By Steve Silverman
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When the Eagles make their way into MetLife Stadium on Sunday, the atmosphere in the visitors’ locker room will be decidedly lighter than it was a week ago, a month ago, a year ago and more than two years ago.

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That’s because Jeff Lurie had the intelligence to realize he had made a mistake that was hurting his franchise badly. He never should have brought in Chip Kelly to coach his proud NFL team, and it took him about three seasons to realize it.

Lurie had been taken in by Kelly’s P.T. Barnum routine. He sold himself as someone who was simply smarter, more innovative and understood how to win better than nearly every other football coach. His presence on the sidelines would give the Eagles an edge on an every-week basis.

Lurie bought it, and perhaps there are other NFL owners who will also fall for Kelly’s salesmanship. But there’s a lot more to coaching football than being the smartest guy on the block, which Kelly is not.

Lurie put an end to his mistake by firing Kelly prior their season finale against the Giants.

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If you want to know what Kelly is missing, take a look at Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. He is about as old school as it gets because he preaches defense, a running game, ball control, avoiding mistakes and having players on his team who believe they are part of a family.

Zimmer is not living in a time warp and he understands the passing game is a necessity for any team that wants to win. But he is not going to force the issue and ask his players to do any more than they are capable of doing.

The other thing about Zimmer is that he listens. He listens to his assistant coaches, his players and the front office. He considers other’s opinions and then he figures out his best option and goes with it. He is open-minded before making his final decisions.

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Kelly believes he is the smartest person in the room and that he always will be. He may have some good offensive concepts, but when it comes to putting together a cohesive game plan, he just doesn’t get it.

If his team got off to an early lead and could build on it, he was fine. But when it came to making adjustments in a close game or when the Eagles had to fight from behind, he didn’t get it.

When it came to talent assessment, Kelly’s record is simply poor. Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy are just a few of the players he got rid of, and all of them have thrived outside of Philadelphia.

Kelly is supposed to be a quarterback guru, but he traded away Nick Foles, and he was the only quarterback who had consistent success for the Eagles during his tenure.

Kelly thought he had his Super Bowl quarterback in Sam Bradford, and he believed he could help Bradford get his game to the highest level. Bradford certainly flashed his talent during his run in St. Louis in between his many injuries, but he has been the model of inconsistency with the Eagles this season.

So, Kelly failed at judging talent and he failed at coaching it as well.

On top of that, he rubbed nearly everybody he worked with the wrong way. Players don’t have to like their head coaches to play their best, but they do have to respect the coach’s ability to lead the team and believe he has the team’s best intentions at heart. Kelly did not inspire that belief from the players in the locker room.

Normally, the final game of the regular season between two teams not going to the playoffs is like the last day of school in June. The kids’ bodies are in the classroom, but their hearts and minds are elsewhere because summer is at hand.

But this game is different. Don’t expect the Eagles to go through the motions. They can send a message to their former coach by playing harder than they have in any game this year. There’s no better way of saying, “We’re better off without you.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter at @ProFootballBoy