Trusting Chip

Posted: November 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 173 Comments »

I use the phrase “I trust Chip Kelly” more than a few times. I think most of you read that and get what I’m saying. I’m sure some of you take that to mean blind obedience and a refusal to question him. That’s not the case at all.

I trust Chip because of his track record and his style of coaching. He was part of the staff that helped build New Hampshire into a I-AA football power. Chip then went to Oregon and had success as an assistant and as the head coach. He took Oregon to a level they’d never been to and the program has stayed there even the past couple of years due to his foundation. Chip headed to the NFL where he is 17-9 and on pace to make the playoffs 2 years in a row.

Beyond winning, his teams have all kinds of statistical accomplishments. Chip isn’t winning based on fiery speeches, luck or grit. He knows how to develop outstanding units that can operate at a record-setting level. That isn’t an accident when you do it for more than a decade.

Beyond results, Kelly gets style points. He hires good assistants. His players love him. Kelly is open to being questioned on why he does things. Andy Reid’s obsession with the passing game made sense to him and a very small minority of coaches that worship the forward pass. The rest of the world was utterly confounded. Chip wants the right results. He doesn’t care if the team runs or throws. He wants to score points. He asks logical questions and then follows the line of thinking to the logical conclusion.

Chip has definitive reasons behind just about everything he does. There is a plan. There is a method. Success isn’t an accident.

So when fans start to grumble about something…Chip can’t beat good teams or Chip doesn’t know how to draft or Chip can’t handle star players…a lot of times I mention that I trust Chip.

The most precious commodity for a coach is time. He needs time to implement his ideas. He needs time to adjust the roster the way he wants it. He needs time to develop young players. He needs time to mold the team how he wants it. And so on. We are only 1.63 years into the Chip Kelly Era. So far, he’s done nothing but win.

Are there concerns with the Eagles? Yes, absolutely. I just think we need some perspective at times. Eagles fans are desperate to win the Super Bowl. But that takes time. Pete Carroll won in  his 4th season in Seattle (8th overall as NFL head coach). John Harbaugh won the SB in his 5th year with the Ravens. Mike McCarthy won in his 5th year with the Packers. Sean Payton won in his 4th year with the Saints. Noticing a trend?

Coaches need time to figure out what is working and what isn’t. The good ones adjust. Chip isn’t married to one single idea. He has made adjustments to his schemes over the years. He will tweak things to get the best results. And there will be some problems along the way.

It is fair to question the past couple of drafts.I don’t think anyone will have issues with Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz or Bennie Logan. After that, things are less impressive. The Eagles tried to trade up into the 3rd round to get Matt Barkley, but had to wait for the 4th to take him. Barkely hasn’t played enough to be called a bust, but he hasn’t played well enough in the offseason or at Training Camp to even push for a job. After him you have Earl Wolff, Joe Kruger, Jordan Poyer and David King. Wolff has NFL ability but injuries have ruined this season for him. The other 3 are gone from the Eagles and never impressed all that much.

A lot of people are questioning the Marcus Smith pick from this past draft. Josh Huff is someone that fans love to rip. Jaylen Watkins, Taylor Hart and Ed Reynolds are total wild cards right now. The best players are 2nd rounder Jordan Matthews and 7th rounder Beau Allen.

Howie Roseman runs the drafts, but he is taking players that Chip wants. Remember that Matthews, Watkins and Reynolds all came to Philly on visits and wowed the coaches in their pre-draft visits. That had some effect on their grade or where they were placed on the board. Matthews has clearly panned out (future star), but the other two are huge question marks. Should Kelly focus as much on how the players did with showing football knowledge on pre-draft visits? This is a fair question.

Chip and Howie will evaluate how they’re doing things. They’ll look for trends, both good and bad. They want to get this right. All teams miss on some picks. The draft is an inexact science. The key is to limit your mistakes and hit on your early picks.

Think about big games. The Eagles lost at Denver last year. They lost at Green Bay this year. They lost in the playoffs last year. There were very close losses at SF and ARZ. Is there something Chip needs to do differently? Does he need to mix in a fiery speech on occasion? Does he need to be more aggressive (onside kicks, fake punts, going for it on 4th downs, etc.)? Those are all fair questions. Chip won big games at Oregon, but this is the NFL. Maybe he does need to mix things up. Maybe more psychology is required.

As for star players, Chip had to deal with Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson in 2013. Both were unhappy in the offseason, but Vick changed his tune very quickly. He didn’t want to have to win the QB job. Once he moved past that as an issue, Vick went and won the job. Problem over. There wasn’t one issue with Jackson, but clearly he didn’t fit with the culture that Chip was trying to establish. I’m sure Chip learned from the experience. He’ll have to deal with a diva WR or CB at some point in the future. Hopefully that situation will go better.

Chip is not a perfect coach. But he is smart and he’s open-minded. Guys like that tend to learn from mistakes and situations that don’t work out as hoped. Most of his decisions have proven to be right the first time around. As for getting the other situations fixed…I trust him.



Posted: November 19th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 218 Comments »

The Eagles are 1-3 this season against teams with winning records. Does this mean anything? Pop open a can of cold PBR and let’s talk about it.

In a word…no.

There are 3 factors for judging a game: who did you play, when did you play them, where did you play them. The Eagles beat the 8-6 Chicago Bears by 43 points. The Bears then finished the season 8-8. Chicago needed that game to make the playoffs. It was crucial for them and they were at home. The Eagles dominated the entire game and won 54-11. Nice win, but because the Bears finished 8-8 it wasn’t against a team with a winning record.

Earlier in the year the Eagles won in Green Bay 27-13. Green Bay was 5-3 entering the game, but Aaron Rodgers missed the game due to injury. That win came in the middle of a down stretch for the Packers, but they still finished 8-7-1. That was a win vs a team with a winning record.

Which win was more impressive?

I have no problem with checking a team’s record vs teams with winning records and using that as a simple tool, but it doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. Houston is now 5-5. If they win next week, the Eagles will suddenly be 2-3 against teams with winning records. The Rams are 4-6. They could get hot and finish with a winning record.

SF is 6-4 and has a win against the winning Eagles. Good for them. But the Eagles OL in that game was a huge mess. And it took Riley Cooper dropping a TD for the Niners to secure the win. Just how impressive is that? SF went to the Saints and won. New Orleans now has a losing record, but that was an impressive win because of where the game was played. It is brutally hard to win in the dome.

Seattle went 4-3 against teams with winning records during the regular season. That’s good, but not special. They went 3-0 in the postseason. That’s all that matters.

The Eagles were 2-3 in 2013. They lost so SD, KC and DEN in a row, all early in the season. After that the Eagles won vs GB and ARZ. The Eagles did go 2-1 vs .500 teams. It wasn’t as if they only beat last place opponents.

I think something more important would be to play more games against winning teams. Back in 2008 the Eagles almost made it to the Super Bowl. The team was just 9-6-1 in the regular season. They were 5-4 against teams with winning records. Those tough games got them ready for the postseason and helped them understand what the playoffs would be like.

I have written before about how the down nature of the NFC East is bad for the Eagles. You need good teams to challenge you, to push you. As much fun as it is to watch the Skins turn into a dumpster fire and Eli into an INT machine, that actually hurts the Eagles. Seattle won the SB last year and came out of the toughest division in football. The Ravens won the year before and the AFC North is always tough. That year two teams went 10-6. The Steelers were 8-8. Cleveland was just 5-11, but were very competitive after an 0-5 start.

The AFC East has been a weak division for years. I think that has hurt the Patriots and has played a part in them not winning another Super Bowl. New England knows how to beat good teams, but they aren’t getting pushed, week-in and week-out. That’s what a good division can do for you.

The regular season gets you ready for the playoffs. The more tough teams you play, the better off you are. You need to be challenged. The intensity level goes up a nothing in the postseason. You can’t just adjust to that unless the team has experienced moments or even games like that during the year.

The Eagles are 1-3 against teams with winning records. They still have Dallas (2) and Seattle left to play. That could be 3 more games, but there are no guarantees both teams finish as winners. Seattle is 6-4 and doesn’t have an easy game left on the schedule. Dallas is 7-3, but has been addicted to 8-8 finishes in recent years. If the Eagles sweep them, who knows where Dallas ends up.

Of course you can always cheer for Houston, Carolina and St. Louis to get above .500 so those wins, which aren’t impressive now, can be used in a future argument about how impressive the Eagles ended up against teams with winning records.



Active Day for the Eagles

Posted: November 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 67 Comments »

The Eagles made some moves on Tuesday.

* Earl Wolff went to IR. He’s struggled with injuries all year long. I get the feeling the team thinks Wolff might be healthier than he thinks he is. Chip Kelly has said the team will never force a player to play, but he also says the #1 ability is durability. I think the team is highly frustrated with Wolff and how he has handled this season. The Eagles thought he would challenge for a starting role. Wolff was a non-factor on defense and even STs when he did play.

My guess is that Wolff comes back in 2015, but he’ll be on a short leash. Nagging injuries won’t be tolerated for a second season.

This really is a shame. Wolff showed good potential last year.

* The Eagles signed CB Roc Carmichael to take Wolff’s spot on the roster. Carmichael isn’t anything special as a player, but he fits. He can play in the slot or outside. He is a good STs player. Carmichael was added for depth purposes and he makes sense because of that.

* The Eagles made a couple of lineup shuffles. With Carmichael being added to the CB rotation, rookie Jaylen Watkins was moved to Safety. He has taken reps at both spots so he can help the team wherever he’s needed. I still like him more as a CB than a S. I don’t think he tackles well enough to be a primary run defender. The Eagles obviously feel differently.

* RG Matt Tobin did not practice today. Per Jeff McLane, he missed time due to a concussion. Andrew Gardner was in his place as the RG. McLane also mentions that Gardner might have gotten some reps even without the injury concerns. Tobin has shown that he can be a good run blocker, but he is inconsistent with pass protection. He was beaten by a DT on the opening drive and that led to Mark Sanchez taking a big hit and being sacked.

Gardner played RG for part of the 3rd and all of the 4th quarters in the win over Houston a couple of weeks back. He was very good as a run blocker. Tobin has spent most of his time in college and the NFL blocking on the left side. Some guys handle changing sides better than others.

* * * * *

I thought Bill Davis did a good job at his press conference.

He answered questions about Bradley Fletcher in a pretty honest way. He talked about some strategic moves that didn’t work so well and why that was. He talked about Marcus Smith.

I think Davis does a good job of offering honest answers to tough questions. He’s not in la-la land acting as if his unit is just fine, but he also doesn’t sit there and just needlessly rip his guys.

* * * * *

Would love to see Avant go to KC or some other team that is winning games, but still needs some WR help. Really needs to be with a pocket passer in a WCO type system to thrive.

* * * * *

Happy Birthday to the best Eagles LB I ever saw play…


Misc Monday Night Stuff

Posted: November 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 277 Comments »

There isn’t any breaking news from today so let me touch on some topics brought up in the comments section.

* Fixing the secondary – How could Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly pass on Aqib Talib and Darrelle Revis to keep the current corners? Complicated question. Both guys had big price tags. Both guys have baggage. That combination might have been enough to scare off the Eagles. Let’s not forget they tried adding stars back in 2011 with Nnamdi and DRC and that didn’t go as planned. Kelly and Bill Davis like the current corners more than fans and the media, but they do know the position must be upgraded. Will likely be a priority this offseason to add one starting CB and maybe draft another one or two.

The team does like Jaylen Watkins but it would be very hard to project him as a starter for the future with him having played so little.

I don’t know why Nolan Carroll isn’t getting a chance at LCB. I’d like to see him out there. The coaches feel differently.

* Judging Mark Sanchez – I made the point that we need to give him time to see what he is. But don’t we know from his time in NY? No. We know who Sanchez was in those circumstances, but this is very different. He may turn out to be the same guy, but that’s not a given. I believe we need to see Sanchez play on this team in this system for a month before we know if he’s a different guy or the same guy in a different uniform and zip code.

Tiki Barber was a fumbling machine before Tom Coughlin fixed him. Then he was completely different.

Compare Marshawn Lynch the Buffalo Bill vs Lynch the Seahawk.

Circumstances and coaching can make a vast difference even with a player who has been in the league for several years.

* Should we hate Josh Huff? – He’s made mistakes and there is no denying that. He doesn’t deal well with the media, which only makes matters worse. Chip Kelly recruited him to Oregon, coached him for 3 years and then drafted him. Kelly clearly believes in Huff. I trust Chip on this one. Let’s hope the the payoff is worth the rookie mistakes.

* GB holding – I didn’t notice the Packers getting away with tons of holding, but that is something I could have missed. If they did, the Eagles OL should have done a better job of holding when they had the chance. As Bill Davis says, you adjust to how the officials are calling the game.

* Eagles vs teams with winning records – This topic needs a full post.

* * * * *

Losing games like the team did on Sunday can get the best of us. Please keep things civil and friendly in the comments section. We don’t always have to agree, but don’t let things get personal. You can argue without attacking.


Group Failure

Posted: November 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 277 Comments »

Don’t blame Bradley Fletcher. Or Mark Sanchez. Blame the Philadelphia Eagles. Sunday’s blowout loss was not on one player or even a few guys. That was a total team breakdown. The Eagles were outplayed on offense, defense and STs. When the bright spot for the game is that no one died, I think that gives you an idea just what an ugly day it was.

Look at how my goals shifted over time:

4pm – Win the game, constantly pressure Aaron Rodgers and make him regret ever taking the field against us.

430pm – Please don’t give up any more deep balls to Jordy Nelson

5pm – Let’s win with an exciting comeback

530pm – If we have to lose, let’s at least make it a shootout

6pm – Let’s score a TD

630pm – Keep them under 40

7pm – Keep them under 50

So I pretty much went 0 for the night. Ugh.

I really thought the Eagles would win or lose a close game. I didn’t anticipate a blowout at all. The Packers played their best game of the year and the Eagles simply had no answer. The Packers destroyed the Bears last week even worse, but it sure looked like Chicago gave up in that game. The Eagles played hard for 60 minutes. No matter what they tried, the Packers had an answer.

I’m not sure whether to be encouraged or bothered by the total team collapse. Think back to the Chargers game from last year. The Eagles lost 33-30. If the defense had just made one or two plays, the team would have won. Remember the first Dallas game. The Eagles lost that 17-3. The defense played well, but the offense was dreadful. With even a decent showing by them, the team could have won. Yesterday was a team failure.

Green Bay won every quarter. The Eagles “only” lost the 3rd quarter 9-7. That’s the bright spot. Ugh. The Packers had a TD of at least 27 yards in every quarter. Ugh.

Let’s talk about some of the mistakes.

* Mark Sanchez – Did not play well. He threw 2 INTs and was involved in 2 fumbles. Beyond those, he missed a wide open Riley Cooper for a long TD and Darren Sproles open in the flat for what might have turned into a TD. The pick that went to Julius Peppers and was returned for a TD was the low point for me. Sanchez is a veteran. He has to know better on that play. That was all on him. A lot of people are milking the bad snap play as some sort of new Butt Fumble moment. “This just proves he sucks!!!” No, it doesn’t. Let’s see him play for 6 weeks. Let’s judge a body of work, not his best or worst moments. Peyton Manning led the Broncos to 7 points yesterday. QBs can have bad moments and bad games.

* The OL – They had done a masterful job in pass pro for most of the year, but yesterday wasn’t pretty. Matt Tobin got beat early and that led to a sack that ended a promising drive. Jason Peters slipped and that freed up his man to blow up a play. Evan Mathis was called for holding on a run play (looked questionable to me). And so on.

* Jeremy Maclin – slipped on a comeback route and the pass was picked off.

* Josh Huff – dropped another pass. Failed to tackle PR Micah Hyde, who was right in front of him. Huff just whiffed and that turned into a 75-yd TD.

* Brad Smith – dropped a pass in the Red Zone. Might have set up a TD.

* Trent Cole – jumped offside on 3rd/23 which led to 3rd/18, which they converted. Ugh. Cole had a chance for a sack, but couldn’t get Rodgers down.

* Vinny Curry – failed to tackle Lacy after chasing him down yesterday on pass play. That was 7 points.

* Front seven in general – failed to win individual battles and get pressure on Rodgers. Forget sacks, they couldn’t get in his face or move him off the spot yesterday.

* Mychal Kendricks – missed tackle of someone over the middle.

* Bradley Fletcher – Got beaten repeatedly. Fell down while trying to cover Cobb on crossing route and he was wide open for easy catch and run. I think that was on a 3rd down. Cobb caught pass in front of him on 3rd down and Fletcher wasn’t able to make the tackle and force the punt. Drive kept going.

* Cary Williams – Had Cobb catch pass in front of him. Sat on his heels and Cobb moved upfield to get the 1st down. Infuriating to see that. Why wait? Go attack the ball.

* Nate Allen – got run over by Eddie Lacy on long TD play.

* STs – While Huff whiffed on what should have been a tackle, the other 10 guys on the field didn’t exactly help.

The sad thing about all of this is that I’m going off memory here. I know I’ve left some stuff out. That’s what an epic disaster Sunday was.

The funny thing about the beatdown is that it happened so quickly that it numbed me. I didn’t have time to get angry, the way I normally do when the Eagles lose, especially in a blowout. I sat here speechless, trying to figure out what was going on. I was furious when the Eagles lost to the Cardinals. That had me in a genuinely bad mood for a day or two. I’m not in a bad mood at all today. I will let go of this game very quickly.

Next week’s opponent is the Titans. They’re on Monday night football so be sure to watch so we can scout them for Sunday. Do anything you can to wipe away yesterday’s disaster from your memory.