What’s Wrong with Chip Kelly and the Eagles?

chip-kelly-eagles-2015The 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.

sam-bradford-eaglesThen 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.

2015 NFC East Betting Preview: Cowboys ride Away with Title Again

dez-bryantThe NFC East has been a pretty bad division in recent years, but last year did feature an exciting two-team race between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles bolted out to a 6-2 start, only to stumble to 10-6, while Dallas played its best football down the stretch and won the division with a 12-4 record. New York and Washington have been non-competitive the last two seasons, but could they make this a three or four-team race in 2015? Let’s find out…

4th in Division: Washington Redskins; 4-12 W/L Projection

Strengths: The Redskins suffered another disappointing campaign in 2014, ultimately finishing 4-12. If they’re to do any better this time around, the defensive line will anchor them. Led by Jason Hatcher, the D-line features lots of depth with the additions of Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea. Outside linebacker will be another plus for this team, as they have Ryan Kerrigan, Junior Galette and second-round pick Preston Smith. The secondary isn’t very good, but quarterback pressure should help mask their deficiencies.

robert-griffin-iii-2015Weaknesses: Washington seems a long time removed from the magical 2012 season, where Robert Griffith III led them to a division title as a rookie. He hurt his knee towards the end of that year, but his problems now come from a mental standpoint. He’ll get yet another shot to reclaim his glory, with weapons Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson helping. But until he proves otherwise, RG III, who’s 5-15 in his last 20 starts, just isn’t a winner right now.

3rd in Division: New York Giants; 8-8 W/L Projection

eli-manningStrengths: Eli Manning went from the worst season of his career to the best in short order, throwing for 4,410 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2014. And this despite the fact that major weapons like Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashad Jennings all missed plenty of games due to injury. Manning has them all back this year, along with newcomer Shane Vereen, making this one of the most-explosive offenses in the league.

Weaknesses: The Giants appear to be a typical case of good offense trying to carry a suspect defense. The D-line and secondary are solid, but linebacker could be a mess this year. Jon Beason is the only proven commodity here, and New York is still trying to figure out who will man the other linebacker spots.

2nd in Division: Philadelphia Eagles; 9-7 W/L Projection

darren-sproles-eaglesStrengths: Few teams in the NFL have had as many moving parts as Philadelphia did during the offseason. The exchange definitely appears to be a win for the running back position, with LeSean McCoy exiting, but DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews replacing him. They’ll join Darren Sproles in what is the league’s most-loaded backfield; expect #1 rushing stats from this three-headed RB committee.

Weaknesses: New QB Sam Bradford could be an upgrade over Nick Foles, or a disaster when injuries are taken into account. Bradford hasn’t played an NFL game since the middle of the 2013 season, because he’s torn his ACL twice since then. Assuming he gets hurt again, Mark Sanchez will take the reigns, which is a definite downgrade. Add in the loss of top wideout Jeremy Maclin, and everything is up in the air for the passing game.

1st in Division: Dallas Cowboys; 11-5 W/L Projection

tony-romo-cowboysStrengths: The offensive line for the Cowboys is outstanding at both pass protection and clearing running lanes. This means that we should once again expect a great campaign from Tony Romo, who finished with a 69.9 completion percentage and 113.2 quarterback rating – both first in the NFL. His favorite target, Dez Bryant, will certainly benefit from Romo’s accuracy in 2015. Terrance Williams, Devin Street and TE Jason Witten will also see plenty of targets.

Weaknesses: It’s little secret that the Dallas secondary will plague them this season. Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox are one of the worst starting safety duos in the NFL, while Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr aren’t much better at cornerback. First-round draft pick Byron Jones will help, but he can’t man all the secondary positions and he lacks experience. So bottom line: expect plenty of shootouts from Dallas, with them winning a majority of the time.

DeMarco Murray’s Impact on Philadelphia’s Odds to win Super Bowl?

demarco-murray-cowboys-2014Well, the Philadelphia Eagles betting odds to win the 2015/16 Super Bowl just got a lot better with the signing of DeMarco Murray. After testing the free agent waters, the former Dallas Cowboys running back signed a 5-year, $42 million deal with Philadelphia, with $21 million of this amount being guaranteed.

It’s little surprise to see Murray get major money this season after gaining 1,845 rushing yards last year – a Cowboys’ single-season record. He also added 64 catches for 416 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.

Despite his stellar production, Dallas reportedly only offered in the $6 million range to retain Murray’s services. Like some teams around the league, the Cowboys chose not to pay a premium for a player who, up until this season, had missed time with various injuries.

As Dallas owner Jerry Jones added, the team’s salary cap is an issue here too. Here’s one excerpt from Jones’ farewell statement to his former star running back:

“We are very grateful to DeMarco Murray for his contributions to the Dallas Cowboys. He is a quality person, a very good football player, and a player that we wanted to keep.

We have great appreciation for his skills, and if there was no salary cap in place, DeMarco would be a Cowboy. This came down to an allocation of dollars within the management of the salary cap.

Obviously there is emotion involved in these decisions, but it is critical that there be must be discipline involved as well. If it were a question of having an open checkbook with no salary cap constraints, we all know things would have worked out differently. We have recently made significant commitments to top players who are currently on the team, specifically at key positions such as quarterback, left tackle and wide receiver, and we were comfortable with the offer that we made to DeMarco to include him in that structure.”

demarco-murrayIt’s interesting that Murray is going to the Eagles, given that their star back, LeSean McCoy, will now be suiting up for the Buffalo Bills. McCoy had another strong season for Philadelphia last year with 1,319 rushing yards, however, his receiving yards (155) and yards per carry (4.2) were down significantly in a new role. The hope is that Murray can provide more efficiency and youth (he’s played two less seasons than McCoy) moving forward.

Philadelphia had a very disappointing end to the 2014/15 season. After leading the NFC East most of the year, which included a 5-1 start, they faltered down the stretch and finished 10-6, one game behind the Cowboys. What especially hurt is that they dropped three of their final four contests, including losses to Dallas and Washington, to essentially give away the NFC East crown.

So head coach Chip Kelly has made sure that major changes were instituted. Besides bringing Murray in, they traded McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso, and also traded quarterback Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. Some have scrutinized the moves, but it’s clear that Kelly has some kind of vision here.

Now the question is if all of these major moves will pan out. Currently, GTBets.eu has Philly at 25-to-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl, however, these are likely to improve with the addition of Murray.