Chip Kelly “Proud” Of Eagles After Upset Win
After a shocking upset few outside of the NovaCare Complex saw coming, Chip Kelly seemed even-keel.
He told reporters that he understood the gravity of beating Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in Foxborough, where they hardly ever lose.
But he also reiterated the way his team played Sunday is how he expects them to play every week because, as he said in recent weeks, he remains steadfast in his belief that the Eagles are a good football team.
“I believe in them, they’re a really good team, and I thought they played together as a group,” Kelly said.
“I think sometimes they don’t see in them what I see in them, and I know we have a good football team. I think they showed it today, and I think they’ve shown it at other times during the season. The last two weeks, we didn’t show it, and that’s what was disappointing for them.
“But we got contributions. I thought defensively, the pressure we got on the quarterback was instrumental today. But when you have a blocked kick for a touchdown, you have an interception returned for a touchdown, and a punt return for a touchdown, it takes those things to win in this stadium, against that coach and that quarterback.”
It’s hard not to compliment your own team when it scores 35 points, 21 of which come on impressive special teams and defensive scores.
The first special teams touchdown came at the end of the first half, when the Eagles blew up a New England punt attempt with 15 seconds remaining. Chris Maragos blocked the punt and Najee Goode returned it for a game-tying touchdown, knotting the score at 14 points apiece.
After a 2014 season that saw the Eagles decimate opposing punting units, Maragos’ block was a welcome return to form for special teams coach Dave Fipp‘s crew.
“Fipp always has a couple of schemes in terms of going in there and being able to get them,” Kelly said. “The situation in the half dictated it. Them punting to us and us catching it, we’re probably not going to get anything generated out of that — I think there was 15 seconds on the clock. We’re probably going to go after the punter in that situation, and that was the rush that we had practiced this week.”
He was also extremely happy with Malcolm Jenkins, who turned a threatening Patriots possession into a 99-yard interception returned for a touchdown. Jenkins, often chided for his inability to hold on to interceptions, made this one count.
“I thought it was a big, big job by [Jenkins]. That interception was a real back-breaker,” Kelly said. “When you talk about turning good into great, you stop a team when they’re in the red zone from scoring, I think anybody would’ve been happy with just the interception. ‘Hey, let’s turn it over. They were driving, we got a stop there.’
“But to be able to take it the distance and return it, I was really happy for him. He’s worked a lot. I know sometimes he gets maligned, but we worked really hard on catching the football, and he did a great job, eyes to the tuck like we talk about all the time. To convert that into a score was a really big turning point in the game, I thought.”
And to cap off the trio of unusual, important scores, Kelly said he was impressed with the way Darren Sproles stepped up when handed the chance to have a big impact on Sunday’s game.
“I thought Darren played really well in all phases, and I think it’s something you continue to see out of him,” Kelly said. “We see it every day in training. It’s on us as a staff, we need to continue to get Darren involved in what we’re doing, because he tilts the field a little bit, when now, all of a sudden, we hadn’t used him that much, so people weren’t doubling him.
“But then when he was in there, he started to draw some extra attention and open some other guys up.”
From Fipp’s schemes, to Jenkins’ triumph, to Sproles’ ability to capitalize on his chances, Kelly said he was simply proud of the way his team played. He reminded reporters that he’s not one to dwell on wins for much longer than the hour after the game, but this one — against a powerful opponent, and a head coach he has revered for years — likely felt good for the Eagles’ head coach.
“I guess we always have the mindset of, ‘We won, now what’s the next game?'” Kelly said. “You spend too much time patting yourself on the back — we’re going to play a really good Buffalo team coming in here, and I think they won today. So there’s always the next challenge and the next step.
“But it is — I think I’m really proud of the way our players played today, and I think that’s the most important thing I took away from today.”
Here are some more highlights from Kelly’s press conference.
— On the decision to infuse Kenjon Barner and Sproles into the run game so heavily.
“We just thought we were going to use all three today, and needed all three,” Kelly said. “But when you’ve got [Jamie] Collins, and [Rob] Ninkovich, and guys like that, it’s as big a linebacker crew as you’re going to face, so sometimes those smaller, quicker guys can cause some problems in the matchup.”
— On the difference in his defense this week compared to the last two weeks, when they allowed a total of 90 points in two games.
“I think we generated pressure, and really, those guys up front did a really good job. I think we had four sacks; I don’t know how many times or hurries or hits on [Brady], but that’s what you have to do, because he’s so good,” Kelly said.
“There were a couple of times he shook us off and kept drives alive, because he’s so good at running, and made some big plays there. But I thought the effort that our guys played with up front was really, really good, and that’s what we needed out of those guys.”
— On the play of Sam Bradford, who returned to action after missing two games to injuries. Bradford hasn’t turned the ball over since the Eagles’ loss to Carolina before the bye week.
“[Bradford]’s grown every game, and that’s why it was so unfortunate — I think his passer rating was 118.0 when he went down in the Miami game, then you lose him for two games,” Kelly said.
“I think he’s very smart with the football. We have great faith and great trust in him. I think he continues to grow because we’re more around each other; he’s got eight, nine games underneath his belt.
“I think you’ve seen improvement out of him, and in this league, turnovers are paramount. I think that’s a big part of it, when you’ve got a quarterback that’s not going to go out and turn the ball over to the other team.”
— Kelly was asked about his decision to throw the ball on third down in the Patriots’ territory, with just over two minutes to play. Sam Bradford completed the pass to Riley Cooper for 14 yards, a gutsy play call considering an incomplete pass would have stopped the clock.
“We felt like we needed a first down,” Kelly said. “We could’ve run it, and then you’ve got the appropriate time and where we are numbers-wise, and we’re talking about all that — we have charts — we know what’s there.
“But part of it is, we felt like we needed a first down, and that was our best option on that play. We had run the naked play — actually, tried to throw on first down. Tried to run the naked play, and I thought Sam made a really good decision. It may have been close, trying to throw it, but then if it’s not there, keep the clock running.
“When you have a smart quarterback, you trust that he can do that. We ran on second down, obviously got the clock moving a little bit, and then on third down, our concept was just, we’ve got to get a first down here. I’ve got great faith and trust in Sam, and I know he’s got great faith and trust in his receivers.”
— On the pooch-punt onside kick that the Patriots decided to attempt with a 14-0 lead. After the Eagles recovered the unusual kick, they scored 35 unanswered points.
“I wouldn’t say that was the turning point, but I think that was another huge play by our special teams,” Kelly said. “You know, when you play this team, that they’re going to tax you in a lot of different ways. They ran the reverse pass to Brady, they did [the kick], but I thought it was a great play by [Seyi Ajirotutu], a good reaction by him. I think Fipp did a really good job with the special teams, preparing them for a lot of the different things they do on special teams. They challenge you from a special teams standpoint.”
— On how he felt Eric Rowe did in his first start after Nolan Carroll’s season-ending injury.
“I thought Eric, in his first time of extended play, he did a really nice job,” Kelly said. “They went after him, and we knew they were going to go after him, but I thought he battled and competed.
“They took the long bomb on him, there were a lot of things they tried on him, they tried a couple of comebacks on him, running people off him, but for the most part I think Eric did a really nice job and it’s good to see him start to develop that confidence, because we, as a staff, have a ton of confidence in Eric to play.”