PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles coach Chip Kelly likes to create the impression he barely knew there was a National Football League up until the moment he accepted a job coaching in it.
Case in point: At his Monday news conference, Kelly was asked about the trend that has lower-seeded teams more likely to win the Super Bowl than teams that earn a playoff bye week.
“I never really looked at it when I was in college,” Kelly said. “We watched the games when we had time if we having recruiting meetings, things like that, but I never really studied it.”
Sometimes Kelly slips up, though, and reveals just how closely he pays attention to everything. When someone asked about the New Orleans Saints’ 3-5 record on the road this year, Kelly shrugged in a different way.
“Tampa Bay couldn’t win a game in cold weather until they came in here,” Kelly said. “So we’re not going to get caught up in that one, I can tell you that.”
That was a reference to the NFC championship game between the Buccaneers and Eagles 11 seasons ago. Kelly knew all about that, but he doesn’t know the last three Super Bowl winners had to play first-round games because they weren’t No. 1 or 2 seeds?
It’s possible. But it’s much more likely Kelly decides which messages he wants his players to hear from him. That Bucs-in-cold-weather factoid is an object lesson about paying too much attention to an opponent’s prior history. The fact the Eagles, at 10-6, have as good a chance to go to the Super Bowl as the top-seeded Seattle Seahawks could get his players looking beyond the task at hand.
A few other highlights from Kelly’s meeting with reporters:
The coach doesn’t seem any more enthusiastic about safety Eugene Chung than Eagles fans are.
“I think Pat’s done some good things,” Kelly said. “There’s some plays he probably wants to do a little bit better, but I think Pat’s done some really good things for us.”
Rookie safety Earl Wolff missed another game after aggravating his right knee injury against Chicago. Even if he’s ready to play against the Saints, he’s likely to be limited because of the time he’s missed. Veteran Kurt Coleman had earned some of Chung’s playing time before injuring his hamstring.
In other words, Chung is playing because there aren’t any alternatives.
Kelly’s unusual practice schedule revolves around recovery, intense training and then tapering as the next game approaches. It is why the Eagles practice on Tuesday, unlike other teams, and do lighter work on Fridays and Saturdays.
With a short week, that carefully planned schedule has to change.
“Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Wednesday, Wednesday’s Thursday, Thursday’s Friday, Friday’s Saturday,” Kelly said. “You just subtract a day. We got off the field and they told us we’re playing Saturday. We can’t call a timeout and say we need an extra day. But the team you’re playing is in exactly the same situation. No one gets an advantage.”
As for the challenge of playing the Saints, Kelly kept it simple.
“The challenge is Drew Brees,” he said, calling Brees a “Hall of Fame quarterback” and comparing him to Peyton Manning. As a college coach, Kelly said, he was familiar with Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, which produced both Brees and Nick Foles.
“I was at New Hampshire when Brees came out,” Kelly said. “I don’t think New Hampshire was on his wish list.”