By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Chip Kelly received an impromptu visit from Santa Claus, an early Christmas wish to beat the Dallas Cowboys and the Eagles coach also spoke about the upcoming challenge of facing Tony Romo this Sunday for the NFC East title during his day-after press conference at the NovaCare Complex.
Kelly jokingly said he’d like to forget the first Eagles game against Dallas, the Oct. 20 debacle at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles lost 17-3. It was a game in which Nick Foles was terrible, going 11 for 29 for 80 yards and Eagles were held to 278 yards and 3.7 yards a play.
On Sunday night, the Cowboys will be facing a far different Foles and a far different team than the one they faced two months ago.
Since then, the Eagles have won six of their last eight, including five straight. Foles has emerged as one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL, leading the league in quarterback rating, and LeSean McCoy, who was held to 55 yards on 18 carries is the NFL’s leading rusher.
“We’re more experience; we’ve been together longer and we have a better understanding as a coaching staff of our players and what they can do putting those guys in position to make plays,” Kelly said. “I think everybody is a byproduct of their experiences. I think the reps that all of those guys have had, I think that was Nick’s second or third game. He’s gotten a lot more reps and he’s more comfortable in understanding the situation. The experience factor is a lot different when we played them earlier in the season.”
Kelly stressed the Eagles have dwelled on the first Dallas game. He’s kept with his mantra of the one-game season.
The Cowboys, in many respects, are a changed team, too. Remember, Dallas was without All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware and top rusher DeMarco Murray—and they still had their way with the Eagles on Oct. 20. Dallas won with the likes of Joseph Randall, Cole Beasley, George Selvie and Terrance Williams.
“I’ll give Dallas credit,” Kelly said. “They give up a 23-point lead to Green Bay the week before and the sky is falling, and then they come back and beat Washington. This league will test you from the standpoint of it’s not what you do last week. It’s what you do this week and how you prepare. When we get back to work tomorrow, we better understand that.”
Kelly, again, disposes of the talk that Romo is one late-fourth quarter interception in December waiting to happen. The Romo that Kelly views is what he did last—completing a 10-yard rope to Murray that beat Washington with 1:08 to play.
“Fourth-and-six, game on the line, scrambles, keeps the ball alive, hits DeMarco Murray and they win the game,” Kelly said. “I’m always on what you did last. And what he did last was pretty special. The way he avoided the rush, kept drives alive. I think he’s as talented a quarterback as there is in this league. At any time at that position, you get way too much credit and too much blame. But he’s one of the really, really, really good quarterbacks we’ve seen. And I said that the first time we played them. If you’re a fan of quarterback play, he’s pretty special. We have our work cut out for him, but it’s a challenge we’re excited to go against.”