By Joseph Santoliquito
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — Chip Kelly was honored by the prestigious Maxwell Club at its 77th annual gala Friday night at Revel Casino Hotel to receive Greasy Neale Award as the NFL Coach of the Year. But to Kelly, individual awards mean little, because it’s the team that matters.
And it’s the Eagles’ changing team that Kelly addressed to a host of reporters who were there Friday night to speak to the Eagles coach.
Kelly spoke about the signing of safety Malcolm Jenkins and what their additions will mean to the Eagles.
Asked if price had anything to do with the Eagles signing Jenkins, at $16.25 million over three years, instead of $54-million over six years for Jairus Byrd, Kelly said, “I don’t think price tag has ever been an issue, especially with Mr. Lurie [owner Jeffrey Lurie]. That’s not how we talk about things,” Kelly said. “It’s who fits in terms of what we do on either side of the ball and where do they fit special teams-wise. It’s just kind of how we looked at them.”
Kelly did say he likes Jenkins’ versatility, which apparently was a big reason why the Eagles opted for Jenkins.
“Malcolm got drafted as a corner, so he’s got corner skills, he’s got cover skills,” Kelly said. “When you look at some guys, they’re just free safeties. And you look at some guys and they’re just strong safeties. We need some versatility. I think when you know you’re playing a team and that guy is going to be the deep safety and that guy is going to be the down safety [it’s easier to game-plan]. In our scheme, when you play against a guy like Peyton Manning, you better not have the same guy doing the same thing.
“I think he can cover. I think he can play man, because he’s got the corner skills. He can also play free safety, because he has range. He’ll be down on the box. The one thing we felt about Malcolm all along, for us, that he was the right guy we were looking for because of his versatility. There are some other guys out there who are tremendous football players, but from what Billy [Davis, the defensive coordinator] was looking for and what we were looking for on the defensive side of the ball. He was the right fit for us.”
When a reporter asked Kelly about the Eagles’ free-agency objectives, he replied the priority was keeping the Eagles in-house free agents above all other considerations first.
“You have to look at what the market is,” Kelly said. “There are no objectives. You could have pie in the sky, that we want this, this and this, but is it available? And do those guys want to come to your team? Free agency is just additions to your team. I think the best thing we did as an organization is we signed Jason Peters, we signed Jason Kelce, we signed [Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin], Donnie Jones. We signed our good players back, before they got an opportunity to go to free agency, so you look at free agency as a way to complement. We’ve been here a year now, we still have some holes in terms of being a complete team. You can fill some of them in free agency, but we still have a ways to go.”