Chip Kelly has always been billed as a brilliant offensive mind, but after the Eagles' 34-17 win Sunday, the head coach said it was his defense and his special teams he was most thrilled with.
The Eagles' defense allowed just 64 rushing yards on 25 attempts, an average of 2.6 yards per carry. His punter Donnie Jones pinned the Jaguars deep in their own territory a number of times, including once on their own 1-yard line. And his rookie kicker Cody Parkey nailed two field goals, including his first NFL attempt from 51 yards.
Yes, for all the talk of Kelly's excitable offense, the second-year head coach was left admiring his defense and special teams after Sunday's come-from-behind victory.
"I thought our defense did a really good job," Kelly said of coordinator Bill Davis's unit. "The first thing we talk about is stop the run, make them a one-dimensional team and force them into throwing it, and I think Brandon (Graham) and Trent (Cole) and all those guys really created some pressure on the quarterback."
In part, it was because they were called on first.
Quarterback Nick Foles completed just four passes in the first quarter for 46 yards and was sacked twice, and the Eagles were quickly in a 14-0 hole after one quarter. Foles wasn't happy with the way he played in the first quarter, and neither was Kelly.
"He was frustrated, I was frustrated, we all were frustrated - I even heard a few fans who were frustrated," Kelly joked after the game. "And they had every right. I was booing myself."
He also lost a pair of offensive linemen in right tackle Allen Barbre and left guard Evan Mathis to injury in the first half. David Molk and Andrew Gardner came in to replace the two linemen, and Kelly said he liked what he saw from the backups. But this wasn't the offense he had drawn up for Sunday, at least not yet.
On Sunday, the Eagles opened the 2014 regular season by hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars ...
So with his offense still shaking off the early-season rust, Kelly's defense and special teams units came up big time and time again. After allowing two touchdown passes on shortened fields, Davis' defense clamped down from the second quarter on, allowing just three points and 192 yards of offense after the rocky first quarter.
Cornerback Cary Williams said he thought the defensive effort, especially locking down the Jaguars when the game could have slipped away early in the second quarter, showed a sense of leadership from the unit.
"I think all the leaders understood that we were giving them everything they got," Williams said of the first quarter touchdowns the Eagles allowed. "We knew that 17 points was a reasonable point for us to come back and win the game on. We understood that our offense is explosive so we knew if we gave them the ball as muuch as we could then we could be right back in the game."
So that's exactly what Williams and the rest of the Eagles' defense did. And then in the second half, the brightest spot was Darren Sproles, whose 49-yard touchdown run on fourth down shifted the game's momentum.
"We got to a tight spot, down 17, where we felt like we had to go for it on fourth down," Kelly explained after the game, "and you don't think you're going to get a touchdown out of that.
"You're just trying to convert, keep the chains moving and you end up getting momentum to jump back on our side."
The defense had kept the Eagles in the game until the offense shrugged the rust off, and then the script of the first half was reversed. By the time the 34-17 score read final on the Lincoln Financial Field video board, the first quarter was a distant memory for Eagles fans. Everything had worked out fine.
Of course, this wasn't the way Kelly and his coaches had drawn it up.
"I told them after the game that at some point we're going to have to rely on everybody to win games," he said.
The Eagles will look for that ultimate team effort next Monday night against the Colts.