Chip Kelly doesn’t have to worry about Nick Foles saying the wrong thing. He doesn’t have to concern himself with Foles getting too comfortable or not putting the work in.
It’s one of the reasons the Eagles’ head coach and quarterback connect well.
"The great thing about Nick, what you love about him, it's the same thing we preach is that he knows he's never going to arrive," Kelly said. "I think it's a great trait to have. Some guys get to where they want a job, and now they kind of kick their feet up and they go on cruise control and that's not him."
The numbers have been mentioned in the Delaware Valley hundreds of times this offseason: 29 and 2. Foles' touchdown to interception ratio fits better in a video game than in real life. But the third-year signal-caller knows it was only one season, and he's already seen how quickly things can go south in the NFL.
"If I don’t play well, it’s the NFL; you’ll be gone," he said. "The most important thing is this team being successful, and it’s a team sport, but the quarterback really has to be sharp and execute. I know that. That’s why last year’s stats don’t mean anything because there’s a lot of guys that have a good year and then it’s tough the next year and I know that."
Asked whether he's had time to reflect on what he accomplished in 2013, Foles added: "You reflect for like five seconds and you move on. Last season is not going to help me for this year. When I look back at seasons, I always look at the guys I do it with. That’s the truth ever since I was in high school. There’s times where I’ll think back to high school and I’ll talk to high school teammates and those were special memories. I don’t remember the scores, stats of any game, but I remember winning the game with those guys and having that experience.
"And it’s the same here. When I think back about last year, I think of the memories and just the joys when we were at Dallas winning the NFC East. The guys in the locker room, stuff like that. Stats… whatever. I like winning the games. I like having a good time with my teammates."
Foles insists his contract is not something on his mind, and the way he speaks, it seems he truly feels that way. But the reality still is he'll be up to re-negotiate his deal after the 2014 season. If he turns in a performance that's anything close to what we saw in 2013, chances are he'll be in line for a big payday.
However, given that there's still a sense of mystery with how the Eagles want to manage their roster under Kelly, nothing is guaranteed. And Foles seems to understand that.
INNOVATOR? NO THANKS
There's a reason Kelly dislikes being called an innovator. He's always quick to point out that a lot of coaching is just stealing the best ideas from the people who came before you.
On that note, this piece by Greg A. Bedard of The MMQB on Bill Walsh is worth sharing. Bedard got his hands on some old Walsh coaching tapes, and one passage is especially relevant to the current-day Eagles:
"One of our primary responsibilities is your safety on the field, and then your treatment off the field. If anybody suspects that part of it, you certainly should approach me personally because our main responsibility in coaching a game like this is your personal safety. I just want to remind you of that. I think we have the best team physician in football, best orthopedic man and best practice because he has a staff that works with him. One of the best trainers. It’s true from our owners and the rest of the organization—your safety and your well-being is most important. We’ve made one or two mistakes putting people back in the game that were injured, happened once last year, but it rarely gets by. It rarely does. I couldn’t live it with it if in any way I took a chance with any of your well-being."
That's one of the reasons the sports science stuff resonates with players. When they see that the organization is making an extra effort to help them reach their optimal physical condition, they appreciate that and buy in (for the most part).
THE FOUR-DOWN PLAYER
One thing we've learned about Kelly is he prefers players who can do multiple things. You know who else is that way? Kelly's old pal Bill Belichick.
Via Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, here's how Belichick described the Patriots' sixth-round pick, DB Jemea Thomas:
"[He] played a number of different spots at Georgia Tech. He played in the kicking game, played a little safety, played a little nickel, played some corner. Versatile guy, smart guy. Really a four-down type player."
Four-down player. I think that's one we're going to have to steal going forward.