PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — 4th-and-7 from the 39-yard line of the New Orleans Saints and 4th-and-9 from the Saints’ 35-yard line. Chip Kelly didn’t flinch and neither did his offense.READ MORE: Waterford Township Schools Closed After More Than 60% Of Staff Sickened Following Luncheon
While both fourth down attempts were incomplete passes intended for Riley Cooper—one a terrible route by Cooper, the other an excellent defensive play by Saints corner Keenan Lewis—the tone was set.
Maybe Kelly doesn’t trust his kicker Caleb Sturgis, or maybe—at 1-3—he was simply pressing for something good to happen. Kelly, however, said it wasn’t either of those theories.
“It was just a little bit too far out of our field-goal range,” Kelly explained on the 94WIP Morning Show. “I think one of them would have been a 57-yarder. You’re kind of right on that fringe area. A lot of times, if there’s not wind involved the 35-yard line is kind of the line to gain for us and we were just short of us.
Listen: Chip Kelly on the 94WIP Morning Show
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“When do I that or make that decision, it’s really—and people don’t understand it—it’s because I have great confidence in our defense,” Kelly said. “You have to weigh the positive—obviously is you get a first down and you stay on the field. But the negative is that you turn the ball over right there and I felt the way our defense had been performing, that I had total confidence in them.”
Even against Drew Brees?
“I think Drew is one of the all-time greats, but I’m also very pleased about how our defense has played,” Kelly said.
The Eagles’ defensive captain linebacker DeMeco Ryans, or Mufasa as Kelly once called him, agrees. In fact, Ryans says regardless of the outcome, Kelly’s aggressive approach on fourth down boasts the spirit of the entire team.
“As a defensive player, I love that approach,” Ryans said on the 94WIP Morning Show. “Go after it. I like to see that, I like to see us being aggressive and on the attack from the offensive side. Even if we didn’t get the first down, but it’s OK. Defensively, I like that mindset that we were taking. I like the aggressive approach that our offensive coaches are calling, we like it as a defense, so we know we just have to go out and just keep finding a way to get them the ball.
Listen: DeMeco Ryans on the 94WIP Morning Show
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“We felt that it adds some juice to the defense,” Ryans continued. “When you see the coach going it for it on fourth down, you know—one he has confidence that if it doesn’t happen the defense can make a stop and give them the ball. It’s just the confidence in the offense that hey, we can go and get this first down. I think it just uplifts the spirit of the entire team whether we get it or we don’t. You just love the approach from the head coach.”