Eagles Wake-Up Call: Three Leftovers From Chip
Here are three leftovers from Chip Kelly’s session with reporters on Monday.
1. Kelly has been peppered with a lot of questions about the Eagles’ lack of a downfield passing attack.
“I think people are playing us a lot deeper than they did last year,” he said Monday. “That’s very evident. I don’t think anybody really lets us get behind them anymore. People are playing coverage from the top down, as opposed to last year; we saw a lot more press-man last year.
“We are not going to force things in terms of trying to throw the ball deep over the top if they are not going to allow you to run over the top.”
Earlier in the season, the downfield throws were available. What’s happened since then?
“Some of the things that Jeremy Maclin has done – and he’s had an outstanding year for us, I don’t know his numbers [exactly], high 70s and whatever… he was running post right by people and we’re not seeing that anymore. If you watch the tape, the safeties are a lot deeper and people are playing a little bit deeper on us now.”
On the season, the Eagles have 55 pass plays of 20+ yards, which ranks third in the NFL. They are on pace for 63. Last year, the number was 80, tops in the league.
2. The obvious follow-up is: How much of that has had to do with Mark Sanchez? And the answer is: a lot.
Per Pro Football Focus, 12.5 percent of Sanchez’s attempts have gone 20+ yards downfield; that ranks 17th in the NFL. For Nick Foles, the percentage was 18.9, second-highest. And then there is the accuracy percentage. Sanchez has been on-target with just 32.1 percent of his downfield throws (32nd). Foles actually wasn’t much better (35.6 percent; 27th).
But clearly, Foles liked to chuck it downfield more than Sanchez. Kelly, however, has no incentive to acknowledge that fact publicly.
“The first ball that Mark ever threw here, he came in the game and dropped a post right over the top in stride to him, and then all of a sudden people started backing up a little bit,” he said. “If anybody questions Mark’s arm strength, go to the preseason game against the Bears when he threw it 70 yards into the end zone at the end of the first half.”
On Sunday, Sanchez attempted just two passes of 20+ yards, and both were incomplete.
3. The question of preparation hasn’t come up much since Kelly’s taken over. He was asked whether he believed the players understood what was at stake Sunday, given how they started the game.
“Our effort was always there,” Kelly said. “I don’t think our team came out flat. I don’t think our team didn’t play with energy. We didn’t execute. And if they didn’t have effort and they didn’t have energy, we wouldn’t have gotten back to be up 24‑21. But it’s about sustaining, and it’s about eliminating the mistakes and not putting yourselves in harm’s way.
“So we are up 24‑21 and then they go on a long drive to score. We have to go out and respond offensively, and then we turn the football over. So it’s more self-inflicted things, but I don’t think it was anything about our guys not being ready and not understanding what the stakes and the game were all about.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
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Foles will not be ready to go this week, writes McManus.
Eagles-Cowboys, the Day After: On the decision to single up Dez Bryant with Bradley Fletcher, five thoughts on the Eagles, the number that matters, snap counts and more.
Trent Cole reportedly has a fractured hand and could be out for the season.
There are five ways the Eagles can still make the postseason. Our primer goes over all the playoff scenarios.
T-Mac on the struggles of Sanchez.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
It sounds like Foles might not even make a return in Week 17:
Said on @AmericasPregame just now, Eagles source says Nick Foles unlikely to play Week 17 as well. Playoffs TBD … if they get there.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) December 15, 2014
Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com writes that Malcolm Jenkins had only positive things to say about Bryant after the game:
Bryant might just take Jenkins up on that offer considering the damage he just did at the safety’s home away from home. He torched cornerback Bradley Fletcher for three touchdowns and 114 yards on six catches (see story), becoming just the 10th wide receiver since 1960 to have three receiving touchdowns against the Eagles in one game, just the fourth to do it in Philadelphia.
“He’s a great player and made some great plays,” Jenkins said. “That’s why he’s one of the best receivers in the league and he won today.”
Jenkins spoke much more effusively about Bryant than he did to Bryant during pregame warmups, when the two needed to be separated three different times before finally going their separate ways.
We’ll talk to Billy Davis, Pat Shurmur and the players.