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Head Coach Chip Kelly

Posted Nov 18, 2013

In Nick Foles, are we really seeing extraordinary quarterbacking or are we just seeing your offense hitting its stride?

CHIP KELLY: It's always about the individual, so it doesn't matter what plays are called or what scheme is run. They still have to be executed. I think he is executing them and all the credit goes to him. He spends a lot of time. He works extremely hard at it. He's got a really good grasp on what we're doing, extremely accurate in his throws. Again, doing a great job of just making decisions and not putting the ball in harm's way. Sometimes you look at some passes. Some guys go through the defender's hands and it's not an interception. But it's like, whoa, if he caught that. We had two of those last week against Green Bay if we just caught the ball. That's two more interceptions for us. But very rarely do you see those situations come up in a game. I think he's a really good decision maker. It's exciting to see him grow here.

Whether it's a pump fake on the screen to the other way or a look off, is he as good as you thought he’d be? Has he always been this way even when you saw him against Arizona, is he really refining that part of his game?

CHIP KELLY: I didn't study him when he was at Arizona. I was usually pissed off when we were playing him because he was making plays. But you don't really get a chance to watch him, the intricacies of what he's doing. What are they throwing here? Three step concept, five step concept. How quickly is he getting the ball out of his hands. That's our thought process. You're not thinking about when you're playing against him some day I'm going to coach him because he had already transferred. Wasn't like he was going to transfer again.

How about how has he improved since the summer?

CHIP KELLY: It's like everybody. First they learn how you call a play. Then once they got that down, now it's where is everybody? Now you've got that down. How do we continue to refine it? Now I've got my foot work down, and I'm just reacting going from one to two to three. Now if I want to go to one, maybe I can make them stay on two longer. Instead of you going through your progression, it's forced them to go through progression. He's done a really good job as we continue to grow as a group where he's continuing to really the little things are coming out, and I think that's what he is seeing in his game.

You've always said that he could thrive in your offense and run your offense. What is it about the scheme that puts it to someone like Nick?

CHIP KELLY: I think it's all about flexibility in what we do in terms of it's always based on personnel. I've had different style quarterbacks in my career. So I think anybody that's smart at what they're doing is going to cater their offense to what they do. I think the best example in this league is John Fox. When he had Tim Tebow, he ran one offense and they did a hell of a job and went to the playoffs. Then he had Peyton Manning and the offense changed. He didn't ask Peyton Manning to do what Tim Tebow was doing, but he didn't ask Tim Tebow to do what Peyton Manning did. You have a group of players. This is what you've got, now let's assess how we can put them in position to make plays then get out of the way and let them make the play. If you have a guy who is more of a runner, and I had some of those guys in my career at Oregon, we feature more quarterback runs. You have somebody who is more of a thrower, you feature more throws. You have a guy that can do both, that puts more stress on the defense. But it has to be catered to who is pulling the trigger.

When Nick was in here, he said it's generally the same with the scheme?

CHIP KELLY: It is. But I think when Nick takes off, it's not 60 yards, but it's 6. In critical situations, he can still do that. So that is the point I was trying to stress there. We're not calling  it's not an entirely different package. But I think in everybody, there are subtleties in there that Nick may like this throw better than Mike [Vick] likes that throw. But overall we're still running four verticals, double post concepts. We're still running the quick game, still running our schemes. So I think that part is similar.

Nick said he is basically learning how to run and having a lot of fun doing it. How has his decision making been from your standpoint of when to run and when not to run?

CHIP KELLY: I think it's been good. He's miss

ed a few and he'll admit that. But a lot of that is through repetition. You've got to get a feel for how to do it. A lot of that is how much do we want to put him in those situations where if we hand it off, we get three. Yeah, we'll live with that. We're good with second and 7. But it's an experience factor. You get a little bit more comfortable, little better feel of it. You get an understanding of what you can do and what you can't do.

The last three games you guys have done a really good job of limiting on the field position start drives and taking care of the ball and punt coverage. How important when you rank things, obviously giving the other guy the longer field or shorter field, in terms of Bill Davis having some flexibility for what he has to dial up when the other guy has a ways to go? In these last three games, the importance of that field position game?

CHIP KELLY: Yeah, it's huge. I think the biggest factor that factors into that is No. 1, don't turn the ball over offensively. Obviously you give them a lot shorter field. If we don't convert offensively and we're in the situation where we have to punt, can we pin them deeper? The play by [Brandon] Boykin and pinning the ball inside the five. The unbelievable punt by Donnie [Jones] in the fourth quarter there, that is huge. Obviously statistics will tell you the longer the field is to drive, the better chance of success for the offense. The shorter the field, the better it is the other way. So I think what we have to do is continue to understand that field position battle. It takes all phases. It takes the offense not turning the ball over. Churning out a couple first downs so we can move the ball out of harm's way. If we have to kick and turn it over, how good is the punt? Where does it go from a directional standpoint. How good is our coverage unit in terms of keeping them pinned down in there, when our defense takes the field it is easier for a coordinator when you go out and you're defending 90 as opposed to defending 9. It's really how a team comes together as a group. It's the offense, defense, and special teams.

Are you someone who believes in momentum? How do you continue the way you're playing after a long break?

CHIP KELLY: Do I believe in momentum?

Yeah, from one week to the next?

CHIP KELLY: Yeah.

Do you?

CHIP KELLY: Yeah, if we win the next week.

So now you have this disruption in the schedule. How do you continue the way you've been playing?

CHIP KELLY: Well, I think this bye occurred exactly when the NFL planned it, because we knew about this when the schedule came out. So we've had a schedule in place knowing that we're going to play 11 games and get a break. So everybody in the league has a bye in their thing. So we don't really worry about it. I think when you start to think God, we're really playing well, I wish we didn't have a bye. Things that we don't control, we don't worry about.
We knew it was coming up. We knew how we were going to handle it and we've had the same schedule in place since June, so so be it. If you come out after a bye and don't play well, if you blame it on we were on a roll and had to take a break, you're giving yourself built-in excuses, and that's not what this deal is all about. We don't make excuses. We knew we were going to start the season and play three games in 11 days. That is the way it is. That's the way we roll with it, and move up. So I don't think of it from that standpoint.

How close was Mike Vick to playing, and do you think  

CHIP KELLY: I think Mike could have played if we needed him on Sunday. But we weren't going to keep three quarterbacks active.

Do you think he'd be ready soon?

CHIP KELLY: We're hoping when we come back off the bye with this week off when we get back to next week, that Mike will be up and ready to go. We'll see. I know he's progressing.

Did the late bye affect the way you prepared for this season? Would it have been any different if you had a bye in week four or week five?

CHIP KELLY: Not really. I mean, in terms of how we practice on a daily basis, no. In terms of what we did, we may  I felt maybe to answer your question, if the bye was earlier, we may practice a little bit more this week I know with it being in week 11 for all of us to get a break. So those guys are here today just watching film and doing some weight work. Then tomorrow we'll get out and then they'll be off. Maybe if this occurred week two, week three or sometime when's there is that early bye, I still think there is a lot of football to be practiced at that point in time. So I think that part is a little different.

Guys I talked to yesterday, older guys that had not experienced a bye this late in the season feel remarkably good, and they credit a lot of it to your approach to the whole sports science thing. But are you surprised that, except for the injuries you've had, that they feel as good as they do at this point?

CHIP KELLY: No, I'm not surprised. I mean, that's part of the plan. It's a well thought out research plan. It's not just, hey, let's try this. So it's a two way street in terms of they have to buy into it and they have done an unbelievable job buying into it because we're not with them 24/7, nor should we be with them 24/7. We've got a bunch of guys that want to be great at what they do. They understand not only what they do here during the day, but what they're not doing here during the day has a great effect on you being able to respond on Sundays. And they've bought into that, and I think that's a credit to those guys.

What are the keys to the red zone defense most of the year?

CHIP KELLY: In the last couple of weeks we've created a lot of turnovers down there, so I think that's huge. Obviously, the No. 1 thing is you want to stop. Not only are we getting stops, but we're getting turnovers created down there. That's kind of like the icing on the cake. But I think it's the field obviously gets shorter, there is not as much room for them to operate, and I think our guys have a pretty good understanding of the plan that's going in. I also think our guys, now that we have a body of work to study film, we have an idea what people are trying to do down there.
I think our coaches put together a plan and our players are executing them.

Do you think people said it's a bend don't break defense, give up yards but not a lot of points? Is that a fair classification?

CHIP KELLY: I don't care what they say. You can call it whatever you want.

Are you okay with that?

CHIP KELLY: I'm okay with whatever. This game has been about do you score on offense and do you not let them score on defense? I've said it before, and I'm not being facetious. We don't play fantasy football, we play real football. If it's at the end of the day, did you not give up points? That's what this game has always been about. The statistical part, you're chewing on things I don't think you need to be chewing on. You need to stop people from getting the ball in the end zone. And I think we're getting better at that. We can still do a better job of it, and I think we all know that. It's the same thing with us when we get down there. We had a field goal down there again. We need to convert and score touchdowns on it.

What did Fletcher Cox need to do to get from where he was in the first few weeks of the season to get to the level he's playing at right now?

CHIP KELLY: I don't know what he needed to do. I just think what you're seeing out of Fletcher is we're watching him grow. I still think you forget he's still a really young player. Everybody on our D line is a young player. So I think he's getting acclimated. For him, he's got a change in systems. A change in coaches, and really starting to grasp and figure out what we're trying to ask him to do. But I think his performance, what he did on Sunday was outstanding. He was a disruptive force in every way, shape and form. Had an interception. Had tackles, running around everywhere. I think he's starting to feel more comfortable in what we're asking him to do. I think our coaches understand better to putting him in better positions because they understand him better. I think we're all getting more familiar with each other. But I thought his performance on Sunday was outstanding.

With the way Nick's playing, is it just ridiculous to even ask about who the starting quarterback is?

CHIP KELLY: Yes. He's going to start for the bye week (joking). So you guys want to know who the starting quarterback is? Nick will be the starter for the bye week.

With Bennie Logan, he had talked about at the beginning of the year how it was tougher to come off the bench and find a rhythm. It seems like now you guys are starting him right off the bat.

CHIP KELLY: Yeah, I just think Bennie was new to everything. Whether he was coming off the bench or starting the first play of the game, it's all the same. You get out there and start to get into a rhythm. He's starting to feel more comfortable out there. You could see it in his play. He's starting to all of a sudden plays that he was a step away from a couple weeks ago, he's now there. I saw him come down the line a couple times and make a big play on the back, and that's really what we're starting to see with all those guys. I think everybody's growing as a group, as coaches, and it's encouraging as you head into this bye to be kind of on an upward momentum and not on a downward swing. I don't think it's because he wasn't starting. I think he's getting more snaps too overall.

With the quarterback competition in the summer, you talked to the guys and let them know which direction you were going in when the season started. Is that something you would do again?

CHIP KELLY: Yeah, whenever we get two healthy guys that we need to talk to.

Let me try a different way. Would it be necessary to name someone the starter?

CHIP KELLY: No, no. When they're both healthy, I'll sit down with both of them when they're both healthy.

What was your approach in college with bye weeks and in bowl games when you had some time off?

CHIP KELLY: Well, bowl weeks were definitely different. We played in four BCS games and they all occurred in January. So I think we hit somewhere between 31 and 37 days off. That's an entirely different animal in its own right. And when we had bye weeks in college, we had more. We used it as improvement weeks. Usually our guys aren't high tailing out of there and flying across the country and going home and doing all those other things. We gave them the weekend off. But we usually practice two or three days during that week, a Tuesday and Thursday, they were off Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and then come back the following Monday to start.

In college, it seems that most of the bye weeks were followed by Thursday night games. But what was your approach then in bye weeks and in bowl games when you had some type of absence?

CHIP KELLY: Well, bowl weeks were definitely different. We played in four BCS games and they all occurred in January. So I think we had somewhere between 31 and 37 days off. That's an entirely different animal in its own right. And when we had bye weeks in college, we used it as improvement weeks. Our guys aren't high-tailing out of there and flying across the country and going home and doing all those other things. We gave them the weekend off. But we usually practiced two or three days during that week, a Tuesday and Thursday, they were off Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and then come back the following Monday to start.

You brought in assistant coaches from a lot of different places. How have you seen the whole thing kind of come together as a staff, position coaches and coordinators and you? A lot of guys who didn't know each other, hadn't worked together and how difficult is it to get that kind of group working together?

CHIP KELLY: I think it's difficult if you make it difficult. One of the things that was very important to me was making sure we had the right fit and from a right fit, it was a personality standpoint. I thought it was really important to get a diverse group. You get too many people from the same pool, you all think alike and act alike and that may not be the right way. I think it's important to hear from different voices and different people and how people did it differently. But then you also have to have a bunch of guys that can put their egos aside and say, ‘Now that we have all these ideas on the table, we all have to come to the conclusion of what’s the best one and how are we going to do it,’ and that's hard. Because when you're interviewing guys at this level, I mean, everybody has a background. Everybody has a resume. Everybody has coached at a lot of different places and they're certainly more than qualified. But the biggest thing for me is making sure, and it's not a tangible thing, were they the right fit. I think that's kind of I don't know if it goes unnoticed, but it's been a really big plus for us, I think. Because the players learn from the coaching staff. If your coaching staff has a bunch of egos on it and they're all acting in different ways, how can you not expect your players to act the same way? They're going to emulate the people that are teaching them. So the biggest thing for us was to get a bunch of guys that really didn't have egos, that were very intelligent, that were great communicators and say, ‘Hey, as a group collectively, let's figure out a way to get this thing done.’ So far, it's been great. We've got a bunch of guys that I think have all made the next person  the person next to them better. I think when you can say that every signle day that that guy next to me, you don't always have to be the smartest guy in the room because there are a lot of smart guys in that room. But to be able to have the ego to say, 'That's a good idea. I'm going to listen to it.' And at the end of the day, who cares whose idea it is? It's our idea when we walk out of this room. We have a bunch of guys that do that. That's what makes working here a lot of fun every single day.

You mentioned you don't require coaches to be here late at night when you're breaking down film. What is your philosophy behind that and not overworking these guys?

CHIP KELLY: My philosophy is you have a job, do it. If I have to watch what time you get in in the morning and watch what time you go home at night, then I hired the wrong person. I think you have to empower the people that work for you. I think you have to empower them to do what they were selected to do. If someone watching over you and making sure they know what time you get in here in the morning and making sure they know what time you left here at night, I don't think that's what  we're in professional football. If you have to worry about that  I've never asked that. I never did it when I was in college. Get your work done. You've got a bunch of guys that love it. You have more guys that you have to tell to go home than you do to say, ‘Hey, be around here.’ So if you wake up at 3:55 in the morning and you want to come into work, come into work.
But I've never encountered that. I had an unbelievable staff at Oregon that was special. I've been fortunate here that it’s the same exact way. I have a bunch of guys that love football, love working and we get along really well.

Can you talk about the NFL taking over a four win team the first year in the NFL, did you expect more growing pains than you had? Or did you have fewer growing pains than you expected?

CHIP KELLY: I really didn't have any preconceived expectations. A lot of it every day was like that was interesting. Didn't know that was going to happen. Kind of take it as it comes. We don't have a set ‘we have to get to this or we have to get to that.’ It's do we see improvement? Are we getting better? Do we continually make the same mistakes, things like that that I think are for me what you can see from a growth standpoint. That's what I don't see.
I see our guys, if we make a mistake, we correct it, we get better and we improve. That is the mark of an organization that is going in the right direction. That is the positive things we gained out of it. I didn't have any preconceived notions or numbers or anything like that that they were this before or they were that. It was a clean slate with everybody coming in here. Let's move forward as a group and see how we can improve every day.

What is the coaching schedule for the bye week? Scouting?

CHIP KELLY: Yeah, we have a lot of work to do. We're here through Wednesday, and then they've got Thursday and Friday off and Saturday and Sunday. I'd imagine some guys will be around Thursday and Friday, but we're done formally meeting on Wednesday.

Chip, yesterday you said you guys are going to be playing meaningful games in December. Was there a time two or three weeks ago where you guys lost those two games that you thought that was possible that these games would have the meaning?

CHIP KELLY: Yeah, we always thought it was possible. But it didn't matter unless you do it. There was never a point in time where we're like we're not going to play meaningful games in December. The only reason I'm talking about playing meaningful games in December is our next game is in December. I'm always talking about the next game. So we played December 1st, and it's a pretty meaningful game.

Bills LB Kiko Alonso has been a big story in Buffalo. You had to manage him through some tough situations, what was that experience like and do you take extra pride in a guy doing that well?

CHIP KELLY: I take extra pride that I had an opportunity to coach Kiko. He's awesome. I think everything that people are seeing in Buffalo is what I've known about him all along is that [he’s an] extremely dedicated, driven person both academically and athletically. He was a great student too. Over a 3.0 student. He made a couple missteps early in his career and really changed. I think he understood the opportunities that he has in front of them and everything that that is happening to him now, I don't know if it surprises other people, it doesn't surprise me.
Kiko is a special player. When you watch him on film, it's Kiko see ball, Kiko tackle ball. We saw that at Oregon a lot. I think people in Buffalo are seeing that right now.

Following up on an earlier question. When you were at Oregon, your offense seemed to go with multiple quarterbacks in there, with Michael Vick the offense had success and with Nick Foles it’s had success. So do you consider this system a quarterback-friendly system? Is that a fair way to depict it?

CHIP KELLY: It depends on what game you're asking about.

Generally speaking?

CHIP KELLY: Generally speaking, I would say nine times this year, yes. Two times this year, no.

Nick Foles, I mean, obviously this isn't fantasy football. But the number that's he's putting up  

CHIP KELLY: I was talking about the yardage point.

But especially in terms of passer rating, how do you determine that? That is some pretty elite company that he's in.

CHIP KELLY: Big thing for me with our quarterbacks is wins number one and interceptions number two. He's been really good at both of those. So some of those were attempts and all that other stuff. Because a lot of times the quarterback and attempts and all of that depend on who is calling the plays. He can't throw it where you're not calling it. I think part of that. But when you have a guy that's consistently not putting the ball up for the other team and serving it up, we're plus ten in the six games we've won, and I think we're minus six or minus seven or minus eight in the games we've lost. That is a direct correlation. There’s a direct correlation between the turnover game. That is the biggest thing for me. So I don't really look at anything that gets over a hundred it skews me. I don't know how you hit like a 132. I know the higher the number, the better. But the biggest thing for us is are we winning? And we’ve won with Nick. He's not turning the ball over, and that's huge for us.

Across the board, where does this team need to improving?

CHIP KELLY: I'm not being facetious, but across the board, everywhere. That is the thing. Our guys understand that too. I think we left a lot of the points on the board the other day. We need to do a better job finishing out the game. We finished out the game in Tampa Bay, finished out the Green Bay game. Did not finish out the game yesterday. Four minute offense, which we thought was good the week before was not very good this past week. We need to do a better job in terms of overall finishing people off when we have leads and making sure that even if we do go for it on 4th-and-1 and don't convert in that situation, that when our defense goes on the field, it's not a one-play score. We make them drive the field and work the clock from that standpoint. We have a whole lot, coaches, players and everybody that we need to continue to work on. So we're a ways away. But we're in a position where we're a ways away and we can continue to get better that hopefully it will pay off for us.

The 4th-and-1 play is an example of being aggressive, do you feel like you've got your foot to the pedal when you're up big like that? Or was that kind of what you were used to at Oregon when you had to do that?

CHIP KELLY: I didn't think we – number one, we were on the 38 yard line, so we weren't going to kick a field goal in that situation. I felt at the time if we could get another first down there, that would have been huge for us. We had just come off  we had a 13 play drive for a touchdown in the third quarter, so we had proven we could consistently move the football, and we were just half-a-yard short on the pass play to LeSean [McCoy]. Thought we could go with it really quick and try to get one in there. I'll give them credit. [Redskins LB London] Fletcher made a great play standing Bryce [Brown] up in the hold and made the tackle and we didn't convert. I think part of that, we've got to convert offensively, but we also can't let them go one play and score a touchdown defensively. It's a combination of both.

But when I am making decisions like that, a lot of it is dependent on how our defense is playing too. I'm not afraid to put our defense on the field in that situation.

What about putting teams away? Is that something that's going to take time?

CHIP KELLY: If we had gotten the first down, we may have put them away. I know we're trying to do it, but we're not there yet. That is the point about, what do we need to improve on? When we have an opportunity to put people away, we have to put them away, and we didn't do that.

Bill Polian said before the season that the biggest adjustment for a college coach coming from the NFL is the length of the season. But at this point right now where you play 11, 12 games, at the college level you're done except for the bowl game, whereas in this league the hard part is just starting. How do you feel right now? Did you have to take a different approach for a longer season mentally, emotionally?

CHIP KELLY: I understand what [Polian] is saying, there is a point to it. But my schedule, the day the season was over was a lot worse than my schedule here because, you know, you're planes, trains and automobiles recruiting from Sunday night until Friday afternoon and hustling back and practicing, getting a practice in Friday afternoon, practice Saturday, practice Sunday, get back on a plane and fly around the country chasing down recruits. So it wasn't, I think, maybe a misconception is when you're a college coach and the last game is done and then the bowl game comes, you don't have a month off. I would argue my schedule was more hectic from a recruiting standpoint than it was here. So I'm looking forward to being in the office every day and watching tape. That is the fun part of our job.

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