PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Chip Kelly gave himself a failing grade by scholastic standards.
days after the worst-to-first Philadelphia Eagles were knocked out of
the playoffs by the New Orleans Saints, Kelly reflected on a successful
rookie season in the NFL. He took over a team that won four games and
turned it into the NFC East champion, going 10-7 overall.
Asked to evaluate his performance, Kelly said: "I give myself 58.8
percent. That's winning 10 games out of 17."
That's an "F'' in schools, but close to an "A-plus" in the NFL.
the 26-24 loss to the Saints, the Eagles had quite a year. They
finished 7-1 in the second half and were 9-3 after a 1-3 start. Kelly's
up-tempo offense was dynamic and the defense under coordinator Bill Davis came a long way following a poor first month.
had a spectacular season, giving the Eagles an answer at quarterback —
for now. LeSean McCoy set franchise records for rushing. Wide receivers
DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper had career years. Jason Peters and Evan Mathis were All-Pro linemen.
On defense, linemen Cedric Thornton, Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan impressed. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks showed playmaking skills and linebacker DeMeco Ryans had an
The Eagles had the one of the youngest
rosters in the league, so they should be set up for a bright future.
They've had excellent drafts the last two years and are expected to
improve in Kelly's second year.
There were plenty of skeptics
when the Eagles lured Kelly away from Oregon to replace Andy Reid. Some
of the old-schoolers thought a college coach with a unique style
wouldn't adapt well to the NFL.
Kelly paid zero attention to the critics.
think the reception I got especially from the coaches in the league was
awesome," he said. "Tom Coughlin, guys like that that I have great
respect for that have been around the league for a long time, they were
great with me. I'm really appreciative to the other coaches in this
league, to get a chance to talk to them before the game and some of
their thoughts and insights. I know it's an honor to coach in this
league. It's very difficult to get one of these jobs, and I have great
respect for the guys."
Players bought into Kelly's way right
from the start. He implemented fresh ideas, and a new system for doing
everything. Diets, sleeping habits, practice structure and much more
changed. It worked, and it was only the beginning.
"We have a
bunch of guys that were on the same page in terms of what they want to
get accomplished, and I always felt our job as a coaching staff is to
create an environment where players have an opportunity to be
successful and then get out of their way and let them go do it," Kelly
said. "But you also have to have a bunch of willing guys that want to
do that. It was a bunch of guys that really wanted to be coached and
that really wanted to be better and were very receptive to everything
that we were doing as a staff. They also knew that we would listen to
Kelly wouldn't address specific offseason needs, though
quarterback isn't one of them. Foles is the starter going into next
year and Kelly praised Matt Barkley, who should be the No. 3.
said he "loves" Michael Vick, who lost his starting job after he was
injured. Vick obviously wants an opportunity to start somewhere, but
would be open to returning if he doesn't get that chance.
guy is awesome," Kelly said about Vick. "Unfortunately, he got hurt,
and that gave an opportunity to another guy, and I think sometimes for
a lot of people, you put yourself in those shoes, that's hard to wrap
your arms around because it's not like Michael was wrong and that
Michael got benched. It was just a unique situation, and I think how he
handled it, how he helped Nick through the process, it just tells you
the type of person he is and the type of teammate he is, and I think
that didn't go unnoticed by me, and I appreciate everything he did my
first year here."
Besides Vick, the Eagles have nine other
players who will be free agents. Cooper heads that list along with
wideout Jeremy Maclin, who will be returning from ACL surgery. Thornton
will be a restricted free agent, but is a key part of the defensive
line and should return.
Jackson has a contract, a five-year,
$48.2 million deal that he signed two years ago. But he said Monday he
wants to restructure it.
The Eagles have plenty of time now to work those things out.
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