Eagles Wake-Up Call: How Kelly’s Dealing With Losing
At some point in recent years, the Monday coach’s press conference has became an event among Eagles faithful.
Fans have instant reactions on Sunday following a win or a loss. They discuss the game with friends, family or co-workers the next morning. And nowadays, many tune in Monday afternoon to hear what the coach has to say. They listen on the radio or online. They watch on the team’s Web site. They can check out a recorded copy later in the day if necessary.
As someone who’s attended every one of these sessions during the Chip Kelly era, I can tell you that the head coach’s demeanor after losses is often different than one might expect. When the Eagles have come up short on Sunday, Kelly is usually at his most accommodating the day after. He’ll explain the miscues in great detail. He’ll give the opponents credit. He’ll sometimes be self-deprecating.
After wins, it’s usually different. Kelly has a bit more of an edge. It’s like he doesn’t want anyone in the building to get too comfortable. It’s always about getting ready for the next game.
This week’s session, however, didn’t follow the same pattern (granted, it was after a Saturday game). Kelly was bombarded with questions about how such a promising season could essentially be over before Christmas. And it seemed clear that the collapse has taken a toll on him.
“Every ending is sudden and disappointing unless you win the championship,” he said. “I lost the national championship on a field goal at the end of the game. That was sudden. That was really disappointing. I mean, any time you don’t get to the ultimate goal, that’s the way you feel, whether you were close or far or whatever. I think it’s always that way.
“And in this league, there’s going to be one happy team when this whole season’s over. I don’t know who it’s going to be. Last year it was Seattle. It’s the same exact thing. It’s no different than that gut-wrenching feeling that you had when you walked off the field when you played the New Orleans Saints and we lost the playoff game to them.”
In four years at Oregon, Kelly’s teams never lost back-to-back games, never mind three in a row with so much on the line.
His reaction is always to put his head down, go to work and focus on the next game. But a week from now, there won’t be a next game. And he’ll be left with an offseason to figure out where things went wrong and determine his next moves going into Year 3.
“My thoughts are it’s gut‑wrenching,” Kelly continued. “That’s what I was just trying to explain. Whether we lose in the playoff game or whether we lost in this fashion, they’re both gut‑wrenching situations. We’re extremely disappointed. We’re frustrated. We understand that. But we still have to play one more football game.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
What they’re saying: After three consecutive losses, the national media are suddenly questioning Kelly.
With one game remaining, a testy Kelly said he’ll play his usual starters and try to win the game against the Giants.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz offers some thoughts on Kelly:
I believe Chip Kelly is a special coach. I think he will do great things in Philly, but I have no way of knowing if that will involve winning the big one. I sure hope it does. Kelly built Oregon into an elite program. So far he’s 19-11 in the NFL. Very few guys with no NFL background can step in and win right away. It takes time to learn the league and adjust to dealing with men and not college kids.
We also have to factor in that Kelly has not had stability at the QB position. Pete Carroll was 14-18 in Seattle before the arrival of Russell Wilson. Kelly had 2 QBs with at least 6 starts in each of the last 2 seasons. That makes life tough on a coach. Kelly now has some crucial decisions to make as he goes forward. Is Nick Foles the guy? Does he aggressively go after a rookie in the draft? Does he trade for a flawed veteran with some success in his background? These aren’t great options.
The Eagles have no one to blame but themselves for the way the season has ended, writes John Gonzalez of CSN Philly:
The Eagles have no one to blame but themselves. They seemed happy to do so after falling to Washington, and there was plenty of blame to spread around. Mark Sanchez deserved some for committing another critical turnover at another inopportune moment. Bradley Fletcher deserved some for getting victimized once again. Cody Parkey, who had been excellent all season, deserved some for missing two field goals at the worst possible time. Even Vinny Curry said to blame him. Put them all on the list, and add Kelly for presiding over the botched operation.
The Washington game was the worst of Kelly’s tenure, but the overarching disappointment the Eagles and their fans probably feel at the moment is owed to more than just one bad outing. This was building. The problems they had at the beginning of the season, the ones they initially overcame to mount what seemed like a solid record, doomed them in the end.
We’ll talk to Pat Shurmur, Billy Davis and the players.