After a 7-15 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles now have an 0-4 record at home. Just as things were beginning to look up, the Eagles have rapidly fallen to 3-5 on the season, following their second straight loss.
Luckily for them, the NFC East continues to struggle. The Eagles remain one game back of the first place Dallas Cowboys.
The Giants never found the end zone on Sunday. The 15 points that were scored by the Giants all came from the leg of kicker Josh Brown, who made a career high 5 field goals.
The Eagles turned in a commendable defensive performance. So what went wrong? Turning our attention to the offensive side of the ball would perhaps give us some answers.
When three different quarterbacks have played significant minutes, in the past three games, it becomes extremely difficult to be efficient offensively or get into any kind of rhythm. Blaming Matt Barkley, who was inserted into the game after Michael Vick left due to a recurring hamstring injury, for the lack of scoring on Sunday is unfair.
Barkley is a promising rookie who has all of the potential in the world, but he is still adjusting to the NFL and is running a playbook that would take even the savviest veteran time to adapt and learn.
The blame for the last two losses goes on the shoulders of the man in charge of that dynamic playbook, Coach Kelly. Chip Kelly has one of the most gifted football players on the planet at his disposal in Lesean McCoy, but has failed tremendously to get him involved in the last two games.
It is easy for defenses to prioritize McCoy when a rookie quarterback is in the game. But having your star running back carry the ball only 15 times when your opponent is only up by 8 points is nothing short of absurd. It is the running game that is supposed to open up the passing game, not vice versa.
Although Barkley was not driving up and down the field at will, he was efficient, completing 17 of his 26 pass attempts. An efficient passing game coupled with the league’s best rushing offense should be enough to defeat a Giants defense that ranks 28th in points allowed.
Coach Kelly’s impressive resume with the Oregon Ducks and his trademark offensive playbook can, at times, cause people to forget that he is still a first year head coach and has some learning to do.
Pounding the ball on first and second down is not the sexy style of football that we frequently see today, let alone Chip Kelly’s style of football. But a rookie quarterback’s best friend is a solid running game. Coach Kelly is not on the field making tackles or catching passes and players should be held accountable. But at the same time, it is the coach’s responsibility to put his players in the best position to succeed.
On Sunday, Kelly did not do that. This can even be traced back to his decision to start Michael Vick. While I’m sure Vick was chirping in Kelly’s ear to let him play, he should not have played. Now, the offense may be without Vick for longer than originally anticipated.
The Eagles are fortunate to find themselves in second place in the NFC East. A high dosage of the NFL’s leading rusher is going to be crucial to the Eagles’ attempts at surpassing the Dallas Cowboys and maintaining a steady lead over the improving Redskins and Giants.
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