PHILADELPHIA -- At this time of year, Eagles coach Chip Kelly is used to preparing for his last couple of conference games and waiting to find out which bowl Oregon will play in.
This NFL thing, which has the Eagles in the mix for the NFC East title, is new to him. Kelly said he takes the same approach, which is to focus on the game at hand and ignore everything else.
“It means absolutely nothing,” Kelly said. “I've always felt the same exact way. I look at college football and everybody talks about the BCS in October, and it doesn't mean anything. You lose a game and you're out. We're going to keep our head down until Dec. 29. I know I personally will and we’ll see how many games we’ve won. If that's enough games to qualify for the playoffs, then we did a good job. But wishing and hoping and looking at tiebreakers -- you should be watching film and breaking down your opponent instead of doing that stuff.”
Dec. 29 is the season finale at Dallas. That game could decide the division title. But the Eagles can only make that game meaningful by winning games like this Sunday, at home, against Washington.
“Just go out and prepare for that game you’ve got that week, and that's what it should be about and what it's always about,” Kelly said.
• Kelly’s defensive line coach, Jerry Azzinaro, also holds the title of assistant head coach. There’s a reason for that.
“He coaches me a lot,” Kelly said. “I mean, he’s a really special guy to be around. First and foremost, he's really, really smart. He comes off as a gruff, get-after-you guy, but he's extremely intelligent. He's a great communicator. He can get his message across in terms of how he wants it done. He's very detailed in his work, extremely meticulous in how he wants it done. But I think the guys gravitate to him.”
Kelly was coaching at New Hampshire when he met Azzinaro, who was at Syracuse. When Kelly as the offensive coordinator at Oregon and there was a need for a defensive line coach, he recommended Azzinaro. He remained through Kelly’s tenure as head coach and followed Kelly to Philadelphia.
“I was with him at Oregon,” Kelly said, “and it was really important for me to be with him here just because I think he's a great teacher and great communicator. He's got a great view and great mindset in terms of how he looks at not only the game but looks at life. We all seek Professor Azzinaro's council a lot of times to be honest with you.”
• Meteorology isn’t sports science, but Kelly still pays attention. The Eagles practiced indoors Tuesday and Wednesday on cold, windy days. They were back outside Thursday.
“It's going to be 61 degrees on Sunday,” Kelly said. “We look at what the long-term weather forecast is going to be and try to work off of that. So you always want a great environment to practice in. Looking at what the temperature was going to be yesterday and the wind yesterday, unless your crack weathermen are not accurate, we're playing another game in the 60s on Sunday. If it's not, we'll blame them.”