Chip Kelly is learning the NFL rule book on the job.
The do-it-his-way coach didn’t think he could use a timeout to allow a banged-up Michael Vick to stay in the game during an important moment in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 33-30 loss to San Diego Chargers to Sunday.
Upon further review, Kelly realized he was wrong.
"That’s on me. I didn’t think we could," Kelly said Monday. "I should have asked. I think it’s difficult for anybody to be familiar with any rule because the rule book is so thick."
Vick got up slowly after taking a hard hit on an incomplete pass on first down from the Chargers 14. A referee told him he had to sit out one play. Nick Foles entered and threw a pass out of bounds in the end zone. Vick returned and misfired on third down, forcing the Eagles to settle for a tying field goal with 1:55 remaining.
If Kelly called the timeout, Vick could’ve stayed in and perhaps the second-down play would’ve turned out different.
"I’ve made mistakes," Kelly said. "I think we’ve all made mistakes. That’s what this game is all about. No one coaches a perfect game. No one plays a perfect game. But you’ve got to learn from those mistakes and hope they don’t happen again."
The other issue on that drive was Kelly’s clock management. He gave the Chargers too much time to win it. The Eagles were down 30-27 when they got ball at their 29 with 3:05 left. Vick quickly led them to the Chargers 14 in just 56 seconds.
The offense continued running the hurry-up, and it didn’t help that three straight incomplete passes used up a total of 14 seconds.
After Alex Henery’s field goal tied it, Philip Rivers had plenty of time to move the Chargers 51 yards in 1:44 to set up Nick Novak’s go-ahead 46-yarder with 7 seconds remaining.
"So obviously when you look back at it, we probably should have ran the clock down," Kelly said.
Given the way the Eagles operate Kelly’s up-tempo, no-stopping system, it may be difficult for them to slow things down and maintain their impressive results. The fast-paced, frenetic attack is certainly working. The Eagles have 63 points and 954 total yards in two games.
"Could we have? Sure," Kelly said about playing more of a ball-control offense. "But we wouldn’t have scored a lot of points. So you’re in a Catch 22. We were behind, so you’ve got to try to score to get back into the game, and you can play that game and say, `Hey, let’s work the clock here a little bit.’ But if you start handcuffing our offense, then we may not have scored enough points to make it even a tied game, so now you’re playing the other way.
"Then it turns into a huge catch-up game for us."
The Eagles (1-1) don’t have much time to figure out a solution. They’ll have to be ready to host former coach Andy Reid and his unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) on Thursday night.
It obviously will be an emotional game for Reid, his former players in Philadelphia, fans and the entire organization. Reid led the Eagles to their most successful stretch during his 14 seasons. They made nine playoff appearances, won six division titles, played in five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl.
Making Reid’s return even more special, the Eagles will retire Donovan McNabb’s No. 5 at halftime.
"It’s just another football game," Vick said, trying to downplay the hype. "We have to get ready, we can’t focus on the whole dynamic of the situation. We have a football game to prepare for, and we have to do everything to ensure that we have a chance to win the football game. That is what is most important. It’s our third game in 11 days, but we’re conditioned for it.
"We’re ready for it."
NOTES: CB Brandon Hughes didn’t practice Monday because of a hamstring injury. OL Dennis Kelly (back) returned to practice for the first time since training camp. … Kelly said rookie S Earl Wolff will continue rotating with Nate Allen, but isn’t ready to make the full-time starter.