COACH KELLY: Tomorrow's Wednesday. Wednesday's Thursday, Thursday's Friday, Friday's Saturday, Saturday's Sunday. So just subtract a day.
COACH KELLY: Part of being a spread offense is you can spread the field, and he certainly warrants the attention that he's getting. He had a couple big first downs for us on a couple shallow crossing routes. But the fact that they have to defend everybody is part of the premise of what we do offensively, and when you have a weapon like him on the outside, and [Eagles WR] Riley [Cooper] on the other side; Riley had some big, big catches for us on big routes and those two guys I think complement. And if your running game is working the way it's working and they single you outside, then you need to make them play when they are paying in single coverage and those guys did a good job of that.
COACH KELLY: He's the last option.
Big picture perspective, how did this team get from 3 5 to 10 6?
COACH KELLY: I think they stuck together as a group and one of the things we talk about, really, the only thing we talk about is we are mentally and physically tough and we don't make excuses and we work hard and they stuck to that. When you're 3 5 and you have a plan, there's times when you are 3 5 and you can start to question the plan and these guys didn't question the plan. You know, I think when we made mistakes, we all made mistakes but we owned our mistakes. And I think when you own up to your mistakes, then you can correct them. But if you never make them and you constantly make excuses, then you're never going to fix it. I think these guys owned up to it and did that, and I think each week, I saw us improve because of that. I think because of their mentality and that they stuck together as a group and knew that the only group that was going to get us out of that situation was them, and when you start pointing fingers and doing those other things, it makes it extremely difficult but they never did that.
COACH KELLY: I think he's really underrated, and the thing about this team is it is a team, and that victory yesterday, I think kind of amplified it. It was offense, defense and special teams and that punt was huge for us. And I think [Eagles K]
When you watch the tape, what were some of the reasons in the second half the passing game wasn't maybe as effective as it was early on?
COACH KELLY: They did a decent job generating the pass rush on a couple things and there were a few times down the field where we just couldn't get off of some jams. It was a combination of the two things.
Did they blitz much in the second half?
COACH KELLY: No, they were pretty consistent. Pretty consistent in his approach to what he did in the first half and the second half was pretty much a consistent model from what he was using.
On the plays where Nick had held the ball in some of those situations, were you happy with the decisions?
COACH KELLY: Well, obviously you would rather take a sack than an interception. He does a good job of protecting the football. And again, it's a combination of their rush, and our ability to protect it but then also our ability to get off on some of the things that were going on downfield.
After Nick fumbled the ball to hold them to a field goal --
COACH KELLY: Huge. That's a positive. That's one of the things we talk about, response after a turnover when we give the ball up in the red zone; if our defense can go on the field and hold them to three instead of seven, we think of that as a victory. And I think how our defense responded in that situation really was the difference in the football game.
Scoring a touchdown, the crowd is going crazy, is that how you saw it?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, and that's what we need in that situation, and we did kind of an uncharacteristic thing for us in turning the ball over but now, again, I've always said response after turnover is a huge thing. The response after a turnover from a defensive standpoint is to go out and hold them to three, not seven, and that's what they did.
When you were an outsider looking at the NFL Playoffs, were you ever amazed with the last team standing? Been a long time since the best team in this league in the regular season has won the Super Bowl. Were you amazed at who was left standing?
COACH KELLY: I never really looked at it when I was in college. I mean, we watched the games when we had time if we were not having recruiting weekends and things like that but I never really studied it.
Your pass rush, are you happy with the way they are? Seems like they had some great games and some games where they just haven't gotten there?
COACH KELLY: Just depends on who you're playing and I think a lot of times when they are getting the ball as fast as they are getting the ball out – but when they are getting the ball out and it's for a two or three yard gain and we are tackling them – obviously you are forcing them to get the ball out quickly. But then we are rallying up and making tackles. I think it's working. If we are not getting to them and they are getting big chunks down the field, then I think that becomes a bigger issue.
Now that you're actually playing football in January, how does it feel?
COACH KELLY: I played football in January in college.
I know, in the NFL --
COACH KELLY: Four straight years in a row we did.
In the NFL, how does it feel?
COACH KELLY: It's the same. It doesn't feel any different and it's the same. And I think that's the good thing about our group and our staff is we have had the same mind set for a long time now on a weekly basis. Our week doesn't change. The only thing it is, is we're a day short, so our Tuesday is a Wednesday and that's the only real adjustment we made. But it shouldn't feel any different. I think you have to change you can't be like, ‘Oh my God, now we are in the playoffs and we've got to do this.’ I think that's really not our mind set. It's, we have got a really, really good Saints team coming in here and we have to prepare the heck out of our guys and play a big game on Saturday night.
I know you have another game that you're preparing for but have you had a moment to reflect on what this team has already accomplished just making the playoffs?
COACH KELLY: No, I mean, that's not not how we are built or wired. It's what's the next challenge and what's the next opportunity, and the great thing about where we are right now is if you win, you get to play again. So I think if you get caught up looking back at what happened or where you were, I think that's just not how we're wired.
What are some of the things your guys did last night that you definitely cannot do on Saturday if you want to continue to advance?
COACH KELLY: Fumble the ball.
Seems like they had a lot of success, their passing game was that a product of you guys allowing them to have that or were they taking advantage of the blitz?
COACH KELLY: Depends on the situations. I'd have to answer a specific play, what we were in, what were we trying to do and what was the deal on that. There's not I know you asked the question the way you did but I couldn't give you one answer, could have been one route, we were blitzing and missed on a cross route or another one where we were playing zone and letting the ball being thrown in front of us. There are a lot of different instances where that happened.
Is there a concern --
COACH KELLY: I thought overall our defense played really well.
You have Saints TE Jimmy Graham coming up this week, how does that bode for him? Are you going to have to look at what you can do there?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, it's obviously you've got to look at where you are and how you match up with people, but the first game we played them Witten caught one pass I think. Credit to him, he's as good a tight end that ever played and obviously we know the challenge with Jimmy Graham coming in here is you've got another huge challenge for you, but I'm confident in [Eagles defensive coordinator] Billy [Davis] and our defensive staff will have a plan together for him.
I know you focus on the week to week but if you step back are you able to get a sense of what it means to the fans and franchise to be back in the playoffs after not making it for a couple years?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I wasn't here before. So I know how excited the fans are. There were some people that came out to the airport last night. And we came right from the airport to work, so when I drove in here at 4:30, there were some people out front. So I think it's awesome. I think in the best way we can play them back is we get an opportunity to play a home game in front of them. We have a shot at playing again in front of our crowd. They were awesome when we played the Bears. They were unbelievable when we played the Lions and I think that will be a fun thing for all of us getting a chance to get back in front of our fans.
The four guys that have been here the longest, did they talk about getting that chance to be back in the playoffs again; did you sense anything from them in the week leading up or to that game watching anything from them that you could tell?
COACH KELLY: No, the one thing about them is they are just so meticulous in their preparation every week that that's why they have been around so long; that it's not, ‘Hey, I'm getting towards the end of my career, now I've really got to concentrate.’ If that's the case, you probably wouldn't have a long career. I just think that the game [Eagles WR] Jason [Avant] played last night was outstanding. Just how integral Jason was to us and what he did and did an unbelievable job in the run game for us last night and I think that goes underappreciated but that catch he had down the sideline was huge; the diving catch [Eagles TE] Brent [Celek] made, I think when you have got guys like that that are the veterans of your group and they are doing that stuff in games and making big time plays, I think that bodes well for your team.
Is it rare that you didn't have to you came in, you didn't have to totally rework a team that only won four games and they all bought in, for a new coach, that doesn't happen. They all bought into what you were selling is that a rare thing for a group like this?
COACH KELLY: I understand the question. I don't know. I mean, it's only the first time I've ever done it. We are 1 for 1, so.
Did it seem they have some sort of quality it doesn't happen that often in the NFL?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I understand that, and I think I said it to those guys last night after the game. But it was evident to me on April 1 when I got here with these guys and got a chance to be with them for the first day that they were kind of the mind set, whatever it takes, what do you want us to do and where do we got to be and how are we going to do it, and I think that's a credit to them and I think that's why we are where we are, because they are the ones that play. They are the ones that go out there every single day. They are the ones that train. They are the ones that have done everything as a staff that we have asked them to do and the results are everything that they put into, and that's the great thing about this game is that you can't fake football. You get out of it exactly what you put into it and these guys put in an unbelievable effort and it's paying off for them on the field.
As a follow up to the schedule question, there's a reason that the players say that Tuesday is a Tuesday and Saturday is a Saturday, so how do you compensate for that?
COACH KELLY: You don't. That's how the cards were drawn. We get off the field and they tell us we are playing Saturday. We can't call a timeout and say, ‘You know, we need an extra day.’ But the team you're playing is in the exact same situation, so no one gains an advantage. It's just like the Tuesday is a Tuesday and Wednesday is a Wednesday, except if you play a game on a Thursday. So we have a plan for a short week; we have a plan for a long week; we have a plan for a bye week. So we had a plan in place and we knew there was a chance we were going to play on Saturday. If there's a chance to play on Saturday's we're going to play.
Did you take anything away from the Kansas City in terms of the day to day the short weeks?
COACH KELLY: I'm confused
The short weeks, Kansas City --
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we condensed the schedule in those weeks.
Do you have any advantage because you practiced Tuesday the entire season and the team you're playing has not?
COACH KELLY: I don't know. I mean, I don't know what how [Saints head coach] Sean [Payton] does it down there. I don't look at that or think of that.
It seems like LB
COACH KELLY: No, I think Mychal has played really well all year long, and I think sometimes a ball bounces your way in certain times but he's come up with some critical turnovers for us this season at junctures where we really needed it. And that's what we kind of learned as a group to expect out of Mychal is I think he's really developing as a football player and played really well last night.
Is there an art to quarterback grounding the ball at a player's feet so he can avoid a sack? Nick did it a number of times last night, one time seemed kind of close when he got called for grounding but what's involved in that for a quarterback?
COACH KELLY: I don't know if it's an art but I know I know Billy [Davis] works on it with those guys in terms of you just don't want to make a bad play worse. And if for one reason or another, they have got the right answer for it defensively, sometimes the best play is you'd rather be second and 10 than to take a sack and be second and 18. Sometimes your best option is to throw away and it's something we work on, and we'll continue to drill with them. That is what the really, really good quarterbacks do. It's one of the things that I think [Broncos QB] Peyton Manning is very underrated from that standpoint is what a great job he does; if the play is not there, where he just throws it away and then just plays the next snap and immediately moves on to the next play.
The offense for a long stretch in the second half last night, is there anything after you watched, that you say, this is why, watching the tape?
COACH KELLY: Not in general. There are specific instances, tackle may have stepped in the wrong direction, back didn't hit the hole at the right time, receiver didn't get off the jam properly. There's not one thing that that's, a ha, fix it and move on. It was just a combination of not all 11 guys clicking on the same team.
That's a loud crowd and that's a huge place; is any of it due to that?
COACH KELLY: No, we didn't have any sound issues at all. We didn't have any false start issues, no.
Nick's performance, he took five sacks, were the guys just not getting open off the line? Was he holding it too long?
COACH KELLY: A combination of both. Depends on which play you're talking about. Sometimes there was a guy open, he probably could have gotten it out of his hand a little quicker. There were some other times where he's waiting for guys to get open and they didn't come out of the jam and we got caught once on the first or second play of the second half with a blitz that LeSean [McCoy] got stuck inside running into the twist on the D Line but didn't come off on the linebacker. So a combination.
What's your assessment of S
COACH KELLY: I think Pat's done some good things. There were some plays he probably wants to do a little bit better but I think Pat's done some really good things for us.
When you look at the NFL Playoffs this weekend, both of the home teams have a worse record than the wild card teams that you're playing. Do you think it's a good thing that the NFL rewards winning in a division more so than having more wins?
COACH KELLY: I don't care. I'm just happy that we're home.
The Saints are viewed as almost like two different teams on the road and home, they are 8 0 at home and 3 5 on the road. How do you look at that?
COACH KELLY: Tampa Bay didn't win a game in cold weather until they came in here and did it, so we are not going to get really caught up in that one, I can tell you that.
How close is
COACH KELLY: I don't get into close. He either goes or he doesn't go. So if they said he couldn't go, he couldn't go.
What is the challenge with New Orleans and Drew Brees? Obviously their offense, they do a lot of things, and that's probably fun to kind of watch that a little bit. Can you talk about that?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, the challenge is Drew Brees. I mean, he's just so talented and has such a great command of what they are doing. You've got five guys in a progression, he can go from one to five like that (snapping fingers). He understands coverage and he understands how you're playing them and he’s very, very difficult to fool. He's been around for a long time. It's a lot like the matchup when you're playing Peyton Manning. They are so skilled in their offense and what they are doing, you've got to present a lot of different looks to him and he's got a lot of weapons to throw to, and I think that's what makes them so diverse is you just can't hone in and say, ‘Hey, we take away this one guy, we are going to be in pretty good shape.’ There are so many different weapons there. You have a guy there that makes all five weapons available to them so I think that's going to be a huge challenge.
Does that help neutralize that they are really good at home, the Saints on the road, can crowd noise disrupt --
COACH KELLY: I don't know. Not when you have a guy, a Hall of Fame quarterback like that. I don't think I don't think that part really weighs into it with him.
You talk about you'll give up the short passes as long as you tackle and you guys have tackled really well most of the year. Was yesterday maybe not up to the level as far as tackling?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we missed a couple but you're talking some big, strong guys and I think that's a combination. There's not many receivers that you're going to face that are like [Cowboys WR] Dez [Bryant] and sometimes people don't like to say, but you have to give the other guys credit, too. He's a tough, physical wide receiver that's very, very difficult to take down on one on one situations.
The high school in Austin, Texas going back to your college days, were you familiar with that program?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, outstanding, outstanding program, and it's one of the top ones in Texas. So I'm familiar with it. But we never recruited anybody we were never involved with anybody out of there. I mean, I think I was at New Hampshire when Drew was coming out and I don't think New Hampshire was on his wish list at that point in time.
You have a few rookies playing key roles down the stretch for you. How are they holding up and what's the challenge of keeping them kind of mentally fresh as far as physically as they get to this point in the year?
COACH KELLY: I think physically they are fine. Our guys do a great job in the training room and in the weight room of monitoring those guys in terms of where they are. I think for those guys, it's just for some of those guys, we play 20 games now, when you count the four preseason games. But I've been really impressed especially with [Eagles T] Lane [Johnson], [Eagles TE] Zach [Ertz] and [Eagles DT] Bennie [Logan] with how they have not really acted like rookies. I think they have kind of fallen into that role, I think 20 games in, and the reality is with 20 games in, they are not rookies any longer. I think those three guys specifically have really held up pretty well.
COACH KELLY: Obviously LeSean [McCoy] is our back but when you have Chris [Polk] that can spell him and then Bryce [Brown], and for me, as the play caller, it doesn't change, like, ‘Oh, he's in the game, I can't call this.’ It's, we don't miss a beat with what we do. I think LeSean has had a lot of carries and he's got a lot of touches but the ability to bring those two guys in to spell him when it's time, I think especially as a play caller, it's really comforting to know that, ‘Oh, he's in, I can't call this,’ and I've been in situations like that. ‘Well, who's in the game? All right, now what do we have to do, we have to kind of adjust our approach.’ That last drive specifically, you can tell from being on the field that they were gassed and we needed to kind of put the foot to the floor in that situation. The fact that Bryce was in there was of no decision of, ‘Hey, we can't run this play, we can't run that play, only play we can run with LeSean in there.’
COACH KELLY: He's been huge for us. I think [Casey] and and we felt that all along. And I think having three tight ends that are as versatile as they are, they are kind of all different, and in the ideal world, that's what we wanted. I think you don't want three guys that are exactly the same. I think you can do a lot of different things with the three of them but I think what James has added to us, especially here down the stretch, and we know in December, now going into January, you're going to have to run the football. I think James has been a big, big part of that.