Kelly proved doubters wrong in first season

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm •  Published: January 6, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Chip Kelly gave himself a failing grade by scholastic standards.

Two days after the worst-to-first Philadelphia Eagles were knocked out of the playoffs by the New Orleans Saints, Kelly reflected on a successful rookie season in the NFL. He took over a team that won four games and turned it into the NFC East champion, going 10-7 overall.

Asked to evaluate his performance, Kelly said: "I give myself 58.8 percent. That's winning 10 games out of 17."

That's an "F'' in schools, but close to an "A-plus" in the NFL.

Despite the 26-24 loss to the Saints, the Eagles had quite a year. They finished 7-1 in the second half and were 9-3 after a 1-3 start. Kelly's up-tempo offense was dynamic and the defense under coordinator Bill Davis came a long way following a poor first month.

Nick Foles had a spectacular season, giving the Eagles an answer at quarterback — for now. LeSean McCoy set franchise records for rushing. Wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper had career years. Jason Peters and Evan Mathis were All-Pro linemen.

On defense, linemen Cedric Thornton, Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan impressed. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks showed playmaking skills and linebacker DeMeco Ryans had an outstanding season.

The Eagles had the one of the youngest rosters in the league, so they should be set up for a bright future. They've had excellent drafts the last two years and are expected to improve in Kelly's second year.

There were plenty of skeptics when the Eagles lured Kelly away from Oregon to replace Andy Reid. Some of the old-schoolers thought a college coach with a unique style wouldn't adapt well to the NFL.

Kelly paid zero attention to the critics.

"I think the reception I got especially from the coaches in the league was awesome," he said. "Tom Coughlin, guys like that that I have great respect for that have been around the league for a long time, they were great with me. I'm really appreciative to the other coaches in this league, to get a chance to talk to them before the game and some of their thoughts and insights. I know it's an honor to coach in this league. It's very difficult to get one of these jobs, and I have great respect for the guys."

Players bought into Kelly's way right from the start. He implemented fresh ideas, and a new system for doing everything. Diets, sleeping habits, practice structure and much more changed. It worked, and it was only the beginning.