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Sorry, fans, Chip Kelly will return in 2016

CHIP KELLY'S future as the Eagles' head coach and king of all things football has been a popular topic on the radio talk shows the last couple of weeks.

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly prior to action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly prior to action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field.Read more(Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

CHIP KELLY'S future as the Eagles' head coach and king of all things football has been a popular topic on the radio talk shows the last couple of weeks.

While I'm sure it's been great for ratings, it's about as useless as pondering the possibility of the sky falling.

Sorry, Joe from Fishtown and Frank from South Philly. It just ain't gonna happen.

No matter what happens in the remaining five weeks of the regular season, no matter how poorly the 4-7 Eagles play, Kelly isn't going anywhere, and he isn't going to lose any of his power.

None of us really knows Kelly, which is exactly the way he prefers it. But I think I know him well enough from covering him the last three years to know he's not a guy who will cut and run.

He told his players earlier this week he intends to stay in Philadelphia as long as owner Jeff Lurie will have him, and, for now at least, I believe that. Feel free to disagree, but that's my opinion.

As for the possibility of Lurie deciding to either fire Kelly or relieve him of his personnel power if this season continues to turn into a death spiral, that also won't happen.

Lurie isn't Dan Snyder or Jerry Jones or Jed York or Stephen Ross. He doesn't make rash decisions. Doesn't always make the right ones, but when he makes one, you can rest assured that he's put a great deal of thought into it and believes it's the correct decision.

That's not to say he's stubborn and never admits mistakes. He does. He has. But he won't make a knee-jerk reaction based on one disastrous year that followed back-to-back 10-win seasons.

When he made Kelly king last January, he did so with his eyes wide open. He knew the risks. He knew Kelly would make a lot of bold moves in his attempt to take the Eagles from good to great.

He knew that some of those bold moves might not pan out. At least not right away. But he believed in Kelly and believed in his plan. According to people in the league who talk to Lurie, he still does.

"He's an excellent coach in this league," Lurie said in early September. "There's no question about it. He doesn't need to prove anything. He's a builder of a roster, a culture builder. He's everything that I think we all thought (he was) when we interviewed him, and more."

I know a lot of people out there think Lurie doesn't really care whether the Eagles ever win a Super Bowl. That the franchise is just a $1 billion possession. The equivalent of a Rembrandt or a Matisse. Nothing could be further from the truth.

That's why he bought in to Kelly's good-to-great plan. After 20 years of close-but-no-cigar, after four NFC Championship Game defeats and one heartbreaking Super Bowl loss, he was desperate enough to try something different; to take a big gamble if it might finally get his team a Lombardi Trophy.

"We want to deliver a Super Bowl," he said last March at the league meetings in Phoenix. "Sometimes I'm influenced by the notion that it's very difficult to get from good to great. And you've got to take some serious looks at yourself when you want to try to take that step.

"It's a gamble to try to go from good to great, because you could go from good to mediocre with changes. But I decided it was important enough to adopt the vision and philosophy of integrating the scouting with the coaching on a daily basis."

Lurie acknowledged that day that there certainly was a possibility that DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews might not end up being as productive as LeSean McCoy. He acknowledged that Sam Bradford might get hurt again or might not turn out to be a franchise quarterback. But he believed the moves were worth the risk.

"You've got to take chances to be great," he said. "We're not interested in being predictable in terms of what we do in player personnel. We can't be risk-averse. Do you want to take upside gambles or not? You have to make that decision."

And you don't tear up the game plan after one bad season.

Hovering around

Hoverboards have become the new cool thing for athletes, celebrities, rappers and anybody else who wants to shell out $250 to $1,600 for one.

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins estimates that about 20 of his teammates own the popular, self-balancing scooter - think miniature Segway without the handle - and that about seven, including himself, use them regularly to get around the team's NovaCare training facility.

Some days it seems like 50. Players can regularly be seen using them to get to and from the locker room, the cafeteria and team meetings.

"I got one for training camp, so I wouldn't have to walk around," Jenkins said. "It caught on really quickly."

Some pro sports teams, including the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, have banned hoverboards from their facilities for fear of somebody getting hurt. Most teams, though, including the Eagles, have no rules against them.


"There are a lot of them," Chip Kelly said. "It's a little bit like 'Back to the Future' with guys flying around the hallways here. But I'm not (concerned).

"If we had an injury, we would address it. But they've been doing it since preseason camps and maybe back to OSPs (offseason program), and we haven't had any (he knocks twice on the podium) hoverboard injuries.

"I don't even know how you would put that on the injury report. Hoverboard - Grade I or Grade II?"

Kelly probably likes them because it gets players where they need to be more quickly than walking. And we know how much he likes tempo.

"A lot of teams have banned them around the facility," said Jenkins, who taught most of his teammates how to ride one. "A lot of guys in Carolina have them, but they can't ride them in the facility because guys started racing them. I think Cam Newton almost fell off of one."

Newton was spotted last weekend riding a hoverboard in traffic after the Auburn-Alabama game. Panthers coach Ron Rivera probably needed CPR after he saw that video.

"I've ridden mine in the street a few times," Jenkins said. "Once you're good at it, you'll be all right."

Sooner or later, some NFL player will get hurt on one, and that'll be the end of hoverboards in the locker room. But for now, everybody is having fun with them.

The high-end hoverboards can reach a maximum speed of about 10 mph.

"The first guy who falls off is going to take the rap for the whole team," Jenkins said. "Luckily, no one's been dumb enough to race one of 'em."

2-minute drill


* "Guys on this team want to play for him. He definitely brings it each day to work. He comes in excited and everybody loves how he carries himself. Some of the media don't like how he portrays himself in the media, but it's fun for us. We love the guy and we love to play for him." - Bill LB Preston Brown, on head coach Rex Ryan

* "Just trying to do everything we can to help you out. Sorry if you're offended by that. Just trying to be cooperative and help you out. If that's a problem, just let me know." - Patriots coach Bill Belichick, when asked why the team issued a joint statement with Rob Gronkowski on the tight end's injury status earlier this week, which basically said he'd play again when his injured knee is 100 percent healed

* "We have to find a way to become a more physical offense. We need more of a physical presence. However we establish that, that's what I'm looking for. I don't think we scare anybody in the AFC East and that bothers me. We need to find a way, even if it is two-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust . . . I am a more run-oriented person. I want to be more balanced. I like a more balanced approach." - Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell, on why the team fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor


* Since the current 12-team playoff format was instituted in 1990, 18 teams have qualified for the postseason despite having a losing record after 11 games. That includes the '06 Eagles, who rallied from a 5-6 start to finish 10-6. Only four teams have recovered from 4-7 starts to make the playoffs.

* Adrian Peterson notched his 18th career 150-yard rushing performance last week, with 158 yards in the Vikings' 20-10 win over the Falcons. That ties him with Eric Dickerson and Emmitt Smith for the fourth most 150-plus-yard games in history. Only Barry Sanders (25), Jim Brown (22) and Walter Payton (20) have more.

* DeSean Jackson's 63-yard touchdown catch against the Giants last week was his 19th career TD of at least 60 yards. That's the fourth most in league history. Jerry Rice has the record, with 23.

* Chiefs QB Alex Smith ran his streak of attempts without an interception to 283. That's the fourth most in NFL history, behind only Tom Brady (358), Bernie Kosar (308) and Bart Starr (294).

* Tom Brady has thrown only 48 interceptions in his last 91 games. That covers 3,401 attempts, or only one every 70.8 passes.

Figuring the Eagles

* The Eagles have blitzed on 41.7 percent of their opponents' pass plays (106-254) in their seven losses and only 17.4 percent (33-190) in their four wins (see accompanying chart in the gallery for game-by-game blitz breakdown).

* The Lions averaged an astounding 9.11 yards per play on second down against the Eagles. Matthew Stafford completed 16 of 19 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns on second down.

* Sam Bradford has 88 third-down attempts this season. Only 23 of those attempts, or 26.1 percent, have resulted in first downs. The only quarterback in the league with a worse third-down conversion percentage is the Rams' Nick Foles (24.8). On first and second down this season, Bradford has been reasonably efficient. He has a 90.3 passer rating on first/second down and has completed 69.7 percent of his passes and averaged 7.9 yards per attempt. It's third down that has killed him and the Eagles. He has a 57.6 passer rating on third down, including a 48.9 completion percentage and a league-worst 4.01 yards-per-attempt average.

* The Eagles have blitzed 46.4 percent of the time in their consecutive losses to Miami, Tampa Bay and Detroit. They probably won't blitz nearly as much Sunday against Tom Brady. According to Pro Football Focus data, Tom Brady has a 112.7 passer rating against the blitz this season. Over the last five seasons, he has a 109.3 passer rating with 61 touchdown passes and only six interceptions when teams have blitzed him.

* The Eagles are 14th in the league in opponent passer rating vs. the blitz (85.1). Opponents have completed 56.3 percent of their attempts and have nine TDs and five interceptions when the Eagles have sent extra rushers. Thirteen of their 26 sacks have come when they've blitzed. The top-five blitzing defenses by opponent passer rating vs. blitz:

C-A Yds. TD/I Sks. Rat.

CAR. . . 57-109 648 7/8 15 61.3

ATL. . . 59-87 699 1/6 3 67.2

DEN. . . 75-136 715 6/5 15 69.3

ARI. . . 96-177 1178 9/7 12 75.5

CIN. . . 49-78 444 2/2 6 76.0

* In the Eagles' last four games, opposing quarterbacks have a 136.0 passer rating on third down. They've converted 59.5 percent of their third-down pass attempts into first downs:

C-A Yds. TD/I Sks. 1st Dwn.

DAL. . . 8-11 110 2/0 2 8

MIA. . . 8-12 121 0/0 2 5

TB. . . 9-12 101 3/0 0 8

DET. . . 4-7 39 2/0 1 4

Totals 29-42 371 7/0 5 25

* The Eagles have given up 15 touchdown passes in the last four games, bringing their season total to 25. They're on pace to give up 37, which would be the most in franchise history, and the third time in the last four years that they've given up at least 30 TD passes.

* Quick-strike touchdown drives have steadily decreased each year under Chip Kelly. In 2013, 22 of the Eagles' 51 touchdown drives were four plays or fewer. Last year, it was 10 of 43. Through 11 games this year, only six of their 25 TD drives have been four plays or fewer, and only one in the last six games.

* If left tackle Jason Peters can stay on the field this week, it would significantly aid the Eagles' chances of upsetting the Patriots. The Eagles are 11-4 over the last two seasons when Peters is on the field for at least 65 snaps. When he's not: 3-9.

* The Eagles have the distinction of being the only team in the league that has never intercepted a Tom Brady pass in either the regular season or the postseason.

* Hard as this may be to believe, the Eagles' opponents have had more possessions without a first down this season than the Eagles. The Eagles have failed to pick up a first down on 42 of 141 possessions. Their opponents: 51 of 138.

* Only four of the defense's 26 sacks this season have come in the fourth quarter. Last year, only nine of their 49 sacks were in the fourth quarter.

Scouting the draft

Paxton Lynch of Memphis is considered one of the top three quarterback prospects in the 2016 draft, along with Cal's Jared Goff and Michigan State's Connor Cook. An NFC scout broke down Lynch for the Daily News:

Scout: "He's pushing 6-7, but is athletic for his size. He has good mobility. He doesn't have a lot of help around him down there. There's no go-to receiver or go-to running back. But he does a good job of manufacturing points.

"He can make all of the throws. There's no questions about his arm strength. His accuracy is above average. Not out of sight, but above average. He see the field, can throw it on time. And he'll make plays with his legs if he has to.

"He's not as good as (Marcus) Mariota and (Jameis) Winston were when they came out last year. They play a spread down there. So he's going to be on the same learning curve as all of the rest of these guys who have come out of spread offenses, including Mariota. You can't say this guy is in Mariota's class, because Mariota was a little more decisive with the ball and he had people around him.

"But Lynch is very smart. There's nobody that I can really compare him to. Maybe physically a little like (the Broncos' Brock) Osweiler. Despite his size, he doesn't look gangly or awkward. Sometimes, when you get beyond 6-5, you start to look a little awkward. But he doesn't.

"He's going to get drafted in the first round because of the position he plays. How high is going to depend on who the shoppers are. Strictly on talent, if you ignored the position need, he's probably a low-first-rounder. But he'll go higher than that."