PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Turning a 4-12 team into a winner usually takes longer than it did for Chip Kelly.
The Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) enter their bye week on a three-game winning streak and leading the NFC East by a half-game over the Dallas Cowboys (5-5).
Not bad for a team that was supposed to be rebuilding and was expected to win fewer than seven games. Oddsmakers listed Philadelphia’s preseason over/under total at 61/2.
“I really didn’t have any preconceived expectations,” Kelly said Monday. “We don’t have a set ‘We have to get to this or we have to get to that.’ It’s do we see improvement? Are we getting better? Do we continually make the same mistakes, things like that that I think are for me what you can see from a growth standpoint.”
Kelly took over a team that was 12-20 in Andy Reid’s last two seasons. The Eagles haven’t won a playoff game since 2008. Now they’re in position to win the division and host a playoff game, an accomplishment that seemed unrealistic when Kelly arrived from Oregon in January.
“I see our guys, if we make a mistake, we correct it, we get better and we improve,” Kelly said. “That is the mark of an organization that is going in the right direction. That is the positive things we gained out of it. I didn’t have any preconceived notions or numbers or anything like that that they were this before or they were that. It was a clean slate with everybody coming in here. Let’s move forward as a group and see how we can improve every day.”
The Eagles snapped a 10-game home losing streak with a 24-16 win over Washington on Sunday. They’ll have the rest of the week off after practicing on Tuesday. They host Arizona (6-4) on Dec. 1, and play three of their remaining five games at home.
A bye after three straight wins seems like a potential momentum-killer. But it’s a welcome break for many players 11 weeks into a grueling season.
“We have been down, up and down. Just to get a bye, get everybody healthy and getting a win before heading into the bye week is something big,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “I can’t wait to get back and start working, but I am definitely going to enjoy my time off.”
Injuries are starting to pile up for Philadelphia. Three defensive starters didn’t play against the Redskins: Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (knee), safety Earl Wolff (knee) and cornerback Bradley Fletcher (pectoral). Several others were banged-up.
Kelly said Michael Vick should be ready to return after the bye. He’s missed five full games and didn’t make it to the second half in two others. Vick isn’t expected to get his starting job back, however. Nick Foles is 4-1 as a starter, leads the NFL with a passer rating of 128.0, has thrown 16 touchdown passes, zero interceptions and he’s run for two scores.
“He’s going to start for the bye week,” Kelly joked. “When they’re both healthy, I’ll sit down with both of them when they’re both healthy.”
The offense has been outstanding except for two games — home losses to the Giants and Cowboys. The defense has made significant improvements since the first month. Special teams are steady.
It’s a formula for success faster than many thought possible.
“We’re in a good spot, it feels good but we still have work to do and that is the beauty of it,” Foles said. “We have a lot of work to do and the guys know that and the guys go to work knowing that. We haven’t arrived. You never arrive. It’s a special team. The coaches have done a great job. We just have to keep going, keep the momentum going.”