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Kelly keeps Eagles focused on task at hand

Coach Chip Kelly will prepare for the Dallas game without regard to Tony Romo's possible absence or the game's importance.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and quarterback Nick Foles. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and quarterback Nick Foles. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)Read more

DALLAS COACH Jason Garrett would not confirm a report from ESPN insider Adam Schefter that quarterback Tony Romo won't play again this season because of a back injury.

But whether the Cowboys' Pro Bowl signal-caller suits up for Sunday night's showdown for the NFC East title will be irrelevant to how Eagles coach Chip Kelly prepares his team for the winner-take-all matchup.

One of the things we've learned about Kelly during his debut season as a NFL coach is that the guy is consistently unflappable.

I don't know what he does behind the closed doors at the NovaCare Center, but from all of his public appearances, be it after a loss or a victory, he comes off as a guy who doesn't get distracted from the task at hand.

Kelly has a plan in place for how he'll go about preparing his team for Dallas, and he's not going to let the magnitude of the game or the possible absence of Romo alter that.

"It's really the consistency and I think if you make it more than what it is, [the players] know," Kelly said of his approach with his players leading up to Dallas.

"They're pretty sharp. It's just like how I can't give them a fire-and-brimstone speech in a preseason game and tell them this is a Super Bowl. They're going to go, 'Coach, it's a preseason game.'

"They understand what it is, but they also have to understand our mentality is that every single time you get a chance to compete, you've got to consider what's on the line."

This is simple.

If the Eagles beat Dallas, they go to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. If they lose, they do not.

Is there really anything more that is necessary for a coach to say than that?

If a group of players who have been busting their humps through months of practices and games need more motivation than that, there is little more a coach can do.

"There's not a magic formula of how you get . . . geared up for this and not geared up for that," Kelly said. "I think if you do, you're living in peaks and valleys. I think we've got a competitive team. They take 2-minute situations in practice as a competitive situation, and that's what you hope.

"You've got a bunch of competitors that when the whistle blows, they're going to go out and compete. Do you get that every time, a thousand times in a row? No, and I think that's the biggest thing. Teams that can be consistent over time with that are the teams that win."

Technically, the game against Dallas is the biggest one of the season and has the most at stake. But Kelly prefers to look at it as just the continuation of a series of big games the Birds have played since the halfway point.

"I think that's been our approach," he said. "Since we went 3-5, every game has been kind of our backs are against the wall.

"This game is no different. As I told the guys [Sunday night], and I'll say again, for us the playoffs just started this week.

"If we're fortunate enough to win on Sunday, then we get an opportunity to play again. If we don't win on Sunday, then we're not playing again. It's very black-and-white to us. I don't think I have to hammer home in terms of this is the biggest game, because it is."