Keep a close eye on the Patriots Sunday. You might see a little bit of the Eagles if you look hard enough.
The Patriots are winning, as always, and the Eagles are losing, but Bill Belichick said he’s borrowed a lot in terms of X’s and O’s from Chip Kelly.
The Eagles and Patriots held joint workouts the week of their preseason games before the 2013 and 2014 seasons. They didn’t hold the workouts this summer, since their meeting comes Sunday, in the regular season, but Belichick said he hasn’t hesitated to copy things he’s seen the Eagles do under Kelly.
“I think they do a lot of great things,” Belichick said. “We’ve learned a lot from them. Some of the things they’ve done in their program we’ve been able to adapt to ours.
“I’m not saying ours is theirs, but you take an idea or you take a concept that they’re using and if it’s something that you like maybe you figure out a way to integrate it into yours. Maybe it’s the same idea but it’s done a little differently because of the way you’re set up or whatever the circumstances are.
“There are definitely things like that. When we’ve practiced against them, I’ve been very impressed with the way that operation is run, and we’ve definitely taken some things from it, no question.”
The Eagles face the Patriots at 4:25 p.m. Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
The Patriots are 10-1, and the Eagles are 4-7. The Pats are 51-4 in their last 55 home games. They haven’t lost at home to a team with a losing record since the Dolphins in 2008, but that was a game Matt Cassel started.
Tom Brady hasn’t lost at home to a team with a losing record since the Chargers in 2002.
Belichick and Kelly have known each other for a long time since Kelly was coaching at New Hampshire and Belichick was with the Patriots.
“I know Chip and I have a lot of respect for Chip,” Belichick said. “I think he’s a great football coach. We’ve never worked together, so there are a lot of coaches that I’ve spent a lot more time with than Chip. And that’s not taking anything away from him. That’s just the truth. It’s not like we’ve been on the same staff for multiple years. We’ve competed against him and I think he does a great job.
“I think he runs a great program. He’s smart. All three areas of the team are, I think, well-constructed, well-put-together. They play very well, they play competitively on a consistent basis.”
The Eagles have lost three straight games, the last two by an average of 29½ points.
The Patriots have scored 45 or more points 18 times under Brady. If they do it Sunday, the Eagles will become the first team in NFL history to allow 45 three games in a row.
Kelly said his conversations with Belichick when he was a young, ascending coach were of a more general nature than learning specific plays.
“I don't come out of there and say, ‘I had a conversation with Bill seven years ago and I know that this blitz's name is ‘this’ and that they run it on third down,’” Kelly said.
“A lot of the conversations with [Belichick], when I had time to spend with him, were more philosophical of, ‘What do you think here? What are you doing here? What's your thought process here?’ So it's not a game-plan specific thing that you can apply to what's going to go on this Sunday.
“I think Bill is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and [he has an] ability to do it with a lot of different people. When he did lose Tom (Brady in 2008), everybody said, ‘Well, it's Tom.’ But when he did lose Tom, he won 11 games with Matt Cassel.
“He's been on such a successful run, especially in this day of the salary cap. I think to be able to continue to manage and stay at the high level, he's done it as good as anybody.”
When it comes to coaches, this game looks like a mismatch.
Belichick and Chuck Noll are the only coaches to win four Super Bowls. Belichick’s 22 playoff wins are an NFL record, two more than Tom Landry. And his .668 winning percentage is ninth-highest in NFL history among those who’ve coached at least 100 games.
Maybe most impressive is the Patriots’ consistency. This is the Patriots’ 13th straight season with double-digit wins. Only the 49ers, from 1983 through 1998, have ever had more.
Kelly? He has yet to win a playoff game and already has more losses this year with the Eagles than the Patriots have had in any season since 2002.
But Belichick remains a fan.
“They’re well-coached,” Belichick said. “They make you work in all three phases of the game: offense, defense, special teams. They’re a very well-balanced team. They take the ball away from you. Every play is a challenge in the kicking game. Every play is a challenge defensively, because of how explosive they are. And every play is tough on offense because of the movement, the different looks that they give you and the talent that they have on that side of the ball.
“I think he’s done a really good job of putting together a team that’s hard to play against. They have a lot of strengths and they hit you with a lot of different problems — I’d say probably [as many] if not more than any team we play in the league.
“Everybody has their ups and downs in this league. What we worry about, what we’re concerned about is their best. That’s we expect to get. That’s what I think we’re going to get.
“It’s a good football team with a lot of talent. Well-coached, tough to prepare for, tough to play against and we’ll expect their best game on Sunday."