Chip Kelly On Final-Drive Missteps: ‘That’s On Me’

Chip Kelly conceded during his day-after press conference that, in hindsight,  he would have handled a couple things differently down the stretch Sunday against the Chargers.

“I’ve made mistakes, I think we’ve all made mistakes,” he said. “No one coaches a perfect game, no one plays a perfect game, but you have to learn from those mistakes and hope they don’t happen again.”

Trailing 30-27, the Eagles started their final drive from their own 28-yard line with 3:05 on the clock. Michael Vick swiftly moved the offense into red zone thanks to an 11-yard scramble and three quick-strike completions, including a 25-yarder to DeSean Jackson that set the Eagles up at the Chargers’ 14-yard line with around two-and-a-half minutes remaining.

They could have waited for the two-minute warning, but instead hurried to the line and got a play off (the broadcast showed that there was 22 seconds left on the play clock.) The result was an incompletion to Brent Celek, stopping the clock at 2:03. Vick and Celek were both hurt on the play.

The referee told Vick, who was slow to his feet, that he had to sit out the next play after being brought down hard by Jarius Wynn. By rule, Kelly could have prevented Vick from missing a play by calling timeout,  though the coach didn’t know that at the time.

“That’s on me. I didn’t think we could,” said Kelly.

If you had known that Vick could stay in by calling timeout, would you have used one?

“Yeah,” he replied.

Instead Nick Foles came in and threw an incompletion in the direction of Jackson, bringing the clock to 1:59. Vick re-entered the game on the next play. His pass intended for Jason Avant fell incomplete. The Eagles had to settle for an Alex Henery field goal, which tied the game. There was still 1:51 on the clock when they handed possession over to the Chargers, allowing Philip Rivers to work his team into position for the eventual game-winning field goal.

“When you look at it in hindsight we didn’t score, we kicked a field goal so it was tied. We wanted to score a touchdown to go up four and make them drive the entire field at that point in time,” said Kelly. “Obviously when you look back at it, we probably should have ran the clock down.

“It’s not difficult at all, that was just my decision and my decision totally. I thought we were going to score so I called a play I thought we were going to score on.”

Kelly has made it clear that he puts little stock in the time of possession statistic.

“Time of possession is how much time can the other team waste,” Kelly said back in August. “Most games we lose the time of possession, but it’s how many snaps do you face?”

The Chargers held the advantage in both categories: they ran 79 plays to Philly’s 58, and held the ball for 40:17 compared to 19:43 for the Eagles.

Ball control was part of San Diego’s plan coming in.

“I think it was important,” said head coach Mike McCoy, “that was one of the keys to the game. You have to play complementary football, and when you play a team like that, that plays with the tempo they do…whether it’s offense or on special teams, getting a turnover, doing something to create a possession for us…whatever plays it takes to keep the defense off the field, and I think they did a good job of that.”

Kelly was asked if he could have focused more on ball control to help his defense out.

“Could we have? Sure, but we wouldn’t have scored a lot of points,” he said. “So you’re in a Catch-22. We were behind so so you have to try and score to get back in the game. You can play that game and say, ‘Hey let’s work the clock a little bit,’ but if you start handcuffing our offense then we may not have scored enough points to make it a tie ballgame.”

Fletcher Cleared

Bradley Fletcher passed his concussion testing and returned to the practice field on Monday. The starting corner had to sit out against the Chargers after sustaining the head injury in the Washington game. Brandon Boykin got the nod in his absence but moved inside when the Eagles went into their nickel package. Brandon Hughes played on the outside in those situations.

Fletcher is expected to play Thursday against the Chiefs. Hughes missed practice with a hamstring injury.

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