By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Chip Kelly spoke about the disappointment of the Eagles’ 26-24 NFC wildcard loss to the Saints, the progress the team made from last year, and the lessons he learned in his first season as a head coach in the NFL during his postmortem of the 2013 season.
Kelly transformed a team that finished 4-12 last year and a combined 12-20 the previous two years to winning the NFC East and making the playoffs for the first time in three years.
“I wasn’t confident, I had a system and a plan when we were going to go in, but I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be until it was all finished,” Kelly admitted. “I think we play sound, fundamental football. I think that’s what we all preach on a daily basis to our players. It’s still a game of 11-on-11. A lot of things we do schematically match up 11-on-11. It’s a fundamental game and that’s what our coaches teach. I think we brought in a bunch of good teachers that implemented the plan we had in place.”
Kelly specified something, too. It wasn’t Kelly’s offense, it was the Eagles’ offense and it was placed around the personnel the Eagles had this season.
“It’s not my offense, and the offense changed slightly, how we maximize a player’s strengths and how Riley Cooper stepped up and did an outstanding job,” Kelly said. “People didn’t understand how important Jason Avant was.”
As for the offseason, Kelly has his goals set and feels moving forward, with everything in place now, will much smoother. Now with a year experience, a foundation has been set.
Kelly said he won’t reflect back on the playoff loss to the Saints in moving forward and evaluating.
“I think that’s a mistake,” Kelly pointed out. ‘I think you have to look at everything, and that’s the freshest in our mind. We all understand that. It has to be the totality of the season and the one thing we do have is time. We’re not going to rush to any judgments. It’s January 6th today and we have a lot of time. We have a schedule mapped out for he coaches until 19th of June already. We know exactly where we’re going to be every single day. We have to look at the entire season and look at everything.”
Kelly will outline what he wants to general manager Howie Roseman as to players. He also proclaimed that Nick Foles will be the starting quarterback for 2014. Kelly admitted he’s confused why some still question Foles’ ability.
“I think he’s a great decision maker and I think he’s extremely accurate where he puts the ball,” Kelly said about Foles. “I think he’s very young and I think people sometimes forget about that. In the short body of work did I think, he’s did an outstanding job. I don’t have expectations. Our evaluations are based on demonstrated abilities.”
Every day was a learning process for Kelly this season. He said having an open mind helped. He was demanding, of himself, of his players. He also stressed he and his staff can improve on everything.
Asked what excited him about this team’s future, “I think the chemistry of this team,” Kelly said. “How our staff and our players interact, and how receptive these guys are. That was a big unknown for me, not knowing what it was going to be like in the National Football League. It’s an exciting group to be around. There’s an energy around this group of guys. Hopefully, in year one, if this is what we can do, we can learn to build upon this.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.