When it comes to keeping his friends close and his enemies closer, Chip Kelly has no problem. The Eagles head coach had nothing but praise for the team's upcoming opponent and division rival, the Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles defense will have their hands full with the Cowboys offense. Dallas is averaging a second best 30.5 points per game. Meanwhile, Philadelphia's defense is averaging near 30 points per game allowed. In a press conference with the media on Wednesday, Kelly spoke on the prowess of Dallas's offense
Yeah, they are [as tough of a challenge we have faced] and we don't compare them to who else we played. Obviously the Broncos have a tremendous offense but when you have [Tony] Romo and [Jason] Witten and Dez Bryant and now with the emergence of [Terrance] Williams with Miles Austin being down a little bit, obviously they can do a lot of different things. You just look at the [Dallas vs. Denver] game, it was a hell of a football game and [Dallas] can put some points on the board, they can do a lot of different things offensively, and you've got an experienced quarterback running the system. It's impressive.
Kelly specifically discussed Dallas's quarterback, a man no stranger to Eagles fans, Tony Romo. Romo is having a great season: ranked 3rd in completion%, 3rd most TD, 3rd best QB rating (108.6), and 7th most yards. He's certainly a big reason for Dallas's success on offense.
I think he's got a great feel for how to play quarterback. He's got a lot of innate ability in the pocket. He's extremely accurate when he throws, but he also has an uncanny ability just to keep plays alive. I think how he moves within the pocket, there's a couple guys that you look at them and say, hey, that guy has got great feet but he does. He's similar to a Tom Brady in that fashion where they are always moving, they always just put themselves in the right position to make the throw at the right time.
If you're a student of the game, a student of quarterback play, it's really ‑‑ you know, when you watch him play the position, it's impressive. I think he has the right feel, his eyes are always downfield and he's always looking and hunting up receivers and trying to make the big play and he's really done a nice job with it. I think they are doing a lot more with him calling plays at the line of scrimmage and so he's putting them in the right situation at certain times. It's a tough package to defend.
When asked about the subject, Chip downplayed the rivalry.
No, we don't talk about [the rivalry] I think everybody we play, you have the utmost respect for and if you don't, you're going to lose. I think our players are like that, too. I think whether it's the Chiefs or the Chargers or the Broncos or whomever, I think there's a professionalism that I really kind of like in this league. I think maybe we respect all, we fear none. I've never been a guy that's got into the whole hate aspect of ‘We hate them, so let's stay later tonight and study harder and work harder.' You've got to prepare the same way, because if you don't, you're going to get beat in this league.
Kelly's confidence is admirable, if not reassuring. Philadelphia faces a tough challenge on Sunday. Dallas's offense will be hard to stop and the Eagles will need to put up a lot of points to win. This game is a huge opportunity for the Eagles as they can gain (or lose) sole possession of the NFC East by beating their division rivals.
Will the Birds rise to the challenge?