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Thursday, October 3, 2013
Chipper Kelly covets trophy, nixes USC talk

By Phil Sheridan

PHILADELPHIA -- It’s always dangerous to read too much into a coach’s mood. Chip Kelly might have been especially, well, chipper Thursday morning because he feels his Philadelphia Eagles can handle the New York Giants Sunday -- or maybe Kelly just had a good breakfast.

Whatever the cause, Kelly was notably more upbeat during his morning briefing with reporters. As chatty players passed him on the way out to the fields for practice, Kelly interrupted an answer to call out playfully to running back LeSean McCoy.

“Is that McCoy talking loud? That’s surprising,” Kelly said. “LeSean! LeSean! We good? Can we continue?”

“Sorry, coach,” McCoy shouted back.

“Love you, man!” Kelly replied.

The first-year coach is managing a team that endured a 52-20 loss in Denver Sunday. But if his 1-3 team can beat the Giants, and if Dallas loses to those red-hot Broncos, the Eagles would be tied for first place in the NFC East.

“I was fired up,” Kelly said. “I called the league office. I wanted to find out when the trophy presentation would be.”

Kelly used that same gag on his players this week. They laughed, too.

“I got the same response, because it doesn’t matter if you’re in first place in the first week of October,” Kelly said. “What matters is if you’re in first place after Dec. 29. But this week contributes to being in first place on Dec. 29. So let’s not waste energy on 'If this happens or this happens...' This game could have huge ramifications down the road.”

Kelly teased a reporter who asked how he would respond if contacted by USC, which fired head coach Lane Kiffin last week.

“I don’t deal in hypotheticals,” Kelly said.

Maybe he realized it was smarter to put an end to the idle speculation that immediately arose upon Kiffin’s sudden dismissal.

“I’m the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles,” Kelly said. “I’m very excited to be here. I’m here.”

That was easy to accept, given his cheery demeanor. The main reason for speculation about Kelly in relation to any attractive college vacancy is the Eagles’ 1-3 record. If he were to decide the NFL just wasn’t for him, a la Bobby Petrino, that would be the obvious escape plan.

But Kelly isn’t running from his record. He believes his team is making progress, but gets why fans are discouraged by 1-3, and by 52-20.

“Honestly,” Kelly said, “I don’t think you should be looking at anything else. That’s what we all get graded on at the end of the day, is wins and losses. We as a group understand our plan, and that’s what this deal’s all about. But at the end of the day, if you’re not winning enough games, you’re not going to be around very long.”