The NFL is definitely a fickle league, one where a single loss has the press jumping on your team like it’s ready to be demoted to the Arena League. Right now, Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles are experiencing this fickleness in full force. Of course, when you allow Kirk Cousins to engineer a 90-yard, game-winning drive against you, then perhaps criticism is deserved.
The Eagles are now 1-3 and mired in last place in a relatively soft NFC East. Yes, they are still 1 game out of first place when considering that New York, Dallas and Washington are all wrapped in a 2-2 pack. But the way it feels, Philadelphia might as well be four games out of first place.
The Redskins game was a perfect example of this as the Eagles made several bonehead plays that cost them what should have been a victory. Two of these can be attributed to rookie receiver Nelson Agholor, who lined up in an illegal formation that wiped out a Zach Ertz touchdown just before halftime; Caleb Sturgis would end up missing a 33-yard field goal. Agholor would later make an outstanding one-handed, 45-yard catch, only to nullify this by botching a handoff from Ryan Matthews on a reverse.
Then there’s the team’s $42-million investment, DeMarco Murray, who, a year after leading the NFL in rushing, had just 36 yards on 8 carries. What’s particularly alarming is that this represented his season high, and he only has 47 yards on 29 carries for the season. At this point last year, with the Dallas Cowboys, he’s reeled off 534 yards on 99 carries – no wonder Murray is complaining about not getting enough carries.
As for Kelly’s revolutionary offense, the one that was supposed to shake up the league….well, he may need to consider shaking his offense up. 8 of the 16 quarters that the Eagles have played have resulted in zero points. When Sam Bradford found Riley Cooper for a 62-yard touchdown in the third quarter, it finally wiped out four straight quarters without a point.
Then there’s the offensive line, which doesn’t know how to block on run or pass plays. Defenders have constantly been in the backfield whenever Murray, Ryan Matthews or Darren Sproles get a handoff. Bradford isn’t faring much better at the QB spot, taking five sacks and getting hit eight other times. At this rate, Bradford is destined for yet another injury plagued season.
So what has to change for this team to start winning? The likely answer all begins with Kelly, who’s taken lots of criticism for his refusal to change. Namely, Kelly believes that his system can win no matter who’s lining up for his team. This is a big reason why he’s shipped off everybody from LeSean McCoy to Nick Foles while thinking they are easily replaceable.
Kelly is a guy who’s already won in the NFL, racking up 10-6 records in his first two seasons in the league. That certainly seems out of the question now, with Philadelphia already halfway to 6 losses. But that doesn’t mean the ex-Oregon coach can’t finally get out of his own way, adapt the way defenses have adapted to his gameplans, and start netting some wins again.