for a while, so we were just going to try to work him back in the lineup, and then we got a lead and we didn't feel like we needed to put him back out there. We'll see how he goes this week.
Has he had any MRIs or anything or extensive medical tests?
Every Monday afternoon I'll meet with the trainers and get you the update in terms of where we are. You're as consistent as I am because that's 15 weeks in a row. Next week we'll get another one in there, okay?
How important have the tight ends been in the run game specifically when they kind of come across the formation and take that as defender? It seems like you guys had a lot of success with that last night?
Yeah, we did a little bit of that last night. I think [TE] James [Casey] really ‑ one of his strengths, I think he really understands blocking schemes and mechanics I think because when he was in Houston he was a fullback, H‑back type guy, and that's kind of how we're using him here.
But I've always said since day one that's one of the reasons we drafted [TE] Zach [Ertz], how integral tight ends are to what we are doing offensively, and we've got three guys that are contributing in a lot of different manners.
We're all not just graded on how many catches or touchdowns they score, it's an integral part of what we do in the run game is our tight ends, and I think we've gotten great production out of those guys.
It seems like you guys didn't use that specific look early in the season. It's been more the last three or four weeks. Has that been a result of how defenses have played you?
Combination of things, and then there's a lot of different things you can do offensively, but when you pare down your game plan, what you want to get accomplished, how does it match up with the depth and type of hand‑off you want to use, how does it match up with the defense that you're using, how quickly do you want the back to hit the hole, do you want to read people, do you want to block people. A lot of different combinations in terms of how we're going to do that.
But the fact that we have guys that are versatile like that I think has kind of been a bonus for us.
At times this season you guys have had trouble putting away opponents and stuff, and then last night it seemed like every time they'd even threaten you guys were able to answer. That had to obviously make you pretty proud?
Yeah, but it doesn't mean anything unless we go out and do it again. I think every week is a different story, and there are some games ‑ in Tampa Bay we did a good job; Green Bay we did a good job; Washington we didn't do such a good job; Arizona we didn't do such a good job; Detroit we did; these guys we did.
But you just can't sit there and pat yourself on the back. You learn from it, what did we do well, what can we continue to do, how does that carry over in terms of a game plan standpoint when we're playing our next opponent, and is there anything that we did last week that's applicable to this week, and then if not what's our new approach if we can get into that situation.
If you look at your corners why do they seem to play better in these match ups that appear more difficult going into the game? Last night, Arizona in particular?
I don't know.
But there's some personnel match‑ups where it doesn't seem as difficult and they struggle, and then in leads, the Bears game, the Cardinals game, the coverage is tighter, they're more physical. Is there any reason for that?
I don't know.
Your offense has [one turnover or less] I think seven straight games. Looking at that stat alone, how important is that?
That's huge. That's the number one thing offensively is do not turn the ball over, and we talk about it as a group, being a great ball security team. And I think SIWs, self‑inflicted wounds, those are things that we can prevent.
We've done a better job as the season has gone along from a penalty standpoint on the offensive side of the ball, we've done a better job of not turning the ball over, and I think that the numbers are off the charts what our plus‑minus is in games we've won compared to the games we lost. We lost by 10 to Kansas City in the Thursday night game; we were minus five; we turned the ball over five times offensively.
You're not going to win when you're continually stopping yourselves, and so we talk about a lot with our guys. Quarterback really values it, understands it. I think we're doing a better job with our backs. But there's still times even when we don't put the ball on the ground that the ball is still shaking away from their body, but we really stress ball security and keeping the ball tight. But that'll be a number one factor again when you go into this game on Sunday night, who's a better team with ball security.
Your screen game has been very effective obviously all season, but last night it was just devastating. Did you think that would be the case against the Bears, and what were you doing so well?
I just think it's a lot of things to go into it. I think number one we have a couple of very, very athletic offensive linemen that can get down the field and block in space. If you're going to choose to play us in man coverage, then if we can pick off the guy that's got the back man‑to‑man and then you also have a back that's really good in open space, so there's a lot of combinations there, so it's kind of picking and choosing when you call them.
The other thing it does, I think it stops the rush a little bit so it negates those guys if you're answer is to try to stop the screen game on the defensive line, then if they're worried about the screen game they're not worried about rushing the quarterback. So it kind of goes hand in hand. You tie your screen game in with your running game with your play-action game and with your drop‑back game, and I think if you're varied enough with that, then you're presenting some problems to the defenses that you're facing.
Is there an art with the quarterback holding on to the ball until the last second before he gets rid of it, then letting blockers get up there?
Yeah, I don't know if it's an art, but I think you're right, there's a lot of details involved in it, and I think we spend a lot of time on them, the fundamentals, the angles of departure, the timing of the offensive line, the back and his timing in terms of what does he go out, the quarterback and his timing is when to hold it, how much time can he buy to let the screen develop, but it's not something like hey let's just run a screen.
There's a lot of moving parts, and that's probably one of the most difficult plays from a timing standpoint between the O‑line and the back and the quarterback to kind of work on, but it's something we spend every day in practice doing.
And with screens, it's the one play with all 11 guys are involved, so does it make sense later in the year when these guys have been together and worked on it more that it's a play that would ‑‑ you'd have the success later in the year like you did yesterday by virtue of being together?
I mean, yes, because of all like that, but I would say every play we run involves all 11 guys. We've been good at screens I think for a while here. You look at the one Brent ran in the Cardinals game down to the 1‑yard line, and I think a couple of our key plays have been ‑ but it's just part of what we do offensively.
I think it's another way to spread the ball around. It's another way to take advantage of some of the things defenses are trying to do. If they're going to try to play you in man, then you've really got to worry about the guys that are ‑ who's covering man‑to‑man and can we get those guys blocked because if you do there's a lot of open space.
How much of the offensive improvement over the last seven games do you attribute to just having the consistency at the quarterback position and being able to develop that rhythm and time and tempo?
There's a lot to that. I think when we did stumble, there was a lot of instability at the quarterback position, and when you have a guy and you can get settled at it, I think it helps because people kind of know where he's going to be and when the ball is going to be released, kind of what his makeup is and where are we going to be as an offense. That's been a huge part of our success over these last couple of games.
In terms of Nick Foles when you look back at the film, talk about his level of play right now.
I think his confidence is a byproduct of his experience, and I think the more looks he sees, the one thing with Nick is that he's a very quick study. I think one of the ways that all of us are a quick study is we need to make mistakes, but you have to be able to learn from your mistakes, and I think that's one thing that Nick does a really, really good job of is he's very analytical of himself.
He's very critical of himself in a really constructive way, how do I improve on this, but I think the first part of it and kind of the whole thing we talk to our team about all the time is we don't make excuses. If we don't do something right you've got to admit to it first before you can correct it because if you continue to make an excuse then you're not acknowledging that you made a mistake in the first place.
I think our guys have a healthy dose of confidence in themselves that understand that you do have to make mistakes to continue to grow and to continue to get outside your comfort level, and I think one thing with Nick is he's very critical of himself but in a constructive way, and I think that shows up in terms of the little teeny details that I think separate from being good and going to great is he's willing to work at that, and that's something that as a coach you really love having a guy that can take that in a constructive manner.
Tony Romo has faced a lot of criticism, particularly for his performances in big games late in the season. How do you view him as a quarterback?
4th and 6, game on the line, scrambles, keeps the ball alive, hits the mark to Murray and they win the game. I'm always on what you did last, and what he did last was pretty special, the way he avoided the rush, kept drives alive, and I think he's a talented a quarterback as there is in this league.
Any time with that position sometimes I think you get probably too much credit and too much blame. But he's one of the really, really, really good quarterbacks we've seen, and I said that the first time we played him. If you're a fan of just quarterback play, he's pretty special. We've got our work cut out for him, but it's a challenge we're excited to go against.
You've talked a lot this year about the importance of the first series and everything. What's the challenge of the play calling? I guess it was 3rd and goal, and how important ‑ I know you had scored a lot of points, but how important was getting seven there instead of three?
I think it's always important when you're starting a game off to get off to a fast start and not settle for anything. I think the longer we're together our players understand that. But a lot of those situations, we knew exactly what we were going to do because of how we repped it and how we drilled it in practice terms of what's our order when we get into the red zone and when we go from the high red zone to the low red zone, kind of what we're going to call, and they're not surprised by anything we call just because we practice it in that manner.
So I think what you're seeing or what you saw yesterday was really just kind of how our week of training went, and I think that's what this group is all about, if we can prepare and train then we've got a shot at Sunday.
Is Foles better reading man‑to‑mans now than he was maybe in that Dallas game?
I hope so. Yeah, I think he is. The numbers will back it up.