Chip Kelly: Eagles' focus is on Giants, not offseason; starters to play
Despite the fact that Sunday's game against the Giants features no playoff implications for either team, Eagles coach Chip Kelly said Monday the starters will play and the team will "do everything we can to beat the New York Giants."
Don't expect to see some of the seldom-used rookies or second-year players on the field Sunday just because the Eagles were eliminated from playoff contention.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly squashed that idea early and often in his weekly Monday press conference ahead of the season finale against the Giants.
"Let's get that straight: We're going to win the football game," Kelly said. "So there is no, 'Hey, let's go see what we can do.' Our job is to go up and play the New York Giants and we're going to do everything we can to beat the New York Giants."
Mark Sanchez will close out the season as the starting quarterback. Nick Foles is once again out for Sunday, Kelly said.
Kelly was asked what the upside would be to not playing young, less experienced players to get more tape on them.
"The upside is we're going to win a football game and that's what this whole organization is all about," he said. "It's not about trying to see what the future is. It's about, 'We've got a game.' "
"I would not be fair in any of my beliefs and I would not be fair to any football player right now if I said to some guy, 'Hey I know you're a better player but I'm going to play a younger guy now.' That's not what we're all about. If you want to go do that, go somewhere else. That's not us. We get a chance to go put the ball on the ground, we're going to go play football. That's what we're going to do."
Some other notes from Kelly's press conference:
-A decision has yet to be made regarding whether the embattled Bradley Fletcher or Nolan Carroll II will start at left cornerback against the Giants, who feature stud rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Kelly was asked what has made Fletcher a better option than Carroll throughout the first 16 weeks of this season.
"I think Bradley's played well during the year," the coach said. "You talk about, 'He got beat a couple times by Dez Bryant.' But on Thanksgiving he didn't get beat by Dez Bryant. He actually played well in that game. You've got to look at it through the whole time. I think there's been times where he's played really good football for us."
-Kelly said first-round draft pick Marcus Smith II did not play a snap in Saturday's loss to the Redskins because "we felt confident in the guys who were playing at that point in time."
The coach said the decision is "based on what we see during the week in practice and are we going to put ourselves in a good situation for us to be productive when they're out here."
"I see a guy who's inconsistent at times," Kelly said of Smith, who was drafted as an outside linebacker but spent most of the season training at inside 'backer because of injuries.
"I think he's got a good skillset and can run around and make plays, but he's not consistent enough to earn playing time over the guys that are playing. For me to say to Brandon Graham, 'Brandon, I'm going to have you sit down,' there's a guy that's done an unbelievable job when he's been presented with a situation. He's improved as a special teams player. He's improved as an outside linebacker. He's been a great asset to our football team this year, and Marcus needs to continue to show us those things.
"But you earn playing time here. You're not just awarded playing time here based on how you came into here. That's not the way we operate. It's not fair to anybody else."