Last week the Eagles scored 16 points. This week the starters put up 13 points. The offense is clearly struggling.
Or is it? Jimmy Bama wrote an outstanding piece showing that the offense is doing some great things. Historic things, actually. But there is a problem.
• And yet, despite all of the extremely impressive numbers above, the Eagles are a “good not great” 11th in points per game, with 24.8.
• They’re eating up yards like Pacman eats up delicious white pellets, but they’re not scoring enough. In fact, the Eagles are 24th in “yards per point,” with 18.5. On that metric, the lower the number, the better. There are 8 teams who have a higher “yards per point” total than the Eagles. They are the Cardinals, Raiders, Steelers, Browns, Giants, Jets, Buccaneers, and Jaguars. The combined records of those 8 teams: 7-25.
Red Zone struggles.
Drives ended by turnovers.
As Chip Kelly said, “We’re stopping ourselves.”
In the KC game alone, there were 4 drives that ended in KC territory, but gave the Eagles no points. There were 2 punts, a turnover and a missed FG. You shouldn’t cross midfield 4 times in a game and come away empty.
That only happened twice in the Chargers game. We scored 16 points against KC and 30 against the Chargers. The empty drives isn’t the only difference, but you can see that it had an impact.
Part of the problem is the new system. Part is on skill players not making plays (drops for instance). Part is on inconsistent OL play.
And part is on Mike Vick. He has only one TD pass in the RZ this year (to Riley Cooper vs the Chargers). Vick has more TDs from the 20-30 range. The only QBs with a worse Red Zone passer rating than Vick…Carson Palmer (ARZ) and Chad Henne (JAX).
There have already been grumblings to bench Vick. I’m not on board with that. I think he deserves at least a couple of more weeks before we get into that discussion. The Eagles are playing bad teams in the Giants and Bucs. The start of this season has been tough. There were 3 games in 11 days and then a trip to play the best team in the league in a tough setting.
Let’s see what Vick can do in the next 2 weeks. If the offense isn’t getting back into the 20’s, Kelly might lose his patience and make a move. At the least, he’d start to consider it. Chip can deal with losing, but not scoring points has to be torturous to him.
I think one thing that may have hurt Vick was the lack of pass rush in the Chargers game. He was able to sit in the pocket and survey the field. Vick then picked apart the Chargers defense. The last 2 weeks Vick hasn’t had time to do that. It seems like he hasn’t adjusted his internal clock.
It also hurts that both KC and Denver played lots of man coverage. That took away the quick screens to the WRs. Kelly didn’t just give up on those plays. You can’t run them when the other team is playing press-man.
Some of you are upset at the lack of adjustments. There is some validity to this, but all too often this is a catch-all phrase that fans and the media throw around when a team isn’t having success. Kelly might have called some different wrinkles. If they aren’t working, you won’t always be able to tell there were adjustments.
I know the focus of some of this is on the use of TEs. The Eagles did use 2 TEs more yesterday than in some other games. James Casey played early (not sure if 2 or 3 TE set) and he caught a pass. The problem is that you only want to go heavy with TEs if that creates a favorable matchup. Kelly didn’t see that as the case yesterday. Maybe he will next week.
Kelly is a smart offensive coach. He’s going to use formations that give the Eagles a favorable matchup. He’ll be wrong from time to time, but not on a consistent basis. Kelly always has specific reasons for the things he does. Unfortunately, he can’t always tell us why.
Kelly has focused more on the O-line than other areas in terms of criticism. I’m still working on the tape, but there is no question that the OL has under-performed in the last 2 weeks. Even a mobile QB like Vick is going to struggle when he doesn’t have good protection. The Eagles must win up front. The last 2 weeks have been disappointing.
Vick and Kelly must do something to get the ball out quicker. That takes pressure off the OL and it frustrates the defense. It also gets the ball to playmakers in space. Either Kelly needs to adjust the calls he’s making or Vick needs to adjust the reads he’s making. The ball must get out quicker more consistently.
I know many of you think the problem is a lack of weapons at WR opposite of DeSean. Losing Maclin hurt the offense for sure, but the Eagles still should have a more consistent passing attack than they do. Someone asked about Jeff Maehl getting more snaps after his catches yesterday. I’d be willing to give him a few more plays, but don’t overrate what he did at the end of a blowout.
Kelly feels like the offense is close. He sees the Eagles problems as mostly self-inflicted. If they can just clean things up, the points will come. I understand where he’s coming from, but I’m not sure I totally agree. This isn’t college where you have young guys making mistakes. You have seasoned veterans like Vick, Celek and Herremans making mistakes. Can you fix those guys? Maybe. Maybe not. Kelly will sure try.
I do agree with Kelly that the offense is better off than some critics think. This offense does seem really close at times. I’ve suffered through years when the team struggled to move the ball, let alone score. 1st down were worthy of celebration. Kelly’s task is to turn those yards and that potential into points and not “What if’s”. Doesn’t matter if he does this by schematic adjustments, lineup changes or voodoo. You need points to win in the NFL.