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Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Kelly focused on 'one-week mission' on bye

By Ted Miller

We can eliminate two things that Oregon coach Chip Kelly could be doing during the Ducks "improvement" week: Fishing and watching the NFL.

Kelly was asked about both this week and said neither was on his agenda.

The fishing question was a joke on the Pac-12 coaches call Tuesday. The Ducks, after all, will begin earnest preparations this weekend for their intriguing visit to Arizona State on Thursday, Oct. 18, so there's little time for recreation. Kelly's response to a question about New England coach Bill Belichick using an up-tempo offense was more interesting.

Kelly not only pooh-poohed the idea he'd had much influence with Belichick, despite it being documented in the Boston Globe this week, he claimed he had little idea what might be going on in the NFL, despite more teams experimenting with up-tempo, no-huddle attacks he'd help popularize.

Chip Kelly
Chip Kelly isn't interested in big picture assessments of Oregon's season. The Ducks are "on one-week missions," according to Kelly.
"We're working all day Sunday," Kelly said. "The only thing you'll see is a clip on 'SportsCenter' when you're brushing your teeth. I couldn't tell you the last time I sat down and watched an NFL game."

Ducks fans might like the sound of that. In January, it seemed that Kelly was on the cusp of being hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he pulled back at the last minute to stay in Eugene.

We do know two things: 1) Kelly strongly values relationships with other high-level coaches in many sports because he's clearly obsessed with the nuances of coaching; 2) Kelly has little interest in sharing interesting information with the media and fans.

He was asked to assess how his 6-0, No. 2-ranked team had played so far.

"We don't really think of it that way," he said. "Every week is a season for us. Our sole focus right now is we're in an improvement week for us."

That's Kelly's brand of a beige response. Most other coaches would have said something like this: "I like our focus and effort, how hard guys are playing and practicing. But we can get a lot better. We can -- and need to -- improve in every area."

Kelly doesn't reject every question just for the sake of rejecting it. He is very good at talking about his players. Want to know what he thinks of quarterback Marcus Mariota so far?

"He's a tremendous learner," Kelly said. "He works extremely hard at the game of football."

But he doesn't entertain queries about scheme, hypotheticals or big-picture issues. That means he'll leave the midseason assessments to everyone else.

"We don't really look at the totality of anything," he said. "We'll do some offseason stuff of overarching things -- what we're doing well, what we're not doing well -- but really we're on one-week missions here. That's the way we've always approached it."

And, as Kelly enjoys noting, it's worked fairly well so far.