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.