What is the benefit to working outside this time of year and get a day out here?
COACH KELLY: It's really beneficial. We'll be playing outside. But it looks like the next couple days will be nice, so we'll get out, get some good work. We'd rather be outside all things considered, it would be our preference. So, again, especially this time in the northeast it's dictated by weather, but it's good to get out here today.
The past three times you've spoken to us, you referenced the team after going 3-5 and their approach that week. What resonated with you about that week in particular?
COACH KELLY: Just their consistency in terms of how they approached it. That they don't really pay attention to outside noise or whatever, just they came to work every day, and the same way they came to work when we first got here, and the same way they came to work this week.
Any update on
COACH KELLY: He's been cleared to practice, so we should be good to go.
When the season started, the expectations for the fans in this city probably weren't that high. First year as a coach, and the team had not played well the last couple years. But where you're at at this point right now, is anything but making the playoffs a failure in your mind?
COACH KELLY: I don't look at it from the standpoint of what the expectations were before, what the expectations are. We prepare each week to win a football game. That's our job and that's what we do.
How has preparing with
COACH KELLY: It hasn't changed at all. We do the same exact things. We meet the same way. Every week our game plan is dictated in terms of what the other team does and what we're going to try to get accomplished. But we didn't change what we do when Mike's [Vick] in there and Nick's in there. Nick's had the ability to orchestrate this offense when we're in there, and that's what we do.
14 weeks into the season,
COACH KELLY: Really, just the one thing that stands out is he's such a great effort player and causes a lot of problems, I think when you've got a guy that will always ‑‑ just never seems like he stops. I think some of the things we didn't know about him, his ability to drop. Really with the experience and the practice that we've gotten and the games we've gotten, I think he's done a really nice job with that. I'm really happy with how he's played and what he's done since we got here.
A lot of the talk about Chicago is about their wide receives. But Matt Forte is leading the league in touches. How balanced is their attack?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, that is a tough thing to defend when you have a team like that because you have an outstanding running back, but they have two outstanding receivers. Sometimes when you play some teams, can you slant things one way or another and say, hey, we need to stop this. But I think that's the one thing about them that sticks out is that they're so multiple in terms of their talent at wide receiver, at tight end and running back, it makes it tough. You can't say, hey, if we stop this one guy, we'll be in good shape because the other guy's going to hurt you.
What about Forte can hurt you?
COACH KELLY: He's such a multi-dimensional player, he can do everything. He's maybe as good a running back as there is in pass protection. He's a mismatch at times in the passing game, depending on who you match up with him, and he's a big, physical presence when he's running the football.
14 games in, is there anything that surprised you about the difference from the college game to the NFL?
COACH KELLY: No, I had a good understanding of what the league was all about, was prepared for it. I think the difference between the college and the pros is that every single week is a challenge. You can look at some of the games you've played in college and you may hype them up that way. But in the back of your mind, you know what the outcome of the game will be before it's played because there is such a big discrepancy. In this league, there is no discrepancy. You've got to come to play every week. The team that executes the best usually ends up the team that's on top. But in terms of a surprise, nothing that's really come out that's been like, well, I didn't think that was ever going to be that way.
How do you think that the schedule on Sunday will play out in the sense that you'll obviously know what the Cowboys do by the time you take the field. I'm guessing you guys could watch that game if they so chose. What do you think that dynamic will be like?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, it is what it is. They play before we play. Again, I've always been ‑‑ we control what we control, and what we control is how we play against Chicago, not what goes on anywhere else. We're still in a situation where if we control what the outcome is, then that's the way we'll always be. We're not going to say don't watch the game or don't pay attention to the scores, if it happens, it happens.
There could be a potential where if you win you're definitely in the playoffs. Do you see an uptick or extra intensity from the guys?
COACH KELLY: We haven't talked about anything like that. We just talked about playing Chicago and preparing well enough to beat them.
You had two punters in training camp and only one kicker. Can you explain the decision behind that?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, you're limited in how many guys you can bring to camp. So I didn't know a lot about Donnie [Jones] just because Donnie was new. We felt like from a personnel standpoint and in terms of scouting, we thought Brad [Wing] potentially would be a really good punter in the NFL, so we were going to bring him in here and take a look at him. You'd like to have multiple guys at each position to do that. If you are, you're short changed at other positions.
You were confident in
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we were confident in Alex. That's part of it. He's proven he can kick in this league.
There is a woman down the shore that sent you a device that you use on the sidelines for signal calling. What were your thoughts immediately when you were looking at it?
COACH KELLY: That this could help us.
You guys are professionals here. You do what you do. So to have someone off the street in a sense, a fan just send you something ‑‑
COACH KELLY: Yeah, if they send us something that's going to work, we're going to use it. I think can you learn from any person in this world, and I think if your mind is so closed that you're going to say, ‘We've got all the answers,’ then shame on you. But I opened it. It looked like a good suggestion, so we used it.
What you were saying about not having those kind of bye weeks, those 56‑0 weeks in the NFL, do you like that? Do you like the fact that you have to be on your toes every week as a coach, as a team?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think anybody that's a true competitor likes that. I think that's what this deal is all about. You don't want anything handed to you. You want the opportunity to go out and compete each day. That is the one thing to me that was attractive about the NFL. You play more games. You have more chances to compete. It’s always about the competition. If you ask any coach, the fun part’s the games. The fact that you get more games and the quality of the competition every single week is just going to test you. I think we all enjoy that.
It was considered a very good tight end class, and a lot of people felt that Tyler Eifert was the top guy and then after that, it was your cup of tea. Your knowledge of
COACH KELLY: My knowledge of Zach is we coached against him. I never coached him or had him on my team or any of that. I coached against [Joseph] Fauria, the tight end from UCLA that’s at Detroit right now. I didn't look at it that way.
Ertz has been making big plays, obviously, the touchdown? Is that in the back of your head?
COACH KELLY: No, because I watch everything. I don’t say, ‘Hey, let's take this guy because I saw him make a big play.’ If I turned someone's tape on -- I watched Eifert make a ton of big plays when we evaluated him on film. I don't look at it that way.You’re second to last in red zone efficiency. Do you look at the numbers, 22 of 48, and think that there is a problem here? Do you feel like it's just an isolated thing?
COACH KELLY: We look at everything. If you're not a hundred percent, then you're not doing it right. That is the way we've always approached it. So if you're not stopping them when they get in the red zone and not converting touchdowns every time they get in the red zone, you analyze it. There is never a point where you say, ‘Hey, we're good. Let's not worry about the red zone.’ We’re going to practice it and work on it, and there are a lot of different things that go into some of the statistics. We don't get caught up in how many times you take a knee down there and some of those other things. Every time you don’t score a touchdown down there, we're disappointed and we need to correct that.
All the practice inside, were you able to do as much special teams work as you would like?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we do everything.
Are you limited at all in what you do with special teams?
COACH KELLY: We can't kick the ball through the ceiling, but besides that, that's it. But a lot of times, we don't kick even on Wednesday out here because we're not kicking Alex [Henery] every day. If we're doing kickoff return work, a lot of times we're just using a JUGS machine to kick off. It's really no different. We can get everything accomplished in there we need to get accomplished.
How much better is it to practice outside for the pooch kicks?
COACH KELLY: There is no difference.
COACH KELLY: No. I mean, every single day last week, Alex went outside and kicked. It wasn't like he didn't kick last week. So that's what I mean when there is no difference. Alex came outside every day last week. [Jon] Dorenbos came outside every day last week, and Donnie [Jones] came outside every day last week. So there is no difference in terms of us executing it. People think we didn't practice, that Alex didn't get a chance to practice kicking last week. He practiced every day last week.
Given that you do control your own destiny now --
COACH KELLY: You know you can't control destiny? Destiny is a predetermined set of events, therefore if it's predetermined, you can't control it.
You can control whether you make the playoffs.
COACH KELLY: There you go.
Would it be a huge disappointment if you don't get in?
COACH KELLY: I don't think of it that way. If we lose to anybody, it's a huge disappointment to me. That is the way I've always approached it. I don't look at it as if we were to win one game and lose another, well, that game won and got us in. If we don't win every game we prepare to play, I'm disappointed.
Talk about evaluating what the season is about, is making the playoffs a huge deal?
COACH KELLY: Every game we play is a huge deal.
You've always talked about having character guys. You gave Kyle Long a second chance. Why? What did you see in him?
COACH KELLY: Because I think Kyle, when you met him and you understood what he had been through and he explained his story to you, I think he had learned a very, very valuable lesson. I think he was on the road to working his way out of that. That is what impressed me with Kyle as a person. That is why I admire Kyle in terms of what he's been able to accomplish since then.
He made a mistake. He admitted his mistake, and he's done everything in his life to correct that mistake. He should be commended for that. A lot of people in his situation could have [said], ‘Woe is me, and I've been dealt a really tough set of cards.’ I think he owned up to everything that he did, and I'm really proud of him.
There are veteran coaches, including two in your division at this point right now, that have teams that are out of it. As a first-year NFL coach, can you take half a step back and say, ‘It's kind of cool that we're in this this late in the season and we can still win this division?’
COACH KELLY: No, I think if you ask every coach in this league, we're not wired that way. When this thing’s all done, there’s only going to be one guy that is happy and there’s going to be 31 other guys that are disappointed.