Wake-Up Call: Chip Kelly, NFC East Champ

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Arlington, Texas — Chip Kelly took the podium with a little water in his eyes and a smudge mark on his right cheek — presumably eye black that rubbed off one of the players during the celebration.

It was late in Dallas but the energy from Sunday night’s breath-stealing conclusion was still dancing in the air. The 16-game schedule was complete. And, though it took everything they had, the Eagles were still standing. Year One of the Chip Kelly era, and the Eagles are NFC East champions.

“I told those guys, I thought the first time I met them that it was a special group. I can’t tell you how much they’ve made this transition for me coming from college to the pros, it was those guys,” said Kelly. “They’ve bought in. It’s an awesome feeling when you can work as hard as they’ve worked and to see it pay off, and the results are you’re 10-6 and you’re division champs, it’s a real credit to those guys. They didn’t flinch.”


Looking back, did you honestly expect this to be the end result to your first regular season?

"I expected us to win," said Kelly.

At the owners meetings in Arizona this past March, Jeffrey Lurie cautioned that you can't institute a complete culture change in one offseason, and that he was hopeful that the team would begin reflecting the vision of the head coach "as time goes by." Given the massive overhaul that was underway, expectations were tempered for the 2013 campaign.

"My main concern coming into the season was, can we shift the leadership from an excellent coach in Andy Reid to an excellent coach in Chip Kelly, could you accomplish it all in one season where the entire locker room and the entire organization bought in to a whole new way of doing things," said Lurie following the win. "And that was accomplished a while ago. Now we're just trying to execute and execute really well.

"Outstanding coaching job but I think the main thing is, outstanding leadership job. Outstanding handling of an NFL team, coming in and in every way showing leadership, motivation, class at all times; understanding where the players are coming from; instituting a new offense, a new defense; hiring great people."

LeSean McCoy shot a look to a nearby reporter when he was asked if he had any reservations about Kelly at first, as if to say, "Hell yes." The star running back, who had just set a new single-season rushing record for the Eagles, admitted that he was unsure at first, seeing as Kelly was coming from college. But over time, after hanging around his new coach, he grew more and more excited and eventually bought all in.

It wasn't an easy sell initially for some of the Reid holdovers, and the same was true for some newcomers.

"He's a little different than most coaches are. He goes against the grain, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's great," said Cary Williams. "It was different coming from where I was coming from, doing things the old school way. But it's just proved that you can win and play as well as those guys did -- if not better -- with the way Coach has been taking his approach this season."

This time last year, the Eagles were finishing a dismal 4-12 campaign and Reid was about to be officially dismissed. It looked like a long road ahead back to contention. Lurie, with his players all wearing NFC East Championship apparel around him, was asked to reflect on all that has transpired in the last year.

"When you are down, it gives you an opportunity to change things," said Lurie. "It drove us all to try and make a great decision on who we wanted to lead the way out of that and to bigger things. You have to analyze it and make a bold decision and we wanted to make a bold decision. I didn't have any worries that Chip would not be able to translate to the NFL. That was the least of my concerns.

"It's not easy to change coaches and find a coach you really want to go after. And that's why we were patient and went after Chip."

Since the NFL went to a 16-game season in 1978, 141 teams went 4-12 or worse. Twelve of those teams won their division the next year. That number now stands at 13.

"He always talks about how on December 29, we're going to pick our head up and see where we're at. And [after the game he told us], 'This is a good place to be,' " said Nate Allen. "Division champs."

WHAT YOU MISSED

Kelly said his players "just found a way."

Sheil provides his observations from the Eagles' dramatic 24-22 win over the Cowboys.

The playoff picture is set. How it breaks down for the Birds.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Reuben Frank says the Eagles are team nobody wants to play right now.

This isn’t the team that opened the season 3-5. The Eagles since Week 5 have been as good as almost anybody in the NFL, and there’s no reason not to reset expectations. It’s not a fluke that the Eagles are playing postseason football for the first time since 2010. They’re a good football team right now.

Can they beat the 49ers? Can they beat the Seahawks? Can they beat the Panthers? Can the Eagles play with the NFL’s best?

Yeah.

Why not?

Domo looks at the performance of the run defense.

The Eagles entered the game with the third-best yards-allowed-per-carry average in the league (3.8) and did a good job on DeMarco Murray, holding him to 51 yards on 17 carries, well under his 5.4 average.

Grade: B-plus

COMING UP

Playoff football. We'll speak to Kelly at 1 p.m.

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  • Guest

    This feels as good as this:

    *I stole this from someone else but it made me chuckle*

  • eagle fan dwn south

    Question of the Day: I was just wondering was our offense really off last night or do we need to give kiffin some credit due to his knowledge of the offense from his time at USC because he seems to really scheme only our offense well

    • Media Mike

      I saw a lot of execution errors. I didn’t care for a lot of the blocking from the C-RG-RT side of the line as well. I’m also curious as to how many penalties really should have been called on the Dallas D. Celek being mugged on the crossing route with no call was criminal and a lot of folks have said that the flag Foles was mugging for after the 3rd down sack was a D-hold on whoever was covering Cooper. The fact that the refs made no attempt to even up the calls was horrific.

      • eagle fan dwn south

        I seen more pressure coming from the blindsid but you right on officials I really think we haven’t got any calls since Ari

        • Media Mike

          It’ll be interesting to see the All-22s and assign blame for poor pass protection. I expected a cleaner pocket and bigger lanes for Shady’s runs against that lot.

          • eagle fan dwn south

            They pressured the outside shoulder of both tackles but expect a lot of screens sat night

      • Jason

        Agree with the holding penalty, but strongly disagree with evening up the calls. The score isn’t even why do the penalties have to be even? I’m probably one of the few that really liked how this game was officiated. 3 of the Eagle penalties were off side penalties, have to call those. They called the obvious ones and let both sides play. Way better then the abortion of a game in Seattle.

        • Media Mike

          I just think we had a few penalties committed by Dallas against us that they missed and the 6:1 ratio was woefully out of line. I understand the “let em play” and non-subjective nature of the offsides calls, but 6:1 is not ok.

          • Jason

            Is 3-1? Fair enough, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. I just agree more with your analysis of the execution then of the officials. I’m usually pretty hard on those guys but I think they did about as well as you could in a game like that.

          • Joe from Easton

            I thought the officiating was questionable, but it has been all year in most games I’ve watched. The ONLY no-call that I think absolutely should have been called was on Foles third down scramble. He slid, was clearly down, and had not one but TWO cowboys jump on his back (remember Donnie Mac’s broken ribs a few years back? Happened the same way on a TD run against Tennessee I think). If you watched the GB / Chi game at 4:25 you would’ve saw the same play (McClellan landing on A-Rodg) and the flag came out. If you’re going to protect QB’s then it can’t be subjective. He’s down, you touch him after that, it’s 15. End of story.

          • Joe from Easton

            This call was very egregious especially when you consider the 15 yards handed to Dallas for kick catch interference. Boyk barely grazed his jersey, but rules are rules. Those refs were clearly “homering” it up for that game in my book.

          • Tikkit

            What about Maurice Claibourne’s hit on the ball that sailed over Jason Avant’s head? I’ve never seen a non call where a receiver gets popped and is no where near catching the intended pass. Jason didn’t even try to go up for the ball because it was so over thrown.

          • Joe from Easton

            Yea, that was pure head hunting by Claiborne. He wasn’t playing the ball at all and luckily for Avant, neither was he so he could brace for it a bit. If the regs made half of the calls they should have then this game would’ve been separated by at least a TD. A win is a win though!

          • Tikkit

            Totally agree with that sentiment and I’m not one of those guys that says the refs are out to get anyone. However, when one team commits ONE penalty in an entire game? That’s just weird.

          • Andy124

            And the one penalty was actually a mistake…

          • Joe from Easton

            Yea, especially when they’re one of the most penalized teams in the league. Maybe it was my blind homerism, but it seemed from the get that the refs were going to do what they could to keep it close. I don’t ever believe in conspiracy theories or “fixes”, but missed defensive holding at least twice, missed roughness at least once (probably twice), and a ticky-tack kick catch int penalty was enough to make me feel some kind of way.

          • Andy124

            One the same play, there was a very bad defensive holding on an Eagles receiver that went uncalled. Cooper I think.

          • EuropeanEagle

            When the ref called that 3rd neutral zone infraction, on Fletcher Cox, I’d swear he was smiling… “can’t believe he got them again!”.

        • UncleCarm

          I have to disagree on the offsides penalties. I’ve seen that called all year on the quarterback when they move their hands and head to mimic the snap. Orton got way with it.

    • Joe from Easton

      I think Kiffin schemes well against our blocking schemes. I can’t find any other reason why a bunch of over-achieving (minus DWare of course) D-Lineman manhandled our top 3 offensive line last night. No lanes, no time to throw. Shady and Foles both deserve a ton of credit for making lemonade last night when the O-Line threw a bunch of lemons at them.

      • eagle fan dwn south

        I agree but boy I was nervous early by the pressure they was getting up front

  • Media Mike

    What a great division win. I’d have preferred a more comfortable margin of victory, but here we sit with the ultimate respect of the Saturday night playoff game. Beating a true HOF QB like Drew Brees will be difficult, but the Saints don’t travel well. It wasn’t that long ago they lost to a 7-9 football team on the road in the playoffs.

    Any playoff win we can achieve this season would be a plus, but if we beat the Saints; I’d expect a win vs. a Panther team with an inferior QB. The way we shut down the run as of late would make Scam Newton 1-dimentional to the point where the turnovers would come early and often.

    Nobody is going into Seattle and taking a win however, Wilson is a maestro and that D is psychotic.

    A great season all around, I hope it can keep going for as long as possible.

    • eagle fan dwn south

      Do you believe this could a game where we get up like Chi and play lights out

      • Media Mike

        We might be able to score on a similar level, but the Brees will come to play.

    • Brandon Boykin, OLB

      Stop calling Cam Newton inferior. His team is in the playoffs. He beat Drew Brees. They won the South. He’s broken records in his three seasons in the NFL. He’s not inferior, and he was not found guilty of any scam. Stop showing a bias against QBs of color as you are very prone to do.

      • Media Mike

        I’m also biased against Johnny Football. I view football like Larry Brown views basketball; I like seeing guys play the game the right way. McNabb did and I cheered the guy non-stop as an Eagle and purchased two of his jerseys. The style of football played by Newton, his un-punished auctioning of his college football services, his selfish “I want to be an icon” comment when interviewed by Peter King, and his annoying media hype persona are all reasons to dislike the guy.

        • Andy124

          Don’t you mean, one read and scramble? I don’t care to correct typos (I make so many as it is), but this one seems to be repeated a lot.

        • Bdawkbdawk

          Chris Brown debunks the “one read and run” label Newton had out of college. He’s even better now.

          I don’t think he’s a great quarterback. But you can retire that BS narrative.

          http://smartfootball.com/quarterbacking/did-cam-newton-play-in-a-one-read-passing-offense-at-auburn#sthash.pNp7Q1rV.dpbs

        • Maggie

          In all fairness, the media hype may not be his fault. However, 3 years should be long enough for any big-headed young man, who has been praised and adored all his life for his athletic ability, to get over himself!!

      • Andy124

        I see one out of two posters focussed on skin color here, and it’s not Mike.

  • mrparabolic

    Worst to first baby!

    • nicksaenz1

      Ashy to classy?

  • theycallmerob

    Blogging the Boys is almost a better read than this site today.

    • Joe from Easton

      can you put a link up again? is that on SB nation?

      • theycallmerob
        • Johnny Domino

          My favorite:

          “Really if Romo was in there Dallas wins this game”

          Au contraire, mi amigo. They would just have to find a new way to lose.

          • nicksaenz1

            Love the French and Spanish retort…. They would have lost the same way, though. End of game, untimely pick. Same result, different vessel.

        • nicksaenz1

          Some of them don’t think they have serious issues. I love their collective cluelessness.

          • cliff henny

            mostly towards cap. cracks me up how some come up w/ plans on how to fix cowboys. cowboys will basically be rolling out that same team next yr, not much they can do.

        • Joe from Easton

          Thanks buddy.

        • Max Lightfoot

          Some Cowboys showed heart, but their leadership did not come from Jason Garrett – it came from Jason Witten and others – which shows me that they are doomed to mediocrity next year. On Dallas Radio Network last night, I heard massive criticism of Garrett – lots of Dallas fans detest him.

          • Maggie

            They don’t seem to realize that Garrett was basically gutted by lovely Mr. Jones last year. We think it’s not that important, but the players reaction was probably quite different. Many o them probably lost any respect for him. Too too bad.

    • cliff henny

      hope their internet tears cure hangovers

    • morgan c

      Haha thanks for the tip.

  • Beastmode

    Great win and I’m satisfied with the season after putting the cowboys away.
    Concerned about Foles vs pressure in his face and the sacks last nite-seems like we should have cleaner pocket vs a team with 19 diff D line starters.
    Still a great win and it feels like we are only missing 3 impact players to really kick ass in the playoffs.

    • cliff henny

      on foles, i’m waiting for sheil/tim all-22. do think dallas got way more pressure quickly than we’ve seen, and collinsworth was talking out his ass about foles feeling pressure, seemed like dallas was playing screnes uber-agressively and getting grabby on wrs.

      • Token

        The OL sucked basically. Foles has excellent #’s against the blitz. But that was just a steamroller

        • Brian

          Kiffin has to get some credit for the line play and taking away the check-downs. His experience, from coaching against Oregon, showed last night.

      • theycallmerob

        yes, there were plenty of clips showing the guys covered downfield. Not sure why we didn’t keep abusing them with the TEs

        • cliff henny

          bet kelly wakes up today thinking he needed to call a better game. these are great wins. cowboys did pretty much everything they needed to do, and probably were better team, or at least level of talent on the feild played to it’s higher level.

        • morgan c

          Agree. To counter the success against the screens and the good coverage on our WRs, you have to hit the seam throws. That is where the weakness is. We hit some nice ones over the middle to Ertz and Cooper, but didn’t throw them enough. I wonder if we ran the routes / Foles saw it the same way.

      • Clamdigger

        For whatever reason, Dallas’ defensive front matches up really well against our OL. Foles obviously played a lot better than last time, but the amount of pressure they were getting was unacceptable. Bad, bad performance by the OL in pass protection.

        • Maggie

          Be interested in the All-22 as well. Blocking on the edge is often on the shoulders of the TEs or RBs. Perhaps at least part of the blocking breakdowns could be blamed on those players? Don’t really want to assign blame, just wondering how many assignments were missed by others, rather than the actual Oline.

  • nicksaenz1

    Great win last night. However, I hate late games. Blood pressure didn’t settle until almost 1, and while I planned on missing my normal train to work, I didn’t plan on missing the one after. Not enough coffee.

    • Brian

      I agree 100%. I was sitting in my chair at 1 AM, feeling like I just had a cup of starbucks. Now I need a cup!

    • Maggie

      Sorry to hear it. Here on the West Coast it was early prime time, so had a few hours to resume “normal” life, lol.

      • nicksaenz1

        I shouldn’t even complain much, we have some UK fans who were awake over there for the game, which started at 1:30AM for them.

  • mrparabolic
    • Always Hopeful

      That’s messed up…but funny as all get out!

  • Dave

    You have to give Dallas credit. In the beginning of the game they shut down the two things we were looking to do… Run outside and throw screens. All night Dallas set the edge as well as any team we played this year. It’s part of the reason why our 3 interior line,an looked so bad. Dallas funneled everything inside. You started to see chip get a little more innovative with the designed sweeps like browns TD) to get outside.

    Early, Dallas forced the ball in Foles hand and made him beat them. He did a good job of not hurting himself minus that sack fumble towards the end of the game you could see the Dallas defense was just gassed. It was time to pound it…and chip did exactly that. They couldn’t stop the run because they were tired. I would of ran it on that 3rd and 5 play on the last drive too. But Foles made a good decision staying in bounds.

    This game was won by all phases….offense started good, ended bad. Defense started bad, ended good. And well ST you just need to say Donnie Jones.

    Bring on the battle of west lake high school stars

    • Mr. Magee

      Good analysis / observations Dave, esp w regard to the 3rd and 5 play (was actually more like 3rd and 3 1/2)… I would have run it there as well – short passes were not working all night, and our O line was having more success run blocking than pass blocking. That decision could have been the difference in the game.

  • EaglePete

    Just as I was saying to my buddy, this is not good Ortons been up n down the field all day and just needs to get in FG ran…… INT wahooooooooo !!!!! What a game, and agree with Dave, gotta give Dallas credit. I read earlier in the week a writer saying how their D matches up very well against our screen game and if they slow down the run they could pull off a win. Sometimes a defense just matches up well but agree with some others that Brees may be able to exploit. Heres to hoping his road woes continue and while Im at it Ill shut up, still time to soak in the win. Also, Brad Smith, cmon dude you are in like 5 plays a game max and you side step out of bounds 3 yds early on that return. Run up field and take the hit, its all or nothing game, hated that lack of effort. Im also okay with gettin on Foles a bit in this effort, he was not seeing guys open and holding the ball but on all the replays it looked like guys were covered. Im still amazed at Riley Coopers season sometimes, he just looks slow out there at times. Awesome season, QB and coach, the future is looking bright.

  • Dave

    We’re crashing the party

    https://vimeo.com/82963876

  • theedevilsadvocate

    worse performance was from our o line vs there d-line seems as in both games they couldnt handle a 4 man rush. second worse performance was from our d-line vs there o-line again we got no pressure on the qb he sat back there, rarely hurried and rarely touched. we needed to knock him of his feet and get him rattled and we just didnt do that. kendricks, boykins, and williams were monsters last night and barwin for that “get that ish outta here” basketball center type rejecton on 4th down. only thing i thought though was if he caught that instead of batting it down that could have been a pick 6.close game but the more awesome team won as it should be the rest of the way. fly eagles fly!!!!!!!!!!!