IT WAS Chip Kelly who trudged into the media tent Monday on a brisk, gray afternoon, and not, say, Jeffrey Lurie stepping to the microphone to announce a coaching change. So the assembled reporters, still reeling from what sure felt like a pair of era-defining Eagles losses last week, could latch onto that as a starting point.
Write down in notebook: Chip still here.
The next 20 minutes veered back and forth between two parallel tracks: questions about Kelly's future - whether he might want to or have to leave this 4-7 mess he has created - and questions about the mess itself, why it exists and what Kelly can do about it, with an unpromising visit to the New England Patriots looming this weekend.
In this story we're handling the first track.
Kelly denied that he spoke to anyone from USC about that school's coaching job before the Trojans made official the hiring of interim coach Clay Helton on a permanent basis Monday. He specifically denied a report from FootballScoop.com that he met with USC representatives on Friday in Philadelphia. Kelly said he was in New Hampshire on Friday.
"I've never spoken to anybody from USC. I've never emailed anyone from USC. I never got a phone call from anybody at USC," Kelly said. "I have never been in contact with anybody at Southern California."
Asked if the same could be said for his agent, David Dunn, Kelly said: "Same thing. I'm not involved with any college jobs. They said it before, the same thing happened a year ago, for Florida. I have great respect for all of those schools. I think USC just hired a coach who is a heckuva coach and he'll do a great job there, but I haven't been involved with any jobs or discussed anything with any colleges."
So, does being assured of the worst record of his three-year tenure, with so many of his personnel decisions having gone awry, affect his desire to stay here?
"It hasn't at all," Kelly said. "I can't control what's written . . . I've been totally committed since I got here on January 16th of 2013, and that hasn't changed. I'm here . . . I've never been involved in any other job since I came here. When I got here on January 16th, 2013, this is where I wanted to be."
The hiring of Helton, announced before Kelly's news conference, in a way made the USC questions moot. But not completely - Eagles players, and fans, surely want to know if Kelly is looking for another job, open to another job. Does Kelly worry about his players' mindset, their confidence in themselves and in him, after losing three games in a row, two in five days to the Bucs and Lions by a combined score of 90-31?
"I think anytime you're not successful, you worry about the mindset of your team going in . . . Execution fuels emotion," Kelly said. "If we're not executing, then we're not going to play with a lot of confidence - that's just human nature. But I've seen this team, this year, play with confidence. We played with confidence when we were playing down in Dallas . . . That's the fleeting thing; you go from one week to the next, and the teams that are really good, you consistently do that. And that's what we need to do."
Kelly said he talks to team chairman Lurie "all the time," including before the Monday presser, as Lurie prepared for league meetings. Kelly said he sought no assurances; he said they talked about facing the Patriots this week.
Kelly said he talks with leaders such as Connor Barwin, Malcolm Jenkins, DeMeco Ryans, Jason Kelce and Brandon Graham to make sure his message is getting through to the locker room.
"They're disappointed in how they performed and how they played," he said, when asked what they're telling him. "I think the biggest thing I get from it is, they're just disappointed. I think they want this as much as anybody wants this, and I think they train that way and prepare that way. I think they're disappointed with the outcome, that's what I get from them.
"No, I really don't," Kelly said, when asked if he feels he needs to go to the team and reassure players about his intentions. "Because there's so many things that are written and are said nowadays. A lot of times we just talk about it and laugh, to be honest with you.
"It's kind of sad that everybody can just write whatever they want and say whatever they want, and then everybody just takes it as the truth," he said. "It's the world we live in, but if you have to sit there every single day and combat everything that comes out, I think you're wasting time. Our focus and energy has got to be on the New England Patriots . . . It's crazy. It's the world we live in. I don't get worked up about it, I don't care, because I know it's not true."