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Game Vs. Patriots: Head Coach Chip Kelly

Q: The decision to use Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner so much today and not as much of DeMarco Murray, what went into that?

CK: Some of the matchups with the linebackers. We felt like it's as big a group of linebackers as you're going to face. As the game expressed itself we were just trying to go with a hot hand, and we used all three [running backs]. DeMarco had a big run in the inside zone in the red zone there that drive – that 13-play drive – we had a big run on that. We just thought we were going to use all three today and we needed all three. When you've got [Jamie Collins] and [Rob Ninkovich] and guys, it's as big a linebacker crew as you're going to face, so sometimes those smaller, quicker guys can cause some problems in the matchup.

Q: How do you think Sproles did with the bulk of the carries?

CK: I thought Darren played really well on all phases and I think it's something you continue to see out of him. We see it every day in training and it's on us as a staff – we need to continue to get Darren involved in what we're doing because he cuts the field a little bit when now all of a sudden, we hadn't used him that much and people weren't doubling him, but when he was in there he was starting to create some attention and opened some other guys up.

Q: It's not easy winning in this place and after things have gone down the last three games how proud are you of your football team to come in here after what had happened?

CK: I've always been proud of them. I told those guys that. I think that sometimes they don't see in them what I see in them. I know we have a good football team and I think they showed it today and they've shown it at other times during this season, and the last two weeks we didn't show it. That's what is disappointing for them. We got contributions. I thought defensively the pressure we got on the quarterback was instrumental today.  When you have a blocked kick for a touchdown, an interception return for a touchdown and punt return for a touchdown, it takes those things to win in this stadium against that coach and that quarterback.

Q: What was the difference in the defense today as opposed to the previous two weeks?

CK: I think we generated pressure and really those guys up front did a really good job. I think we had four sacks – I don't know how many times or hurries or hits on Tom – but that's what you have to do because he's so good. There were a couple times he shook us off and kept drives alive running and made some big plays there, but I thought the effort that our guys played with up front was really, really good and that's what we needed out of those guys.

Q: On the third-down throw to Riley Cooper… That was kind of a gutsy call not running it. What kind of play was it?

CK: We felt like we needed a first down. We could have run it and then you've got the appropriate time and where we are numbers wise and we were talking about all of that. We've got charts, we know what's there, but part of it is we felt like needed a first down and that was our best option on that play. We had run the naked play and actually thrown on first down and tried to run the naked play, and I thought [Sam Bradford] made a really good decision. It may have been close trying to throw it, but then if it's not there, keep the clock running. I think when you have a smart quarterback you trust him that he can do that. We ran on second down, obviously [you've] got the clock moving a little bit and then on third down our concept was that we've got to get a first down. I've got great faith and trust in Sam and I know he's got great faith and trust in his receivers and we cut a little mirrored route and he was going to the best side, and it was a big play by [Riley Cooper] and a big throw by Sam.

Q: What made the punt block work? Is that something you guys were seeing during the week?

CK: We always have a couple schemes going in there in terms of going to get them and the situation and the half dictated it. Them punting back to us and us catching it – we are probably not going to get anything generated out of that. I think it was 15 seconds, I think on the clock, so we are probably going to go after the punter in that situation and that was the rush we had practiced this week.

Q: Did that dropkick turn the game around a little bit?

CK: I wouldn't say that was the turning point, but I think it was another huge play by our special teams. You know when you play this team that they're going to tax you in a lot of different ways. They ran the reverse pass to [Tom Brady]. They did that, but I thought it was a great play by [Seyi Ajirotutu], a good reaction by him, but I think [Coach Dave Fipp] did a really good job with the special teams preparing them for a lot of different things they do on special teams and they challenge it from a special teams standpoint.

Q: What did Malcolm Jenkins show you today?

CK: I thought that it was a big, big job by [Malcolm Jenkins]. That interception was a real backbreaker. When you talk about turning good into great, you stop a team when they're in the red zone from scoring and I think anybody would have been happy with just the interception. 'Hey let's turn it over, they were driving, we've got to stop there.' But to be able to take it the distance and return it, I was really happy for him. He's worked a lot and I know sometimes he gets maligned, but we worked really hard on catching the football and he did a great job –looked it in the eyes to the tuck as we talk about all the time, but to work that into a score was a real big turning point in the game for us.

Q: What was so different about this game than the last two?

CK: The same thing I told them. I believe in them and that they're a really good football team. We played together as a group.

Q: Why did you play Jonathan Krause over Miles Austin?

CK: Krause is just a guy that has shown up in practice every single day and we felt like we wanted to give him an opportunity to play. 

Q: Brandon Graham spoke to Jeff Lurie and said something about him being fired up. Did Lurie speak to the team before the game or something?

CK: He talks to everybody before every game, so he's usually in the locker room and walks around to the players individually. He didn't give a speech or anything, but Jeff, he's as good an owner as I've ever been around. He really truly cares about the players and the coaches, and he always makes sure before every game – and I don't know if anybody knows this – he talks to every player before every game and he talks to every coach before every game. 

Q: What was the plan in the fourth quarter during the last drive when the Patriots had the ball and no timeouts?

CK: For them to drop it a couple times – a voodoo thing going. No, I just think you knew the distance they had to travel and there is a lot of short math you have to do. If the ball's completed in bounds, it takes about 16 seconds to get a clock off, so now you're just doing the math in your head. There's 52 seconds and if it's completed inbounds then you get the ball down in the high 30s, and if they complete another one inbounds – you're really trying to protect the sideline – that's the key. If they can just nickel and dime you and get the ball moving, they've got a shot, but you kind of knew where it was. If they complete the last one, even though it was fourth-and-10, they probably only would have had eight seconds on the clock if it was completed inbounds and then they have to throw for the end zone, so you're going to get in a clock situation, so we were just kind of playing the situation out. 

Q: Sam doesn't have a turnover since the Carolina game and it probably wasn't his fault. What has he shown you in terms of protecting the ball?

CK: Just growth. He's grown every game – that's why it was so unfortunate – I thought he was playing really well. I think his passer rating was 118 when he went down in the Miami game and you lose him for two games, but I think he is very smart with the football. That's why the two plays before we called naked on first down, but it's not like I'm worried about him just throwing the ball away and stopping the clock. I thought that's as good of a play, just kind of scrambling and getting himself up there to make it second-and-nine so the clock continues to run. We have great faith and great trust in him. He continues to grow because we are around each other. He's got eight or nine games underneath his belt, but I think you've seen improvement out of him. In this league turnovers are paramount and I think that's a big part of it when you've got a quarterback that's not going to go out there and turn the ball over.

Q: Is the playoff picture something you think about or discuss with the players at all?

CK: No. We're just talking about playing the next game and I've said it since – we'll pick our head up after the Giants game and see if we've played well enough to get in or not, but I think that's just wasted energy to talk about the playoff picture and what happens here and who wins here because there are so many different things going on. Everybody is bottled up. It seems like in the entire league there are a couple of teams that have played really well – nine or 10 wins – then there are a bunch of us that are kind of in the middle there. I just think it's wasted energy to talk about that when what we should be talking about is who our opponent is and let's prepare to play them.

Q: Do you think a win like this sends a message not only to your team, but kind of to the league?

CK: We get this question all the time. We were supposed to send a message after the Dallas game when we won down there on Sunday night. Every week in this league is a battle and you better prepare. You're going to get everybody's best and hopefully you can give your best and when you look at all that stuff – sending messages and all that – I think they make good stories but that's not what we're talking about.

Q: Eric Rowe looked like he held up against Brady. How huge was that?

CK: I thought Eric Rowe, for his first time, started the game because obviously losing [Nolan Carroll] who was key for us on defense and I thought Eric in his first time of extended play did a really nice job. They went after him, which we knew they were going to go after him, but I thought he battled and competed. They put the long bomb on him, there were a lot of things they tried, they ran a couple comebacks on him, running a few people off, but for the most part, I think Eric did a really nice job. It is good to see him start to develop that confidence because we as a staff have a ton of confidence in Eric to play.

Q: We spoke about Austin and Murray, but was there a conscious decision by you to shake things up just a little bit?

CK: No. We just talked about who's competing, who's playing and who gets an opportunity and every week is an evaluation. Every week you get an opportunity to show us what you can do. We brought Jonathan Krause in here for a reason and we felt like he was a really good player. We brought him up for a reason, too. It wasn't just to reward a guy, but when you watch him in practice and we see him as a staff, he can continue to do some really good things and I think he had one good catch, but it's really good when you have good competition.

Q: Knowing how seldom this team loses here and what they've accomplished over the years, is there a greater sense of satisfaction maybe than other wins?

CK: No. Obviously, we're very aware of it. You've got a first-ballot Hall of Fame coach and a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback and maybe the best quarterback to ever play in this game, so you're aware of that. His record here is off the charts. It's like 100 to three losses or something. I'm not even exaggerating. I think it's something like that. It's unbelievable. It's in the 90 percent, so we're aware of that. I guess we always have the mindset – we won. If you spend too much time patting yourself on the back — we're going to play a really good Buffalo team here – I think they won today – so there's always the next challenge and the next step. I am really proud of how our players played and I think that's the most important thing I took away from today. 

Q: When you play like this are you almost surprised the way the football team played against the Buccaneers when you see them go out and do what they did here against Brady and Belichick? 

CK: I'm not surprised at anything. I say that all the time. You better, every single day, come to work in this league. If not, things can happen and usually they're bad things, so I think our players did what I told them and I told them when I saw that last Tuesday. I know we have a really good football team. When we put everything together as a group and everybody plays hard and gives everything and plays with an edge, we can be a good football team. 

Q: How many times has that specific punt block play worked for you this year or in your career?

CK: We blocked a couple punts last year. In San Francisco we had a punt block and I think in the Titans game at home we had a punt block – we've had a few – up at the Giants we had a punt block. They all have had their individual wrinkles in terms of who're you're playing and from a protection standpoint. I don't know if that particular scheme that we ran today is something that we ran in those other games. We've blocked a few the last couple of years.

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