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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If Chip Kelly wanted to get on Angelo Cataldi’s good side, he sure knew the right way to do it. “I know that the second most important bowl, besides the Super Bowl, which is my goal, is the Wing Bowl,” Kelly said in his introductory news conference.
Kelly had his second chance to get off on the right foot with Cataldi on Friday morning, when the two spoke for the first time on 94WIP.
“I’m a huge fan! I’m more excited to talk to you Angelo, than anybody in this city,” Kelly said. It’s almost like someone gave him a handbook about Angelo. When the season starts, we can be assured Cataldi will be as tough as ever, but for now, Kelly is pushing all the right buttons.
One common thread that you see in any story involving Chip Kelly, is his obsession with football.
“I’ve always believed it is the quintessential team sport,” Kelly said. “There’s so many different players and you have to have so many different players. Unlike a basketball, where you have one dominant player and kind surround him with four guys, you got a shot. In football, you got a 46-man roster, you need all 46 guys. It’s everybody moving in the right direction, and that part I love. The other thing I’ve always said, you get out of football exactly what you put into it. You can’t fake this sport. It’s a sport that you can have a kid that’s five foot, seven, you can have someone that’s six foot seven, but if they put their time in and they’ve got a little bit of a skill set, they’re going to find something out of it.”
Another well known trait of Kelly’s is that he coaches in a way that challenges tradition. From going for it on fourth down, to going for two points after touchdowns, Kelly’s idea of “risk” is different than most.
“I’m just trying to win, and if that puts a bulls-eye on my back then put a bulls-eye on my back,” Kelly said. “I’ve always operated, and I want our players to operate, from a desire to excel not a fear of failure. If you’re going to be a guy that’s afraid, that’s not how I live my life, that’s not how I’m going to be. I’ve heard that coming to Philly, ‘oh my God Chip their fans have high expectations, that’s a tough place to win. Well, the people in Philly think the same way I think, they want to win and they don’t care. We want to take any challenge on, we want to play anybody. We got an unbelievable division—gotta go play the Giants twice, gotta go play the Cowboys twice, gotta go play the Redskins twice. You got to embrace that. You go to be excited about that and this city is filled with people like that and I’m just happy to be here, but I’m always going to be a guy that’s going to go for it, because you can’t stand there with a bat on your shoulder and take a called third strike. We may miss, but we’re swinging. And we’re going to swing from our ankles.”
Kelly has never coached in the NFL, so putting a coaching staff together is as important a decision as Kelly will make before training camp starts. Is NFL experience a must for a defensive coordinator?
“Yes. We got to have the right blend,” Kelly said. “First off, they got to be great teachers and we got to be on the same page in terms of our vision in how this game is being played. There’s a lot of guys that have great experience and a great wealth of knowledge in this league, and those are the guys certainly in position like coordinators that I am going to bring in here.”
From the University of New Hampshire to the University of Oregon, from mobile to immobile, every quarterback that has played under Kelly has thrived. The one thing that ties a quarterback to success in Kelly’s system isn’t a physical attribute, it’s decision making.
“You have to be a great decision maker,” Kelly said. “Our job as a coaching staff is to then put you in a position where you can do that. Some of the decisions may be all throw-decisions, if that’s where your strengths are. I’m not tied to one type of quarterback. If you have an opportunity to coach somebody Tommy Brady, you tailor your offense to him. If you’ve got a Peyton Manning, you tailor your offense to Peyton Manning. If you’ve got a more athletic guy that has a chance to beat you with his feet, then you tailor your offense to him. The biggest thing in any quarterback has always been having a decision maker and having a quick mind and being able to diagnose things at a very rapid rate and make sure the ball is getting in the hands of our playmakers.”
Kelly didn’t pick a quarterback, but “great decision maker” isn’t usually mentioned in the same sentence with Michael Vick.
The first press conference was the first hurdle. Passing the Cataldi test was the second. The biggest one however, is a Super Bowl, and Kelly knows it. “Oh! Can you imagine that? It would be like 1,000 Wing Bowls, Angelo,” Kelly said.
“My bucket list is a check off there, I finally got to talk to Angelo Cataldi,” Kelly said at the end of the interview. Sounds like an interesting bucket list.