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Chip Kelly deflects concerns about Eagles' struggles

CHIP KELLY defended the Eagles' talent level Monday and asserted that he doesn't think this 6-9 group is "a bad team."

CHIP KELLY defended the Eagles' talent level Monday and asserted that he doesn't think this 6-9 group is "a bad team."

Kelly said he doesn't see the same mistakes being repeated: "There's not one thing to say, 'Hey, we need to fix this, then we're going to be good' . . . That's the part that's aggravating, to be honest with you. There's not just one thing."

Kelly was asked whether having so many problem areas was an indictment of talent or coaching. He said, "I don't think it comes down to a talent thing, no."

Reporters were left wondering what this might mean for Kelly's coaching staff, particularly defensive coordinator Bill Davis, whose unit faded into dysfunction over the second half of the season. Kelly has vigorously defended Davis several times lately.

"It didn't go our way, but I don't think we're a bad football team, not by any stretch," said Kelly, whose team has lost four of its last six games by an average margin of 24 points. The Eagles have allowed at least 38 points in each of those losses. "I can point to plays, and I think we are not consistent, and that we need to be consistent, and we have not done a good enough job as coaches of putting (players) in position to make plays.

"I don't think we need to revamp this entire group of guys, because I think we've got some really, really good guys."

Kelly's presser, heading into the final, meaningless week of the 2015 season, was a frustrating semantic dance with a coach who isn't yet interested in delving into the reasons behind his team's failures.

"We are not looking from long term what the season was about, all those other things. We still have a game to play against the Giants, and that's what we're going to prepare to do," Kelly said.

At one point, Kelly said performing the dual tasks of general manager and coach isn't taxing, because "I'm not the general manager. I don't run our personnel department. I'm not in charge of scouting . . . I don't negotiate contracts."

This is technically true. When Kelly was given full control of personnel last January, he appointed 31-year-old Ed Marynowitz to do the day-to-day personnel work, and former GM Howie Roseman apparently still handles the details of contracts, on Kelly's behalf.

But Kelly makes the final decisions in both areas, which means he has to know enough to make informed decisions, and thus must concern himself with more than only coaching, which was the point of the question, which Kelly intentionally misconstrued.

Asked whether he would be open to not having full roster control, should team chairman Jeffrey Lurie decide to change the setup, Kelly said: "The owner decides whatever he wants. It's his team; he can do whatever he wants. It's always been that way."

Lurie hasn't spoken publicly since just before the season began, when he declared Kelly was a "builder of a roster, culture builder. He's everything that I think we all thought when we interviewed him, and more."

On Monday, Kelly described Lurie as "very disappointed" about this season, adding: "I think we all are. I don't think there's anybody that's excited about the situation right now." But he said he and Lurie haven't discussed specifics and won't until next week, when the season is over.

It still seems really unlikely that Lurie will fire Kelly or seek to alter the power structure set up a year ago, which the chairman enthusiastically endorsed.

Assuming Kelly stays on, his most important task this offseason would seem to be securing the services of quarterback Sam Bradford, who can be a free agent if the Eagles don't sign or franchise him. Kelly reiterated Monday that he didn't trade for Bradford last March with the idea that he'd be here for only one season. Bradford said after Saturday's game he would like to stay, something he hadn't said publicly before.

"To me, he's always seemed comfortable being here," Kelly said. "It may be news to you guys, but not news to us."

There were reports before the season that the Eagles tried to reach agreement with Bradford and agent Tom Condon on a longer-term deal but that the talks broke off. It might have been impossible to peg Bradford's value at that point, as the quarterback prepared to return from back-to-back ACL tears.

Kelly said Monday that the Eagles don't negotiate contracts during the season.

"A player shouldn't be worried about a contract while the season is going on, and that will be something we will address after the season," Kelly said.

Kelly was asked about left tackle Jason Peters taking himself out of Saturday's loss to the Redskins. Fox 29's Howard Eskin reported, and a team source confirmed to the Daily News, that Peters told Eagles personnel he wasn't going to risk injury playing for a team that wasn't going to the playoffs. Peters hyperextended an elbow early in the game, but he missed only a few plays then. He has been in and out of games all season with a variety of problems, including a chronic back situation.

"We were just told he couldn't go any longer," Kelly said. "I know he got banged up early in the game. I think it was an elbow. He has been playing hurt all season long. I don't think people realize what he has gone through to get out on the field."

A reporter wondered why it would be OK for Peters to take himself out when other players with injuries continued to play.

"To look at one guy's injuries compared to another guy's injuries isn't really fair to anybody," Kelly said. "I think everybody at this point in time is banged up, and everybody understands themselves. But we are certainly not going to tell a player that, 'No, you're not hurt and you have to go back in the game.' I've never done that, never will do that. That's not how we're operating. In terms of Jason as a person, he has played through a lot since I've been here, in my three years here, and I will never question his toughness."


Quarterback Stephen Morris, signed by the Colts off the Eagles' practice squad Christmas Eve, might start Indianapolis' season finale against Tennessee, reports indicate . . . The loser of this week's Eagles at Giants game will play the St. Louis Rams next season in London . . . Jordan Matthews needs 57 receiving yards Sunday to reach 1,000 for the season.

On Twitter: @LesBowen