Posted: October 5th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 213 Comments »
Chip Kelly says there is one key thing wrong with the Eagles: execution.
I think he’s right.
To many people, this comes across as some kind of excuse. That is not the case. Poor execution is the answer. There is no excuse.
Think about three critical errors from Sunday. Darren Sproles dropped a pass on 3rd down that would have put the Eagles at the WAS 40 in the 4th quarter. Jordan Matthews dropped a 3rd down pass late in the game that would have kept a drive going. Nelson Agholor lined up incorrectly and that cost the Eagles a TD late in the 1st half.
Sproles is a terrific receiver with 433 career catches. He normally snatches that ball. Matthews is coming off a very good rookie year and has played well this season. Normally he makes that catch. Agholor might be a rookie, but not lining up on the line of scrimmage with a TE to your side is basic football that goes back to his days as a kid. Agholor is a smart player. He should have paid attention and moved back.
Those three simple errors might have been the difference in winning and losing. Basic execution. You aren’t asking players to do something they can’t. You aren’t asking them to go above and beyond.
The situation would be very different if Trey Burton had a key drop. He doesn’t have an extended history as a pass catcher in college or the NFL. It would be different if DeMarco Murray was split out wide and lined up incorrectly. He’s not a guy that does that very often.
Think back to 2012, painful as that might be. Andy Reid got too cute in some key situations. The Eagles threw a goal line pass to OL Matt Tennant, who dropped it. The game was close at the time, but Cincy went on to take control of that game. In a late season game against Washington, Reid designed a pass play to go to TE Evan Moore, who had been with the team less than a week. Certainly the defense wouldn’t expect him to be the target on 1st and goal with 11 seconds left. Moore was open, but couldn’t make the catch.
Those were technically execution errors because the design of the play worked, but the design was flawed because it didn’t take into account who the players were and what was asked of them.
Kelly isn’t asking players to do something they can’t. For some reason, players are simply making mistakes.
Identifying the problem is fine, but solving it is the tricky part. I honestly don’t know how you do that.
How do you get a baseball player out of a slump? You go over the fundamentals, but at a certain point it is up to the hitter to see the pitch and make a good swing. Kelly trusts his players. He will keep throwing to Sproles and Matthews. He expects them to deliver most of the time.
The frightening thought is what if the team keeps screwing up. We could be looking at 2007 all over again. The 2006 Eagles were good. The 2008 Eagles were good. The 2007 team was not good. They were the masters of losing close games.
GB – Torturous loss. RZ issues. Takeo Spikes dropped an easy INT. Greg Lewis failed to field a punt late in the game and the Eagles lost 16-13.
WAS – The Skins got a TD late in the half (weird circumstances). The Eagles drove deep late in the game, but Kevin Curtis couldn’t hold on to a pass from McNabb and they lost 20-12.
CHI – Torturous loss. Eagles were 1 for 4 in the Red Zone and led 16-12 with 1:57 left. Bears started at their 3-yard line. They drove down for the winning TD and won 19-16. Incredibly weird play in the game. From ESPN:
The Bears caught a break in the fourth on a bad snap that seemed disastrous, but instead turned out to be only a 5-yard penalty. On an apparent bit of miscommunication, the snap sailed through Griese’s legs and was recovered by safety Sean Considine, who took off running.
Because the ball was snapped beyond a quarterback under center, the play was whistled dead and Chicago was hit with a false start. The Bears settled for Robbie Gould‘s 45-yard field goal that ticked off an upright for a 12-9 lead.
NE – Banged up Eagles at great Pats. No Dawk. No McNabb. Eagles played terrific, but AJ Feeley threw 3 INTs, including a pick-six to Asante Samuel. Lost 31-28. Led in the 4th quarter.
SEA – Torturous loss. Feeley was 19 of 42 and threw 4 INTs. Eagles trailed 28-24 late. Brian Westbrook ran a punt back to the SEA 10 with 1:16 left. Feeley was picked off to seal the game.
NYG – Eagles led ugly game 10-6 in mid-3rd. Giants scored 10 straight points to go up 16-10. Eagles got inside the 10-yard line, but had to settle for a FG. David Akers had 57-yarder to tie with seconds left, but just missed.
The Eagles finished that year 8-8. They were 5-8 before winning the final three games of the year. The team started 0-2 and didn’t get back to .500 until they were 5-5. That team was only blown out once all year (DAL 38-17), but they made crucial mistakes that kept them from winning.
Kelly has to figure out which buttons to push to get the current Eagles to snap out of their funk. At a certain point, people will quit caring why the Eagles are struggling. All they will talk about is the struggling.
There is a ton of time left in the 2015 season, but the Eagles can’t afford to keep digging this hole deeper. Things are tough enough at 1-3.
Posted: October 5th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 480 Comments »
The Eagles are 1-3. They are dead last in the NFC East, which looks like a weak division. Things are not….good. What does this mean in terms of the big picture?
The first question is whether Chip Kelly is on the hot seat. No. Modern society tends to live in the moment. Sometimes perspective can be valuable. Kelly went 10-6 each of his first two years. He’s off to a slow start this year, but that doesn’t dismiss what he’s done up to this point.
Kelly has a lot of critics right now. Some are people that have hated him since day one, while others are just jumping on the bandwagon. They will put him on hot seat lists, but that is media talk and not reality. Jeff Lurie isn’t the type of owner to make rash decisions. He will let the season play out.
Lurie believes in Chip. He hired him back in 2013 and this past offseason gave Chip total control of football operations. Lurie would have to believe that Chip isn’t the man to run the Eagles and that there is another coach out there who needs to be brought in. I just don’t think that is likely when you’re in Year 3 under a coach and most of the tenure has been successful.
Could Lurie strip him of his GM powers? That’s possible. Not to be boring, but we need to see how things play out. Lurie is a patient man who tends to trust the people working for him. I think things would have to be disastrously bad for a change to be made. We’re all very frustrated right now, but some of Kelly’s moves have worked.
Walter Thurmond has been very good at FS. Heck, you can argue the Eagles have one of the best Safety tandems in the league right now. Jordan Hicks has been terrific at ILB, rookie or otherwise. Ryan Mathews has played well. Nelson Agholor just had his best game of the year.
Obviously the Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell moves have not panned out as hoped yet. Bradford just had his best game of the year, but he has been disappointing overall. Murray is still waiting for his breakout game. Maxwell was bad in the opener, but has been better since. He’s still way too up and down, though. He’s getting paid to be a good corner and that just hasn’t happened so far.
Kelly might have made mistakes in acquiring these players. We need to let more of the season play out before we know anything for sure. We have not seen these guys at their best. The question is if we will, and if so…will that be a game or an extended period.
I honestly don’t know what to make of Bradford. He was awfully passive for 3 weeks, but came out and played aggressively today. He showed some real signs of life. If not for a couple of drops, he might have ended up having a great game and leading the team to a win.
Murray needs to get healthy. He got 8 carries today, which isn’t nearly enough. Kelly would love to feed him the ball, but the circumstances have to be right. The Eagles can’t be down big. The O-line has to be winning some battles. And Murray has to be healthy. That just hasn’t happened so far this year.
Maxwell got overpaid. There is no question about that. The Eagles were desperate for corner help and he was the best available that didn’t cost an outrageous amount. I do expect him to play better than he has. Maxwell is dealing with different circumstances than ever before. Suddenly, he’s the best corner on the team. That was never the case in Seattle. He used to play for a ball-control offense. That’s changed, to put it mildly. He also used to play on a great defense. That’s not the case in Philly.
One of the reasons I keep talking about the need to wait is that we need to see what the long term problems are with this team. We can all talk about what we think the problems are now, but we don’t know for a fact.
This time last year all the questions were about what was wrong with LeSean McCoy. Through 4 games last year he had 69 carries for 192 yards, less than 3 yards per carry. The OL got healthy and then McCoy started to play like his old self. Remember that Trent Cole got off to a very slow start in 2013, but then got hot red hot down the stretch and made plenty of big plays. Conversely, Malcolm Jenkins had an INT in games 2-4 last year and looked like an elite playmaker, but hasn’t picked off a pass since.
You need more than a few games before you can make certain judgments on players.
I still believe Chip Kelly is a good coach and will get this situation fixed. I hope that happens this year, but after a 1-3 start there are no guarantees. This team has to get right in a hurry and that just might not happen. The team has shown flashes to this point, but has yet to play a good game. That shouldn’t be the case after a month.
Kelly is eating up some of the goodwill he built up in 2013 and 2014 and there isn’t an infinite supply of that. He needs the Eagles to start winning and some of his key decisions to start looking better. If not, he could find himself legitimately on the hot seat in 2016.
A quick note about Kelly and the future. A lot of people love to talk about him going back to college to save Texas or some other big program like that. Not likely.
Kelly hated dealing with boosters at Oregon. They tolerated the cold shoulder he gave them because he kept winning big. Oregon has one huge booster in Phil Knight. Beyond that, the group is nothing like most football factories. Texas has the most demanding boosters in the nation. Kelly would never go there.
He wants to stay in the NFL. You deal with one owner, not a group of boosters.
Posted: October 4th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 480 Comments »
Losing to the Skins is never fun, but it is even worse when you build a lead and then watch Kirk Cousins march right down the field and throw the game-winning TD.
There were some good moments, but that was a really tough loss. The Eagles are now 1-3 and 0-2 in the division.
There is still a lot of season left, but the Eagles are now 2 games below .500. They do have some home games coming up, but I don’t even know if that’s a good thing. The team has struggled at The Linc since the end of 2013.
We have another long, miserable week to look forward to. Ugh.
Posted: October 4th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 554 Comments »
That was ugly. Bad weather, injuries and bad football combined to make the 1st half fairly miserable.
The good news is that the Eagles are one play from being right back in it. The OL struggled for part of the opening half. They settled down late, with Matt Tobin at LT and Dennis Kelly at RG. Sam Bradford completed a deep ball and threw another downfield pass. He then had a real nice TD wiped out by a penalty.
The offense has to sustain drives and score points.
The defense is missing Brandon Bair and is now down to Cox, Logan, Allen and Curry on the DL. That group will really wear down if the offense can’t sustain some drives.
This game is still there for the taking, but the dumb penalties and sloppy play must stop.
Posted: October 4th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 433 Comments »
Weather will be a factor today. There is rain in D.C., but also some wind. I don’t know if that favors either team. We’ll have to wait and see.
Here are the inactives for today:
QB Thad Lewis
OL Julian Vandervelde
DE Ced Thornton
DE Taylor Hart
LB Marcus Smith
LB Kiko Alonso
S Chris Maragos
The absence of Maragos will affect the Nickel D. We’ll have to wait and see how Davis handles that. He’s also the team’s best STer.
You hate to see Smith inactive when he’s healthy.
DeMarco Murray will play. He will probably start. Let’s hope he can get going.
As for the Skins…
That means CB Chris Culliver will play, despite being banged up. The Eagles need to test the Skins corners.
***** Read the rest of this entry »