Zone Read: Eagles-Washington, the Day After

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

LANDOVER, Md. – Chip Kelly had been in this room before, but the circumstances were different the last time.

It was September of 2013. Kelly’s squad had just put the NFL on notice that his up-tempo attack could be effective at the professional level as the Eagles defeated Washington on Monday Night football in his debut as Andy Reid’s successor.

Kelly answered questions from a roomful of reporters about the Birds’ pace, Michael Vick’s performance and other topics. Before exiting the room to make the trip back to Philadelphia, Kelly stopped to say hello to some media members who had made the trip from Oregon.

Where his first season began was essentially the same place that his second season ended. Kelly’s squad was clinging to its playoffs aspirations Saturday afternoon at FedEx Field. The hope was that the Eagles would take care of business against an inferior opponent and perhaps get a little help in the final two weeks to sneak into the postseason.

Instead, the Eagles suffered a meltdown. Issues that have been prevalent all year long resurfaced, and the result was a 27-24 loss. Read more »

Sanchez Unable To Break Old Habits

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Chip Kelly said he didn’t spend much time studying Mark Sanchez‘s tape from New York, focusing instead on his skill set and physical attributes and relying more on the word of those who had been around him in a formal life.

“I talked to his college coaches more than I did that; I talked to his high school coaches and I knew what type of athlete he was and I knew what he could do,” he said earlier this month. “For me to study his tape from the New York Jets ‑‑ now I know other people studied his tape, but I personally didn’t study his tape because I know what he can do and I thought he could fit into our system.”

Sanchez had a sub-60 percent completion rate with the Jets. The Eagles felt that he could get closer to the level of accuracy he displayed at USC (64 percent), and sure enough, he has completed 64 percent of his throws in an Eagles uniform. There were elements of his game from New York that did carry over, though — namely, his propensity to turn the ball over.

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The Tragedy That Changed Chip Kelly

Chip Kelly with service members during the team’s Military Appreciation Day in 2013. Photograph by Matt Rourke, AP

Chip Kelly with service members during the team’s Military Appreciation Day in 2013. Photograph by Matt Rourke, AP

Schools were let out the day Army Sergeant Joshua Lengstorf returned home, and the kids, waving small American flags, joined the rest of the community along the side of the road.

His body was flown from Afghanistan into Eugene, Oregon, where a police escort waited to assist in the hour-plus drive south to Douglas County. Businesses in the neighboring towns posted signs of support in their windows. Locals lined the streets. The closer they got to the heart of Roseburg, the larger the crowd became.

“We went through some of the small towns that he lived in, and it was just packed,” says Josh’s widow, Jesse. “It was that way all the way down and even to the funeral home. I think that’s when we realized that this is a big deal.”

Some 500 people gathered to pay their respects on that day in January 2010. Among them was then–University of Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
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This Just In: Chip Kelly Is A Good Coach…

Photo Credit: Benny Sieu - USA Today

Photo Credit: Benny Sieu – USA Today

Read Mike Missanelli on why Chip Kelly’s gaudy numbers might not get the Eagles to the postseason.

Since Chip Kelly is heralded by the Philadelphia media and fan base as a genius who revolutionized football, I decided to take a look at Kelly compared to his peers.

The best way, maybe the only way, to rate NFL head coaches is by wins and losses. With that criterion, many in Philadelphia will be surprised to find out that Kelly is not even the best of his class. That distinction goes to another guy with Philadelphia ties; former Temple head coach Bruce Arians, who took over the Arizona Cardinals job the same year Kelly took over the Eagles job. In fact, Kelly has the exact same record as the man he followed as Eagles head coach, the much-derided Andy Reid.

Here is the win loss record of the seven men who became the new coach of their respective teams in 2013:

Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals 21-9
Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles 19-11
Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs 19-11
Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers 17-13
Doug Marrone, Buffalo Bills 14-16
Mark Trestman, Chicago Bears 13-17
Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars 7-24

Of those seven teams, only Arians’ team is assured a playoff spot with two games yet to play.
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…But the Eagles Might Still Miss the Playoffs

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Read Larry Mendte break down the numbers showing Chip Kelly is one of the bestter second-year coaches in the NFL.

The Eagles might likely miss the NFL playoffs this year, and the legend of the fall might be the very same guy who built the team into a playoff contender.

Such is life in the NFL, where one can be riding high one week, then shot down with one loss on a chilly Sunday night. And that loss, against the hated Dallas Cowboys, at home no less, has had such a chilling effect on the fan base; it may as well be the Ice Age around here.

Miracles do happen, however. If the Eagles win their last two games, they would be 11-5 – a better regular season record than last year, by the way. And they could very well get lucky with a few well timed losses amongst the other contenders. But until that happens, fans are left in a stew of blame. How could a team that, for an entire season, carried such hopes for greatness, fall so flat at the end? And who is most responsible?
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Wake-Up Call: Eagles Can’t Sleep on RGIII

Courtesy of USA Today

Courtesy of USA Today

You won’t find many pundits backing Washington this week. The Eagles have too much to play for and the Redskins are too much of a mess to not lean towards Philly in this one. That sentiment is reflected in the line, with Vegas making the Eagles 7 ½ -point road favorites.

If there is one variable that has the best chance of knocking this game off course, it’s quarterback play. That is, if Robert Griffin III shines and Mark Sanchez falters, the Eagles could leave FedEx Field with their playoff hopes all but crushed. Read more »

Lost Season For Boykin?

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

The calls for more Brandon Boykin have quieted down as the year has gone along, partly because people have come to realize those efforts are fruitless, and partly because Boykin hasn’t been flashing with the same brightness compared to last season.

That six-interception campaign seems a world away now, doesn’t it? The talk this offseason was all about how to get the young corner’s snaps up from 50 percent. Instead, his playing time has gone south (he’s played 42 percent of the defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus) and it feels like Boykin has been pushed further to the fringe by Billy Davis and Chip Kelly despite the coaches’ claims that he is viewed as a starter. Read more »

Fipp Warned Of Short Kickoff Vs. Cowboys

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Linc was full of energy last Sunday night in the minutes leading up to the Eagles’ matchup with the Cowboys.

The fans coordinated an impressively loud “Dallas Sucks!” chant during the coin toss. They booed the Cowboys when the football got knocked off the tee by the wind. They were ready to celebrate a victory that would put their team in control of the NFC East.

The Eagles won the toss and decided to receive. But that’s when things went wrong.

As you know by now, the kickoff was short. Neither Brad Smith nor Josh Huff fielded it. The Cowboys recovered deep in Eagles territory and got in the end zone to take a 7-0 lead.

But the show Turning Point on NBC Sports revealed an interesting bit of information about the play: special teams coach Dave Fipp warned the players in the pre-game huddle that the kick would be short: Read more »

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