CHIP KELLY finally rolled out the "g" word yesterday, in discussing Nick Foles. As in "great."
Granted, Kelly kind of backed into it, sticking it into the middle of a long quote about how the second-year quarterback learns from his mistakes. But it was there, as hard to miss as Howard Eskin in a Santa suit, which also happened yesterday at Kelly's day-after news conference.
"I think one thing with Nick is, he's very critical of himself, but in a constructive way, and I think that shows up in terms of the little, teeny details that I think separate from being good and going to great. He's willing to work at that," Kelly said.
The first part of Kelly's answer to a question about Foles' level of play - he leads the NFL with a 118.8 passer rating, and has thrown 25 touchdowns with two interceptions in nine starts this season - seemed crafted to address the whole deal with Foles playing his worst game Oct. 20, in a 17-3 loss to Dallas, the team the Eagles face this week to decide who goes to the playoffs from the NFC East:
"I think his confidence is a byproduct of his experience, and I think the more looks he sees . . . he's a very quick study," Kelly said. "You have to be able to learn from your mistakes . . . You have to make mistakes in order to continue to grow and to continue to get outside your comfort level."
Kelly did not want to rehash the Dallas loss in detail.
LeSean McCoy, asked about Foles during McCoy's 94WIP radio show last night, said he'd been working with the low-key QB to try to develop some "swagger."
"People don't know this about Nick, but he is a competitor," McCoy said. "Like, bad, though. I thought I was bad. He's bad . . . He's a leader. He's a young, born leader. He doesn't overstep his boundary, because he is young, but just enough - if the line [to be overstepped] is at 10, he's at 9.5. He's right there. Next year, depending on what happens - I feel he is our quarterback - he's going to be an amazing leader" as the unchallenged starter.
Developing story lines
* Brandon Boykin not only played a week after suffering a concussion at Minnesota, he kept a Donnie Jones punt from going into the end zone, leading to a safety, then he undercut Earl Bennett's route for that 54-yard pick-six. "He's just a playmaker," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said last night, on Roseman's 94WIP radio show.
* The Eagles averaged 8.0 yards per rushing attempt Sunday. Their three running backs combined for 260 yards on 29 carries, with four touchdowns. That's 8.96 yards per carry.
* The play of the game was Bradley Fletcher's force of a Devin Hester fumble, recovered by Cary Williams at Chicago's 39. But the next play might have been Nick Foles' best. Chased by Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin, Foles threw on the run, across his body, hitting Zach Ertz for a 27-yard gain, to the Bears' 12. Four plays later, it was 14-0.
* Back-to-back sacks killed a Chicago scoring drive and took the Bears out of field-goal range, with the Eagles up, 21-0, in the second quarter. Mychal Kendricks blew past Matt Forte for the second sack.
* Chip Kelly was contrite afterward about blowing a timeout, trying to make sure LeSean McCoy's fumble was reviewed. Yes, it was a change of possession and had to be reviewed. When it was, McCoy was ruled down. But right before halftime, in another situation when Kelly couldn't challenge, the replay booth dozed while Jay Cutler slid down well short of the first-down marker, on third-and-10 from the Eagles' 43. Cutler was awarded a first down and was allowed to spike the ball with 3 seconds left, to set up a 50-yard Robbie Gould field goal. In Kelly's shoes, I'd be wondering how automatic the McCoy review was going to be.
* For a guy who normally sees the field only on special teams, that was a nicely executed block by backup center Julian Vandervelde on Lance Briggs, helping spring Bryce Brown 65 yards for the TD that set the final score.
* Time waits for no one, 33-year-old Julius Peppers discovered when LeSean McCoy spun/danced out of Peppers' grasp into the open, on the TD run that made it 33-3. "Just trying to get into the end zone," McCoy said on his 94WIP radio show last night. "Spinning, diving, jumping."
* Because the volume is always down on the press-box TVs, reporters at the postgame presser had no idea Chip Kelly was recycling material when he laid that "We're from Philadelphia and we fight" line on us. He'd tried it out on Michele Tafoya at halftime, she reported as the third quarter began. Masterful Philly spin by the Chipper, who took a ton of grief over the not-kicking-to-Cordarrelle Patterson business the week before.
The Eagles would honor retired Bears great Brian Urlacher by scoring his jersey number?
The Eagles intercepted eight passes last season. They have 17 picks in 2013, with a week left.
The Eagles won the turnover battle again Sunday, 2-1, scoring 14 points off an interception and a fumble. (The Bears scored their only touchdown in the wake of Brent Celek's fumble.) The Eagles haven't turned the ball over more than once in their last seven games, in which they are 6-1, not coincidentally.
The Eagles are plus-10 in those seven games; the only time they didn't gain an edge was the loss in Minnesota, in which each team suffered one interception.
"That's huge," Chip Kelly said yesterday. "That's the No. 1 thing offensively ... We talk about it as a group, being a great ball-security team. And I think SIWs, self-inflicted wounds, those are things we can prevent. We've done a better job as the season has gone along from a penalty standpoint on the offensive side of the ball, we've done a better job of not turning the ball over, and I think the numbers are off the charts, what our plus-minus is in games we've won, compared to the games we've lost."
Kelly said of Nick Foles: "Quarterback really values it, understands it."