Q. When you watched the tape of the Seattle game, were you okay with RB LeSean McCoy's decision making?
COACH KELLY: I don't think anybody offensively played well. So, offensive line, running back, quarterback, wide outs, play caller, didn't have a good day. Q. You were asked earlier this week about some of the passes that QB Mark Sanchez threw short of the sticks. Were they the first reads or were they check downs?
COACH KELLY: No, they weren't. It depends on what we were doing. Some of them were crossing routes in man coverage, just trying to outrun the man coverage and trying to get the ball out the other side. A couple times – on the one in particular that we threw to Coop [WR Riley Cooper], the defensive back made a hell of a tackle and negated the gain. That's one of the things those guys do usually, they don't miss many tackles. But to beat them you're going to have to make guys miss tackles.
Q. On those types of plays, third downs specifically, are there 1 and 2 reads for the quarterback, or is there more of a 1 and a 1-A read?
COACH KELLY: Depends on the play call. Some are object-receiver reads, some are half-field reads, some are full-field reads, some are progression reads. It depends on what we have as a play call.
Q. The Heisman Trophy selection is on Friday night and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is a heavy favorite. How proud would you be if he wins?
COACH KELLY: I had nothing to do with Marcus' [development]. When he was a freshman, I remarked, 'This kid is going to win the Heisman.' He's a special young man and he's a hell of a football player and he deserves it. But I don't think it's any impact that I had. The type of kid that he is, he had an impact on everybody that had an opportunity to coach him. I'm sure [Oregon Head Coach] Mark Helfrich and [Oregon offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Scott Frost would tell you the same thing. He's just a special young man and very deserving of the award.
Q. What has impressed you the most about Mariota over the two years since you left Oregon?
COACH KELLY: I haven't had much time – I mean, I don't get a chance because their games are on so late. Sometimes I watch the first half and I fall asleep, so I haven't got a chance to watch a full body of work from him. But anything he does numbers wise and things like that don't surprise me. But I think it's how he handles himself, his demeanor and all of those things, that really kind of sets him apart. He's a special young man from that standpoint.
Q. You said when he was a freshman you felt that he could win the Heisman‑‑
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I said that when he was a freshman.
Q. How come you said that?
COACH KELLY: Because he's a special player. He's just got a gift for playing football. He's everything you want: he can throw the ball, he can run. He's the most talented kid that I coached in college.
Q. When you look at your offensive production the last two weeks, understanding that you have obviously faced different defenses, are there things that you can control that could make you have the kind of game you had two weeks ago against Dallas as opposed to the one you're coming off of last Sunday? Are there improvements you can make independent of the defense you are facing?
COACH KELLY: Very confusing question, I guess. We don't look at Seattle and then say, 'We have to do this to beat Dallas.' I mean, we are looking at beating Dallas. We don't look back, we look forward, I guess.
Q. When you look at your operation in those games, the things you didn't do this past Sunday that you did do the previous game that needs to get better ‑‑
COACH KELLY: I've said that before. A lot of that has to do with the defense that you played. You don't just get ‑‑ teams don't go out and have the opportunity to dictate what they want to do. There's obviously an opponent involved there.
Q. Seeing what happened when you played them last time, if the Cowboys really load up against the run this time, can Sanchez beat them throwing the ball?
COACH KELLY: I don't know. That's why I don't deal with hypotheticals. That's how we'll play the game out. Will they do that and will they challenge us from that standpoint? We'll see.
Q. You speak about meaningful December football. A lot of these guys were in the same position last year. Is there a benefit from having been through this last year?
COACH KELLY: Well, I think everybody is a byproduct of their experiences, so they have an opportunity to understand -- at least the group of guys that were around last year -- what this is like. And then some of the new guys, Malcolm [S Malcolm Jenkins] has played it; Darren [RB Darren Sproles] has played it; Mark has obviously played it and some of the new guys that we've brought in have been in those situations, too.
You're always a byproduct of your experiences and you hope that it benefits them and they understand what's at stake as you get down here to the last three games left.
Q. For you and the coaching staff, how does that experience benefit you?
COACH KELLY: We've been there before so we kind of understand. Again, even though that is it, it's still ‑‑ every game is meaningful because if you don't win nine games up until this point then you're not playing meaningful football in December. Q. When you evaluate free agents, how much do you factor in their previous playoff experience?
COACH KELLY: We factor in everything. You have to look at the body of work. There's nothing that we don't look at and we do take all of that into account.
Q. Speaking of Sproles, did you think at a certain points you would be able to put him and McCoy on the field together more often than you have?
COACH KELLY: No, because no one is a lead back in that situation. I think if anybody wants us to play a two‑back offense, my question is going would be, 'Who is going to block for who?' Obviously, Darren is not going to lead on a linebacker and if we have LeSean McCoy leading on a linebacker and he gets hurt, then shame on us as a coaching staff.
That's not their strength. Both of them play the same position; they are both halfbacks. So, you end up short a blocker in those situations. We have done some things with both of those guys in there at the same time, but to run a traditional two‑back offense with them, neither of them are suited to play that quote-unquote fullback role.
Q. Are there certain looks from a defense that would make it a good matchup to have both of them out there at the same time?
COACH KELLY: But we have had them both out there.
Q. Against 11-personnel, what determines whether you stay in base or go to man?
COACH KELLY: What they do in those down-and-distance situations. Some people in 11-personnel on first down are more run driven, so we may be in more base in those situations. Obviously, if they are more pass, you'll be in more nickel situations.
Sometimes you can look at it by just personnel and you can match up with people. Sometimes it's personnel plus down-and-distance situations.
Q. You shut down Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray and Cowboys QB Tony Romo last time. How much do you go back and look at that tape and say, 'Okay we did this and we can do this again to hopefully shut them down again.'
COACH KELLY: We don't go through that. We just go through kind of what they do and it's not about one individual player, it's about the team and defending them. I think if we put our sole focus and attention on Murray and Romo and not worry about [Cowboys WR Dez] Bryant and not worry about [Cowboys TE Jason] Witten and not worry about [Cowboys WR Terrance] Williams and the other guys, those guys are going to beat you because they are talented at other positions.
Do we go back and look at the old film? Yeah, we have studied our Thanksgiving Day game just as we studied the Bears game. So we are always looking at the last two games that those guys are playing. Q. Thirty games into this, what do you know about the quarterback position, and what it takes to thrive there, that you didn't know prior to coming to the NFL?
COACH KELLY: Nothing. I knew what it takes to win before I got here. You've got to have a really quarterback who is a good decision maker that puts yourself in position to make plays and to win. That's the same ‑‑
Q. What about the difference from college?
COACH KELLY: Who were the four best teams and how well are their quarterbacks playing? Usually that's kind of the same deal. That's the thing about [Ohio State Head Coach] Urban Meyer, I'll give him credit because he's lost his quarterbacks and they are still playing at a really high level. Florida State has Jameis Winston, and Oregon has got Marcus Mariota. Alabama's kid is playing lights out; Lane [offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Lane Kiffin] is doing a great job with him.
Usually there's a correlation. Very rarely is there a team in this game, in the game of football, very successful if they don't have a good quarterback and that goes right back to high school.
Q. The four NFL teams with 10 wins are quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and ‑‑
COACH KELLY: We may be on to something.
Q. You just said that every game is important, but does the relative importance of this particular game -- and this one has major playoff ramifications for both teams -- impact at all the decision making for that game? Or do you try to keep everything as ‑‑
COACH KELLY: No, because I would argue that they all do. So if we didn't beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1, then we only have eight wins and now we are in a lot tougher situation. And if we don't go in Week 2 and kick the field goal and win at the end of the game against the Indianapolis Colts, then we have seven wins and now we are really scrapping.
They all add up. I don't think ‑‑ it's just when you get to the end of the season, this game looks like it's magnified, but it's only magnified for us because of how many wins we have going up into this.
Q. But from a practical standpoint, if you win the game, it's a whole lot easier to get in the playoffs and have a chance at a championship, but if you don't. Some coaches might look at that and say, 'Okay, this creates a different set of circumstances.'
COACH KELLY: I've never met a coach like that. I don't think a coach ever goes in and says, 'This game doesn't have a real practical approach to us winning. We have a two‑game lead going into this, so we can take it easy this week because a win is important, but it's not that important.' I don't think I've ever met anybody that would ever say that.
I had the same question asked to me last year when we played the Chicago Bears and we knew going out before the game. Did that game impact us? What did we hang 50 [points] on them? I think our guys approach it the same way. We are going to play football and every week we get an opportunity and every game is extremely important to us and then when you leave it up to, 'Well, that game actually was important because when you come back to the fifth tiebreaker, that game ended up being the difference between you going to the playoffs and not going to go playoffs.' Any time we get an opportunity to play, and you only get 16 of them, we are going out to win the football game.
Q. How is DE Taylor Hart coming along in practice?
COACH KELLY: Taylor's doing a great job. I think there would be no question of us putting him in a game. The problem is that you can only have 46 guys active on game day, so we are not going to have an extra D‑Lineman up because if we do, we have to drop a linebacker or another position and we are just kind of tapped out. We have total confidence in him and if we have an injury, and we are fortunate that we haven't had any injuries on the D‑Line, we can plug him in right away and I think he would do a really good job for us. *Q. You have had S Chris Prosinski in here for a while now and it seems like he is making an impact on special teams -- *
COACH KELLY: He's making a huge impact on special teams. He had three tackles specifically in the last game we played. We knew that about him and I think he's also making some really good strides at the safety position. But we are really excited about him.
He's a bigger safety than some of our other guys. One of the things we liked about that is we wanted to get bigger in the secondary and we'll continue to strive to get that. He's a smart player, he's a physical player and he's really made a big impact for us from a special teams standpoint.
Q. You said that you would allow Dallas, if needed, to practice at your facility. How much appreciation do you have for how much the fan base here in this city dislikes the Dallas Cowboys and that rivalry over all these years?
COACH KELLY: I understand that, but that's not the way we're wired. I think I want to compete against the best, and it's the same thing if we went to go play it any other place in the NFL, they would allow us to practice at their facility.
When I was in college, everybody allowed us to practice. USC practiced at our place when we were at Oregon and we could practice at their place. That's what this deal is all about. I've never been a hate guy. I don't hate anybody we've ever played. I've got the utmost respect for them and I hope when we have an opportunity to play any team that we play, they are at their full strength. That's the best part about it; that's when you really truly get two competitors going against it. It was never more evident than when you watched the NBA Finals last year, when you watched the Spurs and the Heat: no technical fouls, there was no trash talking. It's two unbelievable teams going out and playing against each other and they are going to play their tails off and compete their tails off, but that's what this is all about.
Q. The continuity this year compared to last year has been tough because of personnel moving in and out due to injuries. What's the biggest challenge of that and how do you think the team has overall responded?
COACH KELLY: I thought they have done a good job with it and we obviously have had a lot of different lineups compared to last year when we were relatively healthy for the whole year. The biggest thing is just experience; guys getting used to playing next to one another and being on the same page with each other. But I thought for what they have gone through, I thought they have done a really good job.
Q. Do you think your offensive line is back to where it was at this point last year?
COACH KELLY: I don't even ‑‑ I don't think about last year. I mean, I don't go to bed and go, 'Hey, we're like we were last year,' and I can sleep better. It's just about getting ready to go play Dallas, so it's really not a concern of mine. I've never been a guy to compare things to things in the past.