In Chip we trust. It was very easy for Eagles fans to say that in the honeymoon of 2013, his first year as the head coach here. Chip Kelly was the new coach on the block and the times were fun to enjoy. He was a great departure from Andy Reid and his 14 years of the most wins in franchise history because, simply, Reid didn't win in his last couple of seasons as the head coach and the excitement level petered out for fans.
So it was Chip Kelly who signed on as the head coach and turned the franchise around instantly. The Eagles went from 4-12 in 2012 to 10-6 and a division title in 2013 and it was, for everyone, a joyride. Wonderful. The Eagles were back in the game, literally.
Now the team is 4-1 and Kelly matches wits on Sunday night with a dean of NFL head coaching, Tom Coughlin. He's in his 18th season as a head coach in this league and has accumulated 173 total wins and a pair of Super Bowls. This is no lightweight on the opposing sidelines on Sunday.
Nor is Kelly to be taken for granted by any coach in the league. The Eagles are 14-7 in the regular season under Kelly, with a division title won and another one that figures to be hotly contested. A year ago the question wasn't how great a coach Kelly was, it was more along the lines of determining whether he was a gimmick or not. "Yeah, yeah, up-tempo offense is fun to watch, but will it really work in the NFL?"
It works, we know that. But there is a whole lot more to Kelly than the speed of his offense or the X's and O's he designs when the Eagles have the football. The program Kelly is putting together - and it is a work in progress-is designed to be sustainable as the Eagles plot to win for years and years ahead.
The product is not yet finished, which makes the current climate among the fans and the media so interesting. That's a topic for another day, every other day, in fact, because the focus is, as Kelly correctly says, the game directly in front of the team.
"The emphasis is winning each week. That's it. Bottom line," said Kelly, answering a question about rookies earning playing time. "And if I'm going to try to groom a guy because he's gonna be a good player two or three years down the road, I ain't gonna be here two or three years down the road. So, we're trying to win our next game, and our best guys are going to play in our next game. That's the way I've always approached it and that's the way I'm going to approach it."
In Chip we trust. How he corrects the imperfections on this 4-1 team is the current challenge. His offense hasn't clicked as desired, and the minus-4 in turnover ratio and the rank of 30th in the league in touchdown efficiency in the red zone are numbers that must be improved to beat a quality team like New York. The defense has given up far too many big plays and has some injury concerns and must right itself against a Giants offense that has suddenly found its stride in the West Coast scheme.
The mark of the best coaches is that they provide the right answers as a counter move. Kelly's Eagles have won four of five games in roller-coaster fashion this year as the injuries have piled up and the inconsistency has worn on the tickers of those watching on the edge of their seats.
The best test of the year comes on Sunday night. The Giants are no joke. The Eagles need to play their best game of the season to win.
And Kelly has the right formula, whatever that may be. The Eagles have staked their present and future on him and his innovative mind and the program he's installing. The advances this organization has made in two seasons are impressive and exciting. The Eagles are heading in the right direction and In Chip We Trust is the mantra for all who love the team and understand the peaks and valleys of building a winner the right way.