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Chip Kelly Deserves Credit For Keeping The Eagles Together

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Eagles were dead at 4-7.

That was the popular opinion of many fans across the Delaware Valley as well as the football world. After a pair of blowout losses to Tampa Bay and Detroit, the Eagles had the makeup of a sinking ship. The buzzards were circling over Chip Kelly with rumors of player unhappiness and Kelly reportedly looking into any college coaching job that was available.

Two weeks later, the Eagles are alive and well. Well enough, at least, in the NFC East.

When the Eagles were 4-7, Kelly did not make drastic changes. He also kept the same approach to his players that he had during better times in the early part of the season.

"My theory is that this is an extremely competitive league and there are not just certain words that one person can say that can flip the switch and make a team be good," said Kelly. "Just like I said after the Dallas game, when we beat Dallas in Dallas and everybody wanted to know if that was the point in the season when things are going to take off because you beat Dallas, and everybody thought I was the damper on the party saying it's not like that."

Like him or not, Kelly must be given credit for keeping his team together and saving the Eagles' season. It started in New England two weeks ago when nobody gave the Eagles a chance to win. Two weeks later, the Eagles are on a two-game winning streak, thanks largely to the confidence that Kelly still had in his players.

Eagles Coach Chip Kelly
(credit: Ed Benkin)

"I told those guys that sometimes they don't see in them what we see in them," Kelly said. "I thought we had a really good football team and what we did in New England and what we did last week wasn't a surprise to us. We had great confidence in them as a group and they needed to kind of go out and shake off what control that you can control, and that's your preparation and getting ready for whoever that opponent is that you're going to play and then just go out and play."

Kelly also took the high road last week while being bombarded about his relationship with former Eagle LeSean McCoy. Kelly admitted on Thursday the communication with the trade was handled poorly and apologized to McCoy in his news conference. McCoy took the opposite, immature route. He fanned the flames of his disdain towards Kelly and refused once again to elaborate on his criticism of Kelly in the off-season. After McCoy and the Bills went down to defeat, McCoy's shiftiest move of the day was dodging reporters after the game.

Kelly also made sure his team kept its composure on the field against Buffalo. The Eagles were never drawn into any penalties which could have cost the team a victory. On the other side, the Bills committed an eye-popping 15 penalties for 101 yards.

"We talked about it as a coaching staff and in individual position meetings and in group settings of it's important to play with emotion but not let emotion play with you," said Kelly. "Don't let them take you out of your game. When you do retaliate, it's really kind of a selfish act because you're hurting your team."

The Eagles' situation is still far from perfect. Their record of 6-7 won't exactly make them Super Bowl favorites, and the 11-2 Arizona Cardinals are coming to town on Sunday night. The jury is also still out on whether or not Kelly's plan will work in the long term. There is also the issue with DeMarco Murray, as the running back's carries continue to diminish.

But he has brought the Eagles back from the abyss because he never lost faith in his players. As a result, Kelly had one word to describe the difference in his team the past two weeks.

"Confidence," Kelly said. "I think they just got a little confidence in themselves and the guys around them."

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