Kelly’s Message: December Matters

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia EaglesAfter the last time the Eagles played at Lincoln Financial Field, the direction of the 2013 season was very much in question.

Chip Kelly’s squad had just lost back-to-back games to the Cowboys and Giants. The offense was sputtering. The QB situation was a mess. And the Eagles had extended their home losing streak to 10.

“I wasn’t worried,” Kelly said after the team’s 24-16 win over the Redskins. “But I knew that was gonna be a big test for us and we knew what we had to do. We had to stick together as a group, and the only people that really had confidence in us was us, and rightly so because we weren’t playing very well.

“But I think together as a group, we’ve gotten better. And we’re growing. We’re new to them. They’re new to us. As long as we continue to learn what they can do and put them in positions to make plays and just get out of the way and watch them go play, it’s interesting to watch these guys on a weekly basis continue to get better. So it’s encouraging as we head into the bye week.”

The Eagles have now won three in a row for the first time all season. The quarterback situation has stabilized. The home losing streak is over. And for a week at least, Philadelphia has a first-place football team going into the bye.

The victory lost some style points near the end. The offense was on a roll in the first half, but after a third-quarter touchdown, the Eagles failed to score on their final five offensive possessions.

“We had that first drive and I thought we did an outstanding job,” Kelly said. “It was a 13-play deal for a touchdown and then just really couldn’t get it going after that. They did a nice job forcing us into a couple things, couldn’t convert on a fourth down. But I’ll give them credit. They made some plays. They got off of blocks.

“Sometimes we had some looks and some one-on-one looks where it looked like we were gonna gain more than we did. But it’s a tough game and fortunately we got out of here with a victory. I thought they did a good job from the middle of the third quarter of defending us.”

Despite the offensive struggles down the stretch, the Eagles have averaged 33.3 points per game in their last three. And their average margin of victory during that stretch has been 17 points.

Kelly spelled out the difference offensively in simple terms.

“The biggest thing I think we’re doing offensively is we’re not turning the ball over,” he said. “We’re not putting ourselves in bad situations. And we’re continuing to win that turnover battle. When you’re plus in the turnover battle, if our defense can continue to create them like they are, we can continue to be smart and not spit the ball out on our side… then you’ve got a shot.”

With Nick Foles running the show, the offense has turned it over just once in the last three games. That’s compared to 14 turnovers in the first eight.

Defensively, the Eagles shut the Redskins out for three quarters before things nearly fell apart completely in the fourth. But Kelly didn’t seem all that bothered by the close call at the end.

“To be a good football team, you can’t flinch, and I don’t think these guys did,” he said. “Obviously, the Redskins are extremely talented, and they’ve got some weapons on the offensive side of the ball. To play as well as we played defensively for the entire game, to watch them finish it off that way was really encouraging. In this game, crap’s gonna hit the fan. It’s just how you react to it, and I thought our guys did a great job from that standpoint.”

The Eagles will be at the NovaCare Complex on Monday and Tuesday. They’ll then take time off Wednesday to re-charge before coming back next week.

“It’s all for naught if we don’t continue to build from here,” Kelly said. “And I think they understand that too. There’s still a lot of football to be left. …We’ve got five games in December, but we’ve put ourselves in a situation where those five games in December are meaningful. And then we’ll do the same exact thing I talk about all the time. I said it to them again in the locker room. We’re gonna pick our heads up on Dec. 29 and figure out where we are.”

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  • hawaiieaglesfan

    If Foles keep winning in December Im calling him Saint Nick. All I want for Christmas is a playoff berth!!! No snowballs please!!!!

    • dislikedisqus

      You can shout “Saint Nick!” To him when he comes to HI for the Pro Bowl.

      • Richard Colton

        He won’t be allowed to play in the probowl if…

        • levdog

          Call him Tricky Nicky coined by Merril Reese, on the sneaky yardage he gained today.

          • GEAGLE

            It’s the RAINMAKER!! Get with the program. Drought is over!!

          • bentheimmigrant

            They showed a guy in a Foles jersey during the game… I assume that was you?

    • Jonathan R. Henry

      I still like Nickfolean Dynamite.

  • nicksaenz1

    Sheil, can we get an asterisk next to the 14 turnovers. 6 of them are on Mark Barkley, who played in what, 4 or 5 quarters? The guys who have been playing meaningful time, who aren’t on scout team, had 8 in those first 8 games. It almost seems unfair to sully the quality work of our starters and 2nd teamers.

    • Maggie

      What do the players and coaches say, “We win as a team and we lose as a team”? No publicly calling out teammates, And neither should we outsiders, who have no idea what goes on within the team.

      • Adam

        Buzz kill

        • Richard Colton

          I think she’s trying to say that “outsiders” i.e. Canadians, shouldn’t be commenting on the team. you going to stand for that Adam?

      • nicksaenz1

        We don’t know what goes on within the team, but we all see what goes on in the game. And while we win and lose as a team, 46 active players didn’t throw 4 picks and fumble twice. A 3rd string player named Barkley did, whether you like it or not.

      • theycallmerob

        ? What goes on within? This isn’t 50 shades of locker room, what’s wrong with you

  • Guest

    Even with the 4th quarter, what the defense did today was impressive. Holding RG3 and co. to 16 points is nothing to balk at. What makes it even more impressive is that they did it down 3 starters. Our other starters showed up today in a big way (I’m looking at Boykin, Cole, Barwin, Cox and Logan).

    The backups played very well. You could look at the two scoring plays and attribute them to the backups if you tried hard enough (Roc coverage and Chung taking out Cole and missing tackle) but they had some good plays as well. Goode played well and Roc had some good plays to go with bad ones as well but he’s not a complete liability.

    Cox is just a beast. RG3 was never comfortable for most of the game and the interior DL had a big hand in making that happen. They got a lot of push up the middle and were the cause of a few of those sacks.

    Interesting play calling by Washington. They kept running the ball even down almost all of the game, and by quite a bit. RG3 had success near the end of the game throwing the ball. Did they just feel they couldn’t get good enough protection to pass early? Were they setting up the pass for 3 quarters? Something to prove? Possibilities are endless.

    Morris ran the ball well but I feel like after the Eagles got up early the starting shooting the gaps more to get some pass rush at the cost of the run. Can’t say for certain though I’d have to rewatch the game. They gave up rushing yards but kept RG3 on his toes.

    Big win for many reasons. The streak at home, and divisional win that moved us into sole possession of first. It’s been a while since we went into the bye with a little optimism. And we get some players back too.

    First year of the Chip era is fun to watch if nothing else.

    • JofreyRice

      Cedric Thornton’s emergence blows my mind. He literally used the Guard to tackle Alfred Morris on the one play–just shoved him backwards and knocked Morris down. I don’t really understand the coaches saying he’s the best passrusher, but he’s so disruptive on running plays; jumps out. Fantastic find as a UDFA.

      I also saw more from Logan in just this game, than we ever saw out of Sop.

      Things are looking up at the moment.

      • GEAGLE

        Surprise surprise…Joeffy took a break from murdering puppies to enjoy the win..Welcome on board,

  • dislikedisqus

    Any word yet on why Foles kept making throwing motions with his right arm in the third quarter? Was it injured?

    • BQNinja

      Evidently he hurt it a little bit and was trying to warm it up on the sidelines. Might explain the highly conservative play calling from that point on.

    • JofreyRice

      In the 2nd quarter, he got blindsided in the pocket by Orakpo, just after releasing the ball. Peters had him blocked on the play initially, but Foles avoided a rusher in front of him, and Peters couldn’t hold Orakpo off any longer. It looked like Foles landed on his throwing shoulder. It was right before the play where McCoy taunted Merewhether. Foles kept rolling the and moving the shoulder and arm in between plays from that point onward. He made some throws after that, so I don’t think it could have been too major. The TV coverage didn’t catch it, or mention it, from what I saw. Maybe it tightened up over halftime, and as the game went on?

      Something to monitor, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up on the injury report.

      • pjcostello

        Another excellent example of how utterly useless TV commentors are — I was wondering what was wrong with his shoulder, and it was as though these dunderheads never even noticed at all.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Said he tweaked his shoulder & based on a previous injury, if he didn’t keep it loose it would tighten up on him.

  • #7

    Eagles doing work. Keep proving me right

    • Richard Colton

      this is going on the wall. easily your best comment of the year.

      • Pennguino

        hahaha…too funny. Nice call!

      • #7

        Didn’t want them to tank like you.

  • Adam

    Foles has the lowest INT percentage in NFL history (300 pass min.) at 1.24%. Rodgers is 2nd at 1.7%.

  • BlindChow

    “Sometimes we had some looks and some one-on-one looks where it looked like we were gonna gain more than we did.” — Chip Kelly, before calling run plays 75% of the time at the end of the game

    “We saw some things we thought we could exploit.” — Andy Reid, before calling pass plays 75% of the the time at the end of the game

    • Andy124

      I don’t know if I should upvote this for the astute observation, or downvote it because it made my eyes bleed a little.