Belichick: 'Disappointing' Eagles didn't give Kelly more time

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Belichick: 'Disappointing' Eagles didn't give Kelly more time

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick didn't hide his feelings when asked about coaching changes that are handed down across the NFL at this time of year. The Patriots coach immediately expressed how he disagreed with how one of his confidantes in the coaching ranks, Chip Kelly, was treated in Philadelphia. 

The Eagles released Kelly from his contract on Tuesday after going 6-9 through 15 games this season. Kelly went 26-21 overall in his nearly three seasons as head coach in Philly. 

"Yeah, I would say it's actually disappointing," Belichick said. "Chip Kelly to me is a really good football coach. He does a great job. I think he's done a good job with that team. It's disappointing to see, you know, Josh [McDaniels] in Denver . . . There's a lot of examples. But pretty much everybody's on a one-year contract in this league. I don't know how you build a program in one year.

"Chip's a great coach. He'll end up somewhere, and he'll do a great job there. I'd say a lot of the players that were on the Eagles that are no longer on the Eagles aren't really doing too much for anybody else, either."

This was Kelly's first season in the dual roles of both head coach and personnel chief.

Belichick handles both of those duties in New England, and he called his situation with the Patriots "the best situation in the league" on Thursday given the stability throughout the franchise. From ownership to the quarterback, things have gone unchanged since 2001.

Still, Belichick expressed disappointment at the fact that coaches he deems to be capable have had their tenures ended before they could insert their programs completely. All over the league -- not just in Philadelphia -- there are owners who expect coaches and personnel people to be able to install a program and create a winner in a very short period of time, Belichick explained. 

"It's disappointing to look at coaches like coach [Greg] Schiano or coach [Mike] Shanahan or coach Kelly or guys like that," Belichick said. "But, I mean, look, I'm not there. I'm not a part of those programs. I just know those guys are good coaches. They do a good job. I have a lot of respect for them."

Belichick was open in discussing his own career as an example of how it can take multiple years to establish a system. It wasn't until 2003, Belichick said, that he felt his entire program had been installed. 

"You have to change the culture," he said. "Normally one coach is different from the previous coach. You don't see a lot of, whoever the first coach is, the second coach is a carbon copy of the first coach, the third coach is kind of a carbon copy of the second coach. I mean, you rarely see that."

With a new coach comes a new philosophy, Belichick explained. And often with a new philosophy, a new scheme isn't far behind. 

"That means you're going to turn over a high percentage of the roster," he said, "because the players that the other coach had don't fit the new philosophy. A lot of the players are going to have to change, in part because of the philosophy, in part because of the scheme. Those role-type players, now that role's not needed in the new scheme, and a different role's needed so you need different players."

Even with an overhaul in personnel, it takes time for those adjustments to pay dividends. A few months of practices aren't enough, as far as Belichick is concerned.

"You're going to have to go through a lot of tough situations," Belichick said. "Tough games, tough losses, tough stretches in the season, whatever it happens to be. To build that up over time, it doesn't happen in training camp. I mean, look, training camp's training camp but those games don't count. Even in the early part of the season, you might have some tough games, but it's not like playing in January, playing in December. It takes some time to go through that. I don't think there's any shortcut to it.

"I mean, I know there's a lot of other people in the league who think there is. Like, they're just instant -- after two weeks all of a sudden after two weeks, everything's going to change dramatically. I'm not really a part of that. I don't buy into that."

Belichick had the benefit of winning a Super Bowl in 2001, which clearly helped his grasp on the head-coaching job in New England. But in Thursday's press conference he admitted that those bumps in the road of program development were felt when the team went 9-7 and missed the playoffs in 2002.

Then in 2003 and 2004, with his program established, the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls.

"We won in '01, but in '02 we had a lot of issues," Belichick said. "[In] '03, that was a good football team. [In] '04, that was a good football team. I don't think there's any doubt about '01. That wasn't the best team, but that team played the best so we won.

"But I think we saw in '02 more of probably overall where the '01 team was. It's just the '01 team played great when it had to in critical situations in big games. That's why they won. Can't take anything away from them because they deserved it because they were the best team. But that wasn't the case in '02."

Belichick went 5-11 in his first season as Patriots head coach and personnel chief in 2000, yet he was given time to build his team the way he wanted. Clearly he feels owners around the league, and particularly Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, should be more willing to adopt a similar approach.

Patriots 'got to play to the last second' in win over Texans

Patriots 'got to play to the last second' in win over Texans

Tom Brady bailed the Patriots out again. With just 29 seconds left in Sunday’s game with Houston, the 40-year old quarterback/surgeon dropped back, froze the safety with his eyes and delivered the game-winning 25-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks. Gillette Stadium erupted.

“They were playing a two-high defense and we got Cookie (Brandin Cooks) behind the corner,” said Brady shortly after the game. “We had Danny (Amendola) going up the middle of the field, so I tried to stare down the middle and then put it up and didn't really see the end of it until I saw it on the scoreboard. It was close, and then they reviewed it. I'm glad we got the two-point play. It was a great win. Got to play to the last second.”

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The review was necessary because Cooks was awfully close to being out of bounds. But the third-year pro had the wherewithal to know his position on the field and what his feet and body needed to do.

“It’s one of those things you don’t really work on in practice,” said Cooks on keeping his feet inbounds. “It happens in practice but it’s more of a natural instinct.”

The effort was appreciated.

“It was awesome,” said Rob Gronkowski. “I was just jamming [on] that play. I saw Tom [Brady] release the ball and [Brandin] Cooks open. I was like, ‘Please have this complete for a touchdown’. I was like, ‘I see Cooks wide open,’ and it was a great throw.”

“Cooks, obviously, on the last play against Cover-2 down the sideline made a great catch there.” said Bill Belichick. He wasn’t smiling but you know he was - somewhere on the inside.

Of course, the ending almost didn’t come to fruition. The Pats had a couple of bad three-and-outs earlier in the 4th quarter, and then decided to add an extra 10 yards to what goes down in the record books as a 75-yard drive but actually covered 85 thanks to a David Andrews holding penalty.

“Yeah, we kept making it hard,” recalled Brady. “I mean, we had penalties and then the sack and the fumble and it just kept feeling like we were going backwards.”

“We played bad for a lot of the game,” admitted left tackle Nate Solder. “Not up to our standard, but when you win and pull off a win in tough circumstances, there’s something to be said for that. It’s building block.”

The drive didn’t have life until the first of two third down conversions. Brady hooking up with Gronkowski short of the sticks. Gronk willing his way to move the chains.

“I know a lot of people look up to me to get the drive going, to make the first play to get everyone rolling,” said the tight end. “It was about third-and-12 I would say and I just knew that – I saw the defense, I saw the coverage and I knew that I had to make a play there. Tom [Brady] read it pretty good and threw a really good pass and I just made the catch and I saw where the first down marker was and I knew I had to get it to get us rolling in that [two minute drill]. Everyone did their job from there on out.”

Brady then hit Cooks for 18 yards to move the ball past midfield. But then came the next roadblock. Brady was sacked and fumbled the ball. Andrews alertly recovered it, but now the Pats were operating from their own 48. An incomplete down the deep middle to Cooks on 2nd down had the Pats facing third-and-18 with just 54 seconds to play. Enter Danny Amendola. 

“They were playing kind of a deep man coverage/ zone that turned into man after 25 yards,” recalled Amendola. “I had a deeper route. Me and Hoagie {Chris Hogan} crossed. I came out the backdoor and it worked out.”

“Danny made a really awesome catch,” added Hogan.

That set the stage for Brady to Cooks. 

“Tommy Ice came out and did his thing,” said defensive end Cassius Marsh.

“I mean, that’s the way you write it,” said Hogan, smiling. “it was a great drive by everyone on that offense.”

Inevitable, it seemed, but the reality was far more difficult.

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