Everyone around here is still trying to get a read on Chip Kelly, still trying to get a sense of how he's handling these jagged early weeks of his first season as an NFL coach. So it was interesting to witness his reaction Thursday when LeSean McCoy wouldn't lower his voice.
Kelly was responding to a question at his late-morning news conference when McCoy strode out of the NovaCare building and onto the practice field. McCoy was talking so loudly to a teammate that he drowned out Kelly's answer, and the coach finally gave up trying to talk over him.
"Shady, we good?" Kelly called out to McCoy.
It took McCoy a moment to hear him.
"Can we continue?" Kelly said again, a grin unfolding.
McCoy apologized, and Kelly tossed him a laurel - "Love ya" - before finishing his answer.
For a coach on a winning streak, a moment of levity like that one would have been understandable, even expected.
But the Eagles have lost their last three games, each by a more lopsided margin than the one before, and the notion that Kelly's offensive strategies and system would revolutionize the NFL doesn't have quite the same sheen it once did.
In fact, Kelly has had a losing record for two weeks now, just the second time in his head coaching career that he's been below .500. The only other instance was a nine-day stretch in September 2009, after he lost, 19-8, to Boise State in his first game at Oregon.
The aftermath of that loss wasn't easy for Kelly. One of his players, running back LaGarrette Blount, had punched out a Boise State player after the game - a challenging test of Kelly's mettle while he was still a neophyte head coach. (He initially suspended Blount for the season, then reinstated him two months later.)
And from a pure football standpoint, Boise State had embarrassed Kelly and his souped-up offense, holding Oregon to 152 total yards and six first downs.
Talk to those Eagles players who were on that Oregon team, though, and they'll tell you that Kelly coached and carried himself in the same relaxed manner then that he does now. That Oregon team went 10-3 and reached the Rose Bowl, and there was a correlation, the players said, between Kelly's personality and their performance.
"The fact is that you didn't see that deer-in-the-headlights look, the panic that we had to go change a bunch of stuff because it wasn't working," said defensive end Brandon Bair, a member of the Eagles practice squad. "It was, 'This is adversity. Here's how we're going to handle it. Let's keep moving forward. Let's keep getting better.' "
An undrafted free agent, Bair had bounced from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Oakland Raiders before joining the Eagles. "I've been around lots of coaches in this league and lots of coaches outside of Chip," he said. "You can tell when there's panic. You just see by the immediate changes they make, how tense people are in the meeting rooms, how upset people get. It's not the case here. It's like, 'Guys, we've still got to keep pushing harder, but relax and focus on what's important. We're going to get this.' "
Indeed, to watch Kelly for the first 10 minutes of practice Thursday - with an important NFC East game three days away - was to see a coach bounding around the field, back-slapping his players, apparently paying no mind to the civic angst that's been swelling around him for the last three weeks.
This is Philadelphia, after all. Civic angst swells when the Eagles go three-and-out on a game's first possession.
"That's just who he is," linebacker Casey Matthews said. "That's just how he's been - this week, a little more. He'll go talk to players during practice. He's still going to play the music, fast, up-tempo.
"He dropped a joke on me today because me and [safety] Colt [Anderson] hit each other when we were running to the ball. He just said, 'What, does Colt not like you? What was that about?' "
That was a curious throwaway line in Matthews' comment, wasn't it? This week, a little more. The Giants are in a worse way than the Eagles, 0-4, down and desperate, and if the Eagles do win Sunday, maybe that funny little tete-a-tete with McCoy is worth filing away for future reference.
It could turn out to be an indication, however small, of just how confident in himself and his team Chip Kelly always was, even ahead of a game they probably can't afford to lose.