Earlier this week, Phil Simms called the Eagles’ offense one of the worst five units in the NFL.
On Friday, it was Merril Hoge’s turn to go in on Chip Kelly and company. Appearing on 97.5 The Fanatic with Joe DeCamara and Adam Caplan, the ESPN analyst said he’s been unimpressed with what he’s seen so far.
“I think it’s the most vanilla offense in football,” Hoge said.
“In college, the bottom line is my athlete is better than your athlete. I’m gonna win a high percentage of the time. In the National Football League, it’s about matchups. You have to do something each and every week to put your best guys in the best matchups you can create. And I will tell you this, every week when I plug in the Eagles’ offense, it’s the most vanilla. They start out with the bubble screen, they have the three wide receivers on one side, the option. But I think the thing that’s probably most disturbing is it’s starting to take its toll and you’re starting to see the effects of a college system being applied to the National Football League.”
Even after last week’s clunker, the Eagles’ offense is eighth in Football Outsiders’ rankings, second in yards per game, third in yards per play and 13th in scoring.
The Eagles lead the NFL in pass plays of 20+ yards. DeSean Jackson is on pace for 84 catches and 1,393 yards – both would be career highs.
The Eagles’ run game has stalled in two of the past three weeks, but LeSean McCoy is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and leads the league with 685 yards on the ground. Football Outsiders has the Eagles’ run game ranked No. 1, but Hoge doesn’t like what he sees there either.
“When they run the football, you cannot run on the perimeter in the National Football League and be consistent,” Hoge said. “You may get there a couple of times. But right after the Chiefs played them with a certain structured defense, they eliminated that. They gave up one big run. The Cowboys didn’t give up any runs to Philadelphia. And I know that Chip Kelly, I’ve heard he’s about numbers. We try to get more numbers than they have in the blocking scheme, have five to their four. And what’s interesting about the running game, because it’s always lateral, there’s always some delay element to it, there’s nothing that’s aggressive to the line of scrimmage.
“Adrian Peterson, that’s why he’s so dynamic is that they play to the strength of Adrian. And most running games in the NFL are downhill, they play in the middle, and you have to do some sense of that. And they have nothing. None of that. And defenses now, those linebackers just sit there and hover, and they flow and fly to the ball, it’s hard for the offensive line to get to them. When you’re delayed like a half-a-second to a second, your safety may not be accounted for in the box initially. But because you’ve delayed in the backfield so long, the safety gets there and there’s nobody to account for him. They’ve got a bunch of college coaches. Do they have time to adapt to being better at creating matchups and understanding the NFL game? Only time will tell that.”
Asked about the Eagles’ personnel, Hoge said: “You still got what you got, and you gotta try and take advantage of that the best you can. And that’s where I think his big problem is. He doesn’t do that week in and week out. They’ve got a system. They try to play to the numbers game. But the league’s not about numbers.”