The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Bears
1. On a random Thursday afternoon, this is what the gathering looks like at Cary Williams’ locker:
The Eagles’ cornerback has become a media favorite. He has something to say on pretty much every topic and is generous with his time. That’s great for reporters, but not-so-great for the guys who have lockers next to him: James Casey and Matt Tobin.
The tight end and offensive tackle often find reporters blocking their lockers after practice.
“Sometimes I gotta push guys out of the way, or sometimes I just gotta wait, go eat something and come back,” Casey said with a laugh. “It’s amazing because there will be a huge group of reporters around him, and I can’t even get to my locker. I’ll go do whatever. I’ll come back and the big group will be gone, but there will be two other people talking to him. He’s really nice I guess with the media because he just keeps talking to them.”
2. Kelly talked a lot last week about the mortar kicks working for the Eagles, but the squib kicks not so much. I asked Alex Henery to explain the difference.
“It’s just like you’re a golfer, you’re hitting a chip shot into the green,” said Henery. “You’re just kind of hitting it up high in the air, putting it where you want. You kind of select your placement a little better that way. So that’s what a mortar kick is.”
If the mortar kicks were working well against the Vikings, why did the Eagles then switch to the squibs?
“We were just trying to mix it up because when you start to do the same things over again, then they’ll move their alignments,” Henery explained. “And with a mortar, they can hit a quick-hitter. You can kind of load up on one side, and then it wouldn’t be good. So you’ve gotta keep mixing it up and keep ‘em guessing so they can’t get their guy the ball that they want.”
With Devin Hester coming to town and the Eagles potentially without two core special-teamers in Colt Anderson and Kurt Coleman, it’s possible that Kelly employs the same strategy this week.
3. Now that he’s 14 weeks in, Kelly was asked what the biggest difference has been between college and the NFL.
“I think the difference between the college and the pros is that every single week is a challenge,” he said. “You can look at some of the games you’ve played in college and you may hype them up that way, but in the back of your mind, you know what the outcome of the game will be before it’s played because there is such a big discrepancy. In this league, there is no discrepancy. You’ve got to come to play every week. The team that executes the best usually ends up the team that’s on top.”
While the going-back-to-college rumors are likely never going away, the competitiveness is something Kelly seems to enjoy at the NFL level.
“I think anybody that’s a true competitor likes that,” he said. “I think that’s what this deal is all about. You don’t want anything handed to you. You want the opportunity to go out and compete each day. That is the one thing to me that was attractive about the NFL. You play more games. You have more chances to compete. It’s always about the competition. If you ask any coach, the fun part’s the games. The fact that you get more games and the quality of the competition every single week is just going to test you. I think we all enjoy that.”
4. Note to reporters: Don’t use the term “control your own destiny” when talking to Kelly. A reporter tried that Thursday and was quickly corrected.
“You know you can’t control destiny?” Kelly said. “Destiny is a predetermined set of events. Therefore if it’s predetermined, you can’t control it.”
That’s Professor Kelly, not Coach Kelly.
5. Kelly will be going up against one of his former players this week: Bears rookie Kyle Long. Long started his college career at Florida State as a pitcher, but was forced to leave school because of academic issues. He spent a night in jail after getting a DUI and had to find some way to get his life back on track. Long enrolled at Saddleback Junior College, started playing football and eventually got a shot from Kelly to transfer to Oregon.
“I think Kyle, when you met him and you understood what he had been through and he explained his story to you, I think he had learned a very, very valuable lesson,” Kelly said. “I think he was on the road to working his way out of that. That is what impressed me with Kyle as a person. That is why I admire Kyle in terms of what he’s been able to accomplish since then.
“He made a mistake. He admitted his mistake, and he’s done everything in his life to correct that mistake. He should be commended for that. A lot of people in his situation could have [said], ‘Woe is me, and I’ve been dealt a really tough set of cards.’ I think he owned up to everything that he did, and I’m really proud of him.”