WISELY, Chip Kelly wasn't making any grand pronouncements as he headed into his first NFL bye week in first place in the NFC East at 6-5, the latest in a season the Eagles have been above .500 since 2010, when they last made the playoffs.
But it was clear in yesterday's day-after media session that Kelly is pleased with the progress his team has made, that he feels his offense and his overall approach are doing just fine, 11 games into Kelly's NFL head-coaching career.
"I really didn't have any preconceived expectations. A lot of it every day was, like, 'That was interesting. Didn't know that was going to happen' . . . We don't have a set, 'We have to get to this' or 'We have to get to that,' " Kelly said. "It's, 'Do we see improvement? Are we getting better? Do we continually make the same mistakes?' Things like that I think are for me what you can see from a growth standpoint.
"That's what I don't see. I see our guys, if we make a mistake, we correct it, we get better and we improve. That is the mark of an organization that is going in the right direction."
The Eagles were 1-3 after that dispiriting, 52-20 loss at Denver, and some elements in the national media were ready to declare Kelly overmatched. They got to 3-3, and those voices hushed. They fell to 3-5 during the period of "quarterback instability," as Kelly called it, when Michael Vick couldn't get his hamstring healed and Nick Foles suffered a concussion. Again, there were questions about Kelly. Now they're 6-5, and doubters are scarce, but if they lose a couple . . . well, you know how that will go.
People who are around the team all the time, though, see a coaching staff that has been able to bring order out of 4-12 chaos, able to nurture young talent, even turn around players such as safety Nate Allen, a 2010 second-round pick who had largely been written off by the fan base. And it seems pretty clear that if Kelly's offense gets competent quarterbacking, it will gain yards and score points.
Asked about his staff yesterday, Kelly said: "I thought it was really important to get a diverse group. You get too many people from the same pool, you all think alike and act alike, and that may not be the right way. I think it's important to hear from different voices and different people, and how people did it differently.
"But then you also have to have a bunch of guys that can put their egos aside and say, 'Now that we have all these ideas on the table, we all have to come to the conclusion of what's the best one, and how are we going to do it?' And that's hard. Because when you're interviewing guys at this level, I mean, everybody has a background, everybody has a resumé, everybody has coached at a lot of different places, and they're certainly more than qualified. But the biggest thing for me is making sure - and it's not a tangible thing - were they the right fit? . . . Because the players learn from the coaching staff. If your coaching staff has a bunch of egos on it and they're all acting in different ways, how can you not expect your players to act the same way? They're going to emulate the people that are teaching them."
Clearly, Kelly is proud of the coaching group he has assembled.
"We've got a bunch of guys that I think have all made the person next to them better," he said.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman talked about interviewing Kelly for the Eagles' job on Roseman's 94 WIP radio show last night.
"You get in this room and you start talking to him and asking him questions, and he is taking my notebook from me and diagramming plays on it, telling us the things he's going to do and how he schemes things up," Roseman said. "It doesn't take a long time to realize not only how smart he is, because that comes across really quickly, but how into it he is, how into matchups he is, into finding weaknesses in defenses, how he loves dissecting them."
Assessing the team going into the bye, Roseman said: "When a team is able to take on the personality of their head coach, especially when you have a really good, talented head coach like we have, I think that's an important characteristic. What we're able to see is our team has done a great job of buying in to everything coach has asked them to do, putting their head down, working really hard.
"We're trying to become a really tough, disciplined football team that's willing to be aggressive at the right time. It's such an important thing for young players to be able to buy into that and see results. See that when you do the right thing, positive things happen. From my perspective, that's the most encouraging thing we've got going on. We have 53 players becoming a team."
In case you haven't heard, the Dec. 1 game against visiting Arizona is not being flexed. It remains a 1 p.m. game ... In his weekly visit with the morning show on 94 WIP yesterday, Chip Kelly took the blame for that Redskins-ballcarrier-out-of-bounds play that didn't get challenged. There wasn't much time between the replay and the next play, but Kelly said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur alerted him, and Kelly was a little too slow on the trigger . . . Kelly said yesterday that Michael Vick might have been able to play Sunday had the Eagles needed him . . . Kelly said Fletcher Cox "was a disruptive force in every way, shape and form" against the Redskins.