Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘Backer Breakdowns

Mychal Kendricks and Theo Riddick. (USA Today Sports)

Mychal Kendricks and Theo Riddick. (USA Today Sports)

After the Eagles allowed 45 points and five passing touchdowns in two consecutive weeks, Billy Davis stood stunned and speechless on Thanksgiving.

“That was a disaster,” Davis said. “There’s no excuses. There’s no explanations for that.”

However, because the Eagles played three days earlier than they normally do, Chip Kelly watched the game tape a couple of more times than he typically does. In that additional film review, he singled out one reason Detroit dominated en route to a 45-14 win.

“The biggest thing for us, I think, [was] some of the matchups with the running backs that have usually been pluses for us got exploited a little bit in the pass coverage stuff,” Kelly said. “We had the long screen pass and we had those two option routes by the running back that I think affected us.”

According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles ranked second in the NFL in covering running backs before Thanksgiving. In the first 11 weeks of the season, opposing backs averaged just 27 receiving yards per game — 18 less than the league average.

However, Theo Riddick and Joique Bell were second and third for Detroit in receiving yards on Thursday. Lions running backs totaled more than 125 yards and one touchdown through the air on just 10 targets.

Riddick, who caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown, recorded at least half of those yards and the score on an option route. Fran Duffy tweeted a good video that broke down the running back’s trip to the end zone.

Mychal Kendricks, who was in coverage on that play, allowed four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus. He also missed three tackles.

“I wouldn’t say ‘killing us’ is the word, but I think we’ve had some breakdowns [at inside linebacker] that we normally don’t have at that position,” Kelly said. “Again, those are some of the plays — we had three big pass plays from the running backs in that game that I think hurt us in that game.”

Because the Eagles had such difficulty covering Detroit’s option routes out of the backfield, Davis adjusted by bracketing the running backs. However, that created favorable one-on-one matchups elsewhere for the Lions.

Duffy tweeted another good video of the Eagles bracketing Riddick, but Matthew Stafford scrambled for eight yards instead of throwing the ball.

“I think what a lot of teams do, they double him, and for good reason,” Jim Caldwell said after Detroit’s Thanksgiving win. “From time to time, they’ll single up on him, but he can create some problems, and when you have to double him, that leaves someone else, [Eric] Ebron or one of our tight ends or maybe an inside slot receiver with single coverage like Golden [Tate], or Calvin [Johnson] one-on-one on the outside.

“They have to decide what they’re going to do with the number of players that they have to play and still rush the passer. So when he’s really effective, I think he’s another guy that just kind of forces a team to look at us a little differently.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Ian Rapoport: “Don’t rule out” Chip Kelly being traded to the Titans.

“I’ve been totally committed since the day I got here.” Chip said he didn’t meet with USC.

T-Mac’s thoughts on Chip, the USC reports and the head coach’s future with the Birds.

Jeremy Maclin exploded for the Chiefs, Nick Foles struggled again and more on The Departed.

T-Mac examined Sam Bradford‘s future and the impact these next five games will have.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jimmy Kempski says Chip should be gone after this season.

When Jeffrey Lurie hired Chip Kelly in 2013, the Eagles were getting an innovative, energetic coach who had the promise to win big in unconventional ways. It’s a move that was applauded by many, and rightfully so, in my opinion. There are 32 NFL teams, and if they were all equal, individually they’d each have a 3.1 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl each year. The Eagles shot for the moon in a league where it is extraordinarily difficult to win a championship, as Eagles fans have learned.

However, after just three years with Kelly at the helm, it’s already time to analyze whether or not the future of the franchise dictates that Kelly must go. In my view, it’s time.

Chip needs to pay attention to his losing battle in time of possession, writes Marcus Hayes.

For the second year in a row, Kelly’s “Machine Gun” offense has eroded his defense. Even when the offense works, it works too fast. The defense never gets enough rest.

For the second year in a row, the Eagles rank last in time of possession.

After 11 games the defense has been on the field for about 83 more minutes than the offense. There are 60 minutes in a game. Considering the units ideally should at least split the time – 30 minutes apiece – this means the Eagles’ defense has so far played nearly an extra three games more than the offense. That will grow by season’s end. Just like last season.

COMING UP

Billy Davis and Pat Shurmur will address the media at 11:45 a.m. and noon.