State Of The Eagles: Breaking Down The Chip Kelly Experiment And Looking Ahead

It’s finally over, thank God. The Eagles season came to a close this Sunday following a 35-30 win in a meaningless game against the just-as-hapless New York Giants in the Meadowlands. The conclusion of the game marked the end of a chapter of Eagles history and the start of a new one, hopefully one that will wipe the Chip Kelly era out of people’s minds like it was Rocky V. Let’s break down the past, present, and future of a once proud franchise, a franchise desperate for answers on how to get back to their winning ways that seem like eons ago.

The Eagles hired Chip Kelly three years ago after it was clear that it was time for the Andy Reid era to come to a close. Despite Reid leading the birds to multiple conference championship games and even a Superbowl, his inability to get over the hump followed by mediocre seasons and then a dismal 4-12 campaign was the final straw. There was no ill will, but it was clear that both parties needed a change of scenery and a fresh start. The Eagles hired Chip Kelly, who was one of the hottest names at the time because of how he transformed the Oregon Ducks into a perennial national powerhouse, with it’s prolific and unique offense that operated at breakneck speed that some believed could revolutionize the way the game is played. This isn’t an exaggeration, Kelly’s uptempo offense and unique coaching methods made some seriously believe he could literally change the game to some degree. At the time, it wasn’t a surefire bet that Kelly’s success would translate to the NFL, but above all else he was hired because of his “football mind”, someone who just really knew the game and dedicated all his time and energy to the sport. That was why he was such a hot commodity coming out of Oregon. There was a belief that even if his team wasn’t putting up 50 points a game, he would figure something out and adapt because of his deep understanding of the game and manic work and study ethic.

Despite going 4-12 the year before, Kelly didn’t inherit a bad team, at all. After starting 1-3, the Eagles finished the season 10-6, good enough to win the division. They lost to the Saints in a close first round game but hey, not a bad start at all for a coach with virtually no NFL experience. People were excited, things were looking up. The Eagles had a coach committed to bringing a winning culture (more on that in just a bit) and attitude to Philly and the results backed it up on the field.

Following that year, something strange happened in the offseason. The Eagles cut star wide receiver DeSean Jackson after having over 80 catches and 1300+ yards. Why? There was no real explanation, just speculation that his attitude and perhaps demeanor didn’t fall in line with the kind of culture Chip Kelly was trying to instill in the locker room. Sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it? Especially after a great year? No big scandal, or suspension, just “rumors”, whispers of “gang affiliations” and such. In retrospect it really was pretty crazy. At the time, Chip Kelly was perceived as a potential guru since he just lead us to the playoffs in his first year. We thought we could be even better if we did things Chip’s way. Philadelphia wasn’t crazy for buying into the hype, at the time it made sense, even if we still had our lingering reservations about the whole thing.

The next season the Eagles went 10-6 again, however this time that wasn’t good enough for a playoff spot. Nick Foles was the starting quarterback after lighting it up the previous season, but got hurt and the team wasn’t able to overcome with Mark Sanchez. This was the offseason where things got weird. 10-6 wasn’t terrible by any means, just a little disappointing after making the playoffs the previous year. During the offseason Chip Kelly met with owner Jeffrey Lurie to discuss his role and responsibilities as head coach. Kelly wasn’t satisfied with just calling the plays, he wanted to be the general manager and pick the players too, have complete control over the roster. Despite only having two years of NFL experience, Kelly was given what he wanted. People were behind it. The reasoning was that Kelly had a vision and that (then current) GM Howie Roseman was holding him back from taking that vision to the next level. Nobody knew Chip Kelly’s system like Chip Kelly, so shouldn’t he ultimately be the one who decides on player personnel? Again, hindsight is 20/20 but at the time one could justify it. Philadelphia was all in with Chip Kelly.

Then Chip Kelly traded away one of the best running backs in LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso, a former Oregon linebacker who was coming off tearing an ACL for the second time and only had one full year in the NFL prior to that. Again, in Chip we trust. It was bold, but there was an aura of confidence around the Philadelphia area. Chip being the offensive minded guy he is could certainly find a replacement to carry the rock and he got a great talent on defense in the process. Keep calm and in Chip we trust.

Then this past season happened. I’m not going to detail every move because I’d rather discuss the future than recap the past. You know what happened. Long story short, Chip signed a bunch of new players, drafted some encouraging young guys, and the whole thing just crashed and burned to the ground like it was set ablaze by a pyromaniac comic book villain. DeMarco Murray (the league’s leading rusher from the year before) was brought in to replace LeSean and couldn’t get going, at all. Byron Maxwell was brought in to help the secondary and even though they knew they probably overpaid for him, he didn’t even come close to the difference maker they needed. Poor production from draft picks (besides Jordan Hicks, who got hurt) and an aging and just out of it offensive line all were big factors in the flub. The one bright spot was Sam Bradford. The injury prone quarterback was brought in to lead the offense and while there were many questions about his durability, he took a shaky start and actually played pretty well down the stretch, despite not getting much help at all from his receivers. Still, the season was a wreck and STILL they had a chance to make the playoffs because the NFC East was dreadful but they were eliminated once again by DeSean Jackson and the Redskins in a primetime drubbing at home.

Jeffrey Lurie had enough. Kelly was fired before the Eagles even played their final game of the season. The Chip Kelly era was officially over, a massive failure. I would still defend the hiring, it was a bold move but his perceived football knowledge and passion for the game is something you want in your head coach. Apparently his people skills were hard for players to connect to. In the end it just wasn’t working, simple as that. It was the right move, once you lose control of a locker room it’s nearly impossible to get back. It’s time to start yet another chapter in Eagles history.

460476376.0

Now the Eagles are back with Howie Roseman as the GM and are in need of a head coach. There are a lot of potential candidates out there and this decision will most likely have a significant long term impact on the team either way, good or bad. Let’s take a look at some of the names that are floating around out there:

Sean Payton: I think this would be a fantastic acquisition. While he’s struggled with the Saints of late I think it really comes down to him needing a change of scenery, just like Andy Reid did. He’s a great offensive mind who has shown he can really bring a quarterback along and get the most out of his skill position players. He won a Super Bowl. He’s an outside the box thinker that can rejuvenate this team and salvage some of the promising talent that remains on the roster. However, there’s two potential problems. First, he’s still under contract with the Saints and the Eagles might have to trade for him. It’s rumored that it would take a second round pick to acquire him, which is something the Eagles don’t have this year. Second, Payton could want a great deal of control over the team, similarly to Chip Kelly. Ownership might be hesitant to award that to someone seeing how that just went with Chip but this is a little different. Payton is a proven winner and has much more NFL experience and a history of successes. If it’s feasible to get him, Sean Payton would be an exciting and promising head coach for the foreseeable future.

Adam Gase: Gase has grown on me immensely recently. If you look at his resume, it’s just stacked. The current offensive coordinator is young and if successful could be the Eagles head coach for a long, long time. He was able to take Jay Cutler (who has a reputation for being difficult to deal with) and have him deliver a career year. He’s worked his way up around the league and has commanded a great deal of respect around the league. TheEagles have talent on this offense and Gase could be able to get production from it. However, he’s still young and has no head coaching experience which is risky. It could be a Josh McDaniels type situation where he doesn’t cut it and goes back to being a coordinator.  Still, I guess I’d support this because his track record has been darn good and if he’s ready to take the next step then whoever gets him will get a great foundation for years to come.

122914-NFL-Broncos-Adam-Gase-PI-CH.vadapt.620.high.92

Doug Pederson: The current OC for the Chiefs is an Andy Reid guy and was actually on the Eagles coaching staff before as a quality control coach and then as the quarterbacks coach. He’s been doing a remarkable job with the Chiefs who are scalding hot right now going into the playoffs. In his one year as Eagles head coach the team amassed 6386 total yards with Mike Vick and Vince Young leading the way. He played in the league as a quarterback himself. This would be a solid move, but do you really want an Andy Reid guy after all those years? I’d support it I just think the Eagles need a fresh start and some new ideas. If he can bring back the Andy Reid esque glory days though, then it would be totally worth it, just have to consider if the risk outweighs what the other candidates can bring to the table.

Sean McDermott: Another former Eagles coach, this one was in Philly for a long time. The Eagles were his first job away from his college and he was here all the way until he was fired in 2010 as the teams D Coordinator. Since, he has been the defensive coordinator for the Panthers who have been extremely tough on defense over the past few years. Finishing up the year 15-1, the Panthers D is one of the key reasons to their historic year. Additionally, McDermott has hinted that he wants to be here. He also seems to have a lot of local support. Still, this would scare me. I don’t know exactly why but he struggled here. Sure he was younger and has probably gained a ton of knowledge since but those dark days of defense still linger in my mind. He’s young, no head coaching experience. I also wonder how much of the Panthers success on D is attributed to him and not defensive minded head coach Ron Rivera. If the Eagles reach out to McDermott, I will get on board with it. I just have a gut feeling that there are better candidates than him available this year.

ny_a_mcdermott_b1_600

Duce Staley: A fan favorite running back for the Eagles and current coach of said position, the birds already interviewed Staley to be their head coach. It would appear to be a formality and just a respectful conversation but it’s probably not realistic to think he’ll be the head coach next year. Having said that, I’d love for him to stick around,hopefully finding a spot on next years coaching regime.

Pat Shurmur: Shurmur finished the year as the interim head coach after Chip was fired. Previously, he was the Offensive Coordinator under Chip Kelly. It was interesting to see how the team exploded for 35 points in the final game with him calling the shots. Shurmur has had a failed head coaching tenure before with the Browns and that’s tough to hold against somebody. Having said that, Shurmur doesn’t figure to be a serious candidate to take over full head coaching duties for the following season.

John Harbaugh: If John Harbaugh became available he would instantly become my number one choice to be the next head coach. The problem is that he probably won’t be available. The Ravens had a forgettable year but they don’t appear to be considering firing him, which is probably the right call. It’s wishful thinking, but as of now this is a Hail Mary, and not one being thrown by Aaron Rodgers.

Teryl Austin: This is my secret underdog that I’m rooting for. Currently the D Coordinator for the Lions, Austin has impressed recently. The reason I like this guy is that he had a tough job this season, being in charge of a defense that lost its best player in Ndamakong Suh. They still faired alright this year, despite missing the post season. They almost beat the Packers twice and the most impressive part to me was how they played hard even though they were already eliminated from the playoffs. That says a lot. Austin would bring a tough, defensive mind to Philly with no former ties to the Birds. His resume is impressive and has been a part of Super Bowl winning units. I’m not saying this is definitely the guy the Eagles should hire, I’m saying he is an intriguing candidate worthy of the teams due diligence.

Dirk Koetter: The Eagles are reported to have interviewed or plan on interviewing Koetter. He spent this past season as the Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator. His work with rookie Jameis Winston was impressive, especially their demolishing of the Eagles this year. He has a lot of experience in football at different levels of play but I just don’t think his resume stacks up to the other available candidates.

Hue Jackson: Jackson has been the Offensive Coordinator in Cincinnati since Jay Gruden left to torment the Eagles. He’s done great in that role and has a wealth of football experience under his belt. He even did well as the Raiders OC and was promoted to their head coach and went 8-8, not terrible for Oakland standards. He was still fired and eventually made his way to Cincinnati. He’s definitely worth interviewing and investigating, although right now he seems totally focused on his teams playoff game.

nfl_schottenheimer_08

John Gruden/ Bill Cowher/ Brian Billick/ Mike Shanahan: All these guys have rings and all these guys are long shots. Shanahan has been linked to some openings but the Eagles do not appear to be one of them. I’d love to see the Eagles throw a fat bag of money at John Gruden. I just want to see some passion back in Philadelphia football and you know Gruden brings that. It’s unlikely he walks away from his current dream gig at ESPN though. Brian Billick called the Eagles vacancy the most attractive but I’m not sure if he’s a candidate to return to coaching. Bill Cowher? Who knows.

What does it all mean? While it’s frustrating to be back to square one, I must say I’m excited for a new chapter. There are some great names on this list that have a lot of potential for continued success as an NFL head coach. Once a coach is hired, then we can start evaluating the roster, seeing who stays and who goes. When a coach is picked, we’ll have a better idea of the direction this team is headed and the steps it will take to get there. There is a lot of pressure to hire the right guy, and even with the failed experiment with Chip Kelly I have enough confidence in Eagles management to make a sound decision this time around.

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 10

We’re getting to that sweet spot in the NFL season, Thanksgiving day football, coaches and coordinators dropping like flies, teams solidifying their playoff stature while others crumble. Whether your team falls in the former or latter category, it’s an interesting time of the season. Let’s take a look around the league, shall we?

Peyton Manning broke the record for most passing yards of all time, breaking Bret Favre’s previous record of 71,838. All smiles then right? Not hardly, Peyton struggled mightily thereafter, throwing four interceptions and getting benched for Brock Osweiler. What’s worse is that after the game it was revealed that Manning has a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot. Oh, and the Broncos were annihilated, losing 29-13 to the Kansas City Chiefs (it was worse than the score indicates too). Peyton is definitely out this week against Chicago and will be re-evaluated after that. Despite having no allegiance to Denver, I’ve defended the Broncos all year and will continue to do so. Their defense is stacked but was without DeMarcus Ware and Aquib Talib, two of their best players. Assuming these guys get back on the field this will be a very tough defense to face as the year goes on, as defense becomes ever so important. Plus, Andy Reid after the bye is like Chick Fil A on Sundays, lights out. Concern for the Broncos is definitely legitimate however, their health is key and they have to get in an offensive rhythm when Peyton returns. In reality, this will probably come down to Peyton’s health and his effectiveness when he gets back on the field, whenever that may be. Brock Osweiler was a second round pick and only 24, who knows, maybe he can play?

Somehow, some way the Lions beat the Packers. This is less about the Lions winning and more about the Packers losing. The Packers have a laundry list of offensive woes: lack of a running game, poor line play, and Randall Cobb’s inability to step up the way he was expected to. It’s just uncharacteristic of them to go three and out the way they are doing so often. With the Vikings playing so well, the Packers may be fighting for a wild card spot this year instead of enjoying their typical first round bye.

Rex Ryan returned to New York to face his old team in an emotional Thursday night game. Ryan prevailed as the Bills beat the Jets 22-17. The Bills and Jets have very similar styles but the Bills were the more physical team and were able to force turnovers, giving them the advantage in a hard fought game.

SUB-2-JP-CITY-JETS-2-articleLarge

Rob Ryan, on the other hand lost his defensive coordinator job as the hapless Saints defense allowed 47 points to Kirk Cousins and company. Yeah, that will do it. The Redskins are now 4-5 and right in the thick of the  pathetic, and I mean pathetic, NFC East race.

The Eagles are also 4-5 except they seem to be trending down instead of up as they endured a sickening loss to the Miami Dolphins who were just asking to lose the game. The Eagles are a mess, Sam Bradford wasn’t well protected at all and it cost them. Slammed to the ground in the third quarter he suffered a sprained shoulder on his non throwing arm while also coming away with concussion from the thud. Jason Kelce looks lost. Miles Austin and Riley Cooper combined for over 90 snaps while each failed to receive a single catch. Mark Sanchez threw an excruciating fourth quarter interception. Chip Kelly seems to be overmatched and this team is just simply not that good. They aren’t even fun to watch and Philadelphians are truly over this team, despite being alive in the division race. Can you blame them? It’s one of those “even if they win the division how far can they really go?” type of deals. I still want the Eagles to finish strong and make a playoff push because you never know what could happen, but for now one would be naive to have any real expectations for this middling, injured, uninspired group.

Bill Belichick is one of the best, (if not the best, coaches of this generation, but he always struggles with Tom Coughlin and the Giants and this Sunday was no exception. However, while trailing, Tom Brady in classic Tom Brady fashion drove the team down the field and set up Stephen Gostkowski for a cold blooded 54 yard game winner that took the life right out of Metlife Stadium. Unfortunately for the Pats, Julian Edelman suffered a leg injury and his return this season is in question which comes right after losing Dion Lewis for the year. The Patriots are known for overcoming these kinds of losses so while it is indeed a loss, history suggests they’ll be just find going forward. On the other hand, despite losing the game the Giants probably aren’t too disappointed. They almost knocked off the best team in the world and are still in first place in their division while getting a bye week to fix things up. Not saying they’re going to or should win the division but until another team consistently gets going, they should be relatively confident about their playoff chances.

The undefeated Bengals are now defeated, losing to the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Not necessarily a reason to abandon ship for the Bengals, every team has a hiccup at one point in the season or another. The Texans are now tied for first with the Indianapolis Colts who were on bye in the AFC South. The Colts have been disappointing all season so it’s actually pretty reasonable to expect this to be a real competition for the rest of the season, with the Texans having a legitimate shot to win the division.

Everyone knew the Arizona Cardinals were a good football team, but a lot of people were unsure if they were that good. The answer to that question is yes, yes they are as they secured a clutch win in one of the hardest places to play on earth, Seattle. The Cardinals look like they are the real deal and a real contender that’s built for the long haul, watch out.

Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are the leagues best QB-WR combo and it’s scary. The Steelers beat the Browns and are 6-4 and currently stand in good position to compete for a playoff spot. In reality, with the ever unstable condition of their quarterback, it’s really week to week with this team.

Antonio_Brown_End_Zone_Flip_Touchdown.jpg

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 5

Well, that’s another week of NFL football in the books. Wing filled, beer soaked, fantasy obsessive, NFL football. While I have a rock hard boner for cold weathered, playoff football I get a little depressed as the number of football Sundays shrink at a Devonta Freeman like pace. Let’s check out what the fuck happened in week 5 around the NFL.

Jamal Charles tore his ACL and will be out for the season as the Chiefs suffered a deflating 1 point loss to the Bears. One of those things that just really fucking sucks. This is the second time Charles tore an ACL, this time in his right knee. Charles is currently 28 years old and everyone knows how hard it is for rushers to perform at a high level beyond that age without  a torn ACL. It may seem dramatic but it’s appropriate to wonder if Charles will ever be able to return to form and if he does, for how long? The Chiefs find themselves in a hole at 1-4 and their season may be over. Luckily, they still have a lot of talent on this team so I don’t think a severe overhaul would be necessary. Not to make excuses for them but their schedule has just been absolutely brutal, having already faced Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and the scorching hot Bengals. They still should have been able to best the Bears with or without their star rusher and a team with their expectations should have made their other losses a lot closer. Disappointing season? Yes. Still reasonable to expect them to be successful in the near future? Not so much.

r15986_1296x729_16-9

Speaking of the scorching hot Bengals, they were about to be doused with a bucket of ice cold water, until they weren’t. They trailed Hawks 24-7 in the fourth quarter and rallied all the way back to give Mike Nugent the chance to clank one off the upright and get the W. It’s a big time win for the cats but an even bigger loss for the Seahawks. How did that happen? That’s just so crushing after an energizing, Kam Chancellor returning victory last week. At 2-3 they really cost themselves the luxury of future flukey fuck ups. However, they are a defense oriented team and if they can crack the postseason they will still be a threat to make it pretty damn far. Again, that’s if they can crack the postseason.

There is no excuse for the Ravens losing to the Browns. None. Even without Steve Smith Baltimore should have been able to win this game by at least a touchdown. Instead they’re 1-4 and in last place in the AFC North. Josh McCown had a historic 457 yard passing day. JOSH McCOWN. JOSH FUCKING McCOWN. I have no idea what’s wrong with the Ravens but honestly I don’t hate it. Saves us all the breath we’d waste debating Joe Flacco’s elite status, no matter what side you’re on.

The Patriots won. In other news Chick Fil A is scrumptious and Chris Christie is fat.

The Eagles. Chip Kelly is a bum! Chip Kelly is a genius! Fire Chip Kelly! Eagles are winning the NFC East! Honestly, nobody knows what the fuck the Eagles are about still and anybody who makes a prediction about their season is just wasting their time. The Eagles had a very nice win against the Saints but simply put the Saints suck. That’s no reason to be down or knock them, quite the opposite. Their defense is improving and can force turnovers. They almost hit 200 yards rushing in balanced attack amongst their three talented runners. Josh Huff FINALLY got into the action and caught his first NFL touchdown as he led the team in receiving. Sam Bradford has to get better, he threw two ugly red zone interceptions and those mistakes aren’t going to be as easy to recover from against better teams. Because the Eagles won by 22 points nobody seemed to care about how Caleb Sturgis ineptitude as a kicker as he missed another extra point. That kid better figure it out and fucking fast. With this team it’s a better idea to just take it week to week instead of calculating complex scenarios, just enjoy the ride and hope it doesn’t fall off the fucking tracks.

josh-huff-flip-saints-ap

The Broncos are scaring everyone but I’m still not too concerned. Peyton Manning hasn’t lit it up like he used to but people aren’t realizing how good their defense is playing. They create turnovers, get to the quarterback and a better defense might be even more valuable than a prolific offense come playoff time. Peyton Manning stlll isn’t bad either and they still have talented receivers. They seem to be getting a lot of flack for a team who is undefeated, with more time to figure out this offense they can be a dangerous team if they can put it all together.

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 2, Breaking Down The Debacle In Philadelphia

For this week of Gratz’s Grumblings I will be focusing solely on the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Dallas Cowboys because well, that was the only game I watched this Sunday as I was unfortunate enough to have been there. The abysmal performance from the Eagles cannot be understated. Simply put, that was one of the worst displays of the sport I had ever seen. It’s early in the season, and there’s a lot to break down, definitely not too late to tweak things around and salvage the season, so let’s take a closer look at what the fuck is actually going on with this team after two games.

It’s no secret that the offense was atrocious. I think inept would be the correct word. Demarco Murray was held to 2 yards on 13 carries. Let me repeat that, Demarco Murray was held to 2 yards on 13 carries. However, if you talk to anyone who watched the game they would probably tell you this really didn’t fall on Murray or indicate what kind of runner he is at all. Murray had nowhere to run all game as the line played poorly. Also there was an even bigger problem than the offensive lines woes and Murray’s lack of running space…

Chip Kelly was out coached by Dallas this week and Atlanta last week. It was almost as if Dallas had the Eagles play call on each and every snap. Yes the offensive line played bad but there’s a deeper rooted problem and that is schematically the Eagles are off. This is a huge concern considering so much of Chip Kelly’s success relies on his schemes working each week. Chip Kelly has proven through two seasons that his offense isn’t a gimmick and I believe he is a smart enough coach to figure this thing out.  Whether there is enough talent to really take the offense to next level still remains to be seen. I’m really not too worried about this offense. The biggest concern for me is the line, which don’t get me wrong is a huge question mark going forward but as far as the scheme not working and getting out coached, I think Chip will figure it out.

Sam Bradford didn’t play all that bad. A lot of people are criticizing his play from yesterday but I really don’t think it’s founded. Listen, it’s hard to throw no matter who is under center when the defense knows exactly what you’re doing. The Eagles knew they couldn’t run against Dallas so were forced to pass and play catch up in the second half, what do you expect from Bradford? A Mike Vick type run of 30 yards to put them in scoring position? The red zone interception was a killer and a bad, bad play but I don’t think it’s fair to judge his performance off one mistake. With how the offense as a whole played yesterday that one interception should be at the very bottom on the list of concerns. I don’t think Bradford played particularly well but I don’t think he played poorly either. Again, it’s only his second game since 2013 so it’s going to take some time to get into a groove and get comfortable. He might not turn out to have the pro bowl season some of us thought he would under Chip Kelly but that’s not to say he won’t be effective going forward, and he’s still a whole lot better than Mark Sanchez. Also, he doesn’t exactly have the best receivers with the Eagles…

The receiving core’s ability might be limited this season. I’m sick and tired of defending Jordan Matthews. When they drafted him all I heard about was his tremendous work ethic and thirst for improvement. It was well documented that Matthews didn’t exactly have the most sound hands coming into the NFL but everybody was assured they would improve. Well guess what? He’s still dropping passes, important passes too. On one of his drops he leaped in the air for a pass he really didn’t need to jump at all for. He could have calmly put out his hands and secure the ball but he acted like a kid playing pick up football who was just trying to do too much. Don’t get me wrong I like Jordan Matthews and think he will have a fruitful career with the Eagles but his hands have to get better. It’s only his second year so it’s not really fair to hold him up to an elite standard. That’s really the problem with the receiving group as a whole, they are just young and inexperienced. As I just mentioned Matthews is in his second year and Nelson Agholar is only a rookie. You have to temper your expectations at least for this season. Josh Huff is only in his second year too but the former third rounder really isn’t showing much promise at all. Riley Cooper and Miles Austin are both on the downward sides of their careers which is OK considering they aren’t really supposed to be the focal point anyways. If the wide receivers underperform that falls mostly on Chip Kelly. These are his guys. He made the decision to let Jeremy Maclin walk. That is starting to show its ill effects as the Eagles really don’t have a respectable deep threat at the moment and its hindering them. I don’t remember Sam Bradford taking any big shots down the field because quite frankly we don’t have that type of receiver on the roster yet to throw it to, or we do and he’s not ready for that role at the moment. This hurts too, the five and six yard completions are great and all but when a defense doesn’t respect your ability to go deep it makes it much easier for them, plus it allows them to focus more on run stopping. Like the running game I think the passing game will see a lot of improvement too. If not, it’s another group of decisions you have to question about Chip Kelly. However…

It’s way, waaaay too early to start calling for Kelly’s job. Hey, even if this thing turns out to be a huge bust firing him now would only set us back another half a decade. Then, the next guy would have to bring his people in and the a new process would start and we would have an abundance of new players and recent draft picks who might be the total opposite of what they want. The bottom line is if the Eagles were unsure of Chip Kelly they should cut ties before this season. We’re pot committed at this point. Plus, at the end of the day it’s only two games, Andy Reid once took an 0-2 team to the NFC Championship so step back from the ledge. If the Eagles have a losing record this season then maybe in January we’re having a different conversation.

The defense is probably my greatest concern. I feel like a lot of people are excusing the poor defensive play due to the offense’s inability to stay on the field. That is a valid argument but I trust Chip Kelly’s ability to fix the offense more than I trust Billy Davis’ ability to fix the defense. His play calling seems off, his coverage personnel seems off and even their formations seem off.  Last week when asked why Julio Jones was able to run wild across the defense their response was because it’s hard to play him and double him because he gets lined up all over the field. So? Isn’t that the defensive coordinators job? To account for this and try to find a way to counteract it? There was a play this week where Maxwell was all alone on an island with no receiver on his side and two receivers lined up on the opposite side. It was evident that Maxwell would have no impact on that play, unless they gave it to the running back who was on Maxwells side, but still far from him and unlikely to cross paths with Maxwell. Yes the defense was on the field for a lot of the game but this wasn’t that hard of a game to plan for. Dez Bryant was out leaving the Cowboys with a weak group of playmakers. Their leading rusher from last year is now on the Eagles. Brandon Weeden is…Brandon Weeden. There is no excuse for letting Brandon Weeden go 7 for 7, none. Even when the Eagles knew the Cowboys were going to run the ball at the end of the game they still struggled to stop them. Like the offense, the scheme is off and unfortunately I’m not confident in Billy Davis’ ability to fix it. Speaking of Byron Maxwell though…

Byron Maxwell looked horrendous, again. Like really, really bad. They paid him a boatload of money not because he’s an elite cornerback, but because he was the best at his position in a weak free agency class and the Eagles needed to upgrade that position badly. If he’s unable to cover elite corners (or any corners at all) then the Eagles need to devise a plan that will put him in situations similar to where he found success in the past. That is, unless they can’t because they don’t have the Legion of Boom surrounding him. Maxwell plays better as a zone corner, not as a guy you throw on an island like Darrelle Revis. Whatever his deal is it needs to be figured out immediately.

i-1

Yes, Sundays performance from the birds was dismal. Yes, there are huge question marks on both sides of the ball. Yes, it is early and the Eagles can still turn this thing around and salvage the season. You gotta remember our competition going forward, the Giants and Redskins don’t appear to be playoff teams and the Cowboys are going to be without both Dez Bryant and Tony Romo for an extended amount of time. Somebody has to win this division. Even the mighty Seahawks are 0-2. There’s plenty of reason to be scared silly right now but there is still a lot of football left to be played. Chip Kelly is now going to face the toughest challenge he’s ever faced in Philadelphia and the answer to whether he can handle it or not begins now.