Eagles Wake-Up Call: On Turnovers And Discipline
Chip Kelly knew very well that his team was living on the edge.
You can go back to his postgame press conference following the 27-0 shutout of the Giants back on October 12. The win lifted the Eagles to 5-1 but they entered the bye with a minus-5 turnover ratio. Kelly acknowledged then that the formula was not sustainable.
“We’ve got to do a better job because you can’t do it at that rate and end up on the right side of the ledger,” he said.
Despite that acknowledgement the turnovers continued, but so did the winning for a time thanks in large part to big point production out of their special teams and defense. Of all the teams that were in the basement when it came to give/take, Kelly’s was the only one ranked as a contender. They were the outlier. Until they weren’t.
The Eagles dropped three straight in December and are now out of playoff contention, which gives them something in common with most of the other teams that have lost the turnover battle. The Eagles have a minus-8 giveaway/takeaway ratio, tied for sixth worst in the NFL. The rest of the bottom 10? The Raiders, Jets, Bucs, Washington, Titans, Jaguars, Bears, Saints, Giants and Chiefs (Kansas City is tied with New York). Those teams have a combined record of 42-108 (.388 win percentage). Only the Chiefs (8-7) currently have a winning record.
The Eagles lead the league with 35 giveaways in all.
“The biggest thing for us as a team is we were really counting our days anyway,” said Malcolm Jenkins. “We were negative-nine in the turnover ratio (through 12 games), so to even get nine wins with that was surprising.
“So we were really on borrowed time, and that’s starting to show up in these games where we’re playing really good teams and I think we finished even today, but we did a bunch of other things too that you can’t do to win.”
Like commit penalties. The Eagles were charged with a whopping 13 penalties for 102 yards compared to three penalties for 15 yards for Washington. They average seven infractions per game, which is in the bottom-third of the league.
Chip Kelly was asked afterwards if his team lacks discipline.
“They aren’t lacking discipline,” said Kelly. “We just aren’t doing the right thing during the football game.”
You can point to Mark Sanchez or the depleted offensive line earlier in the year as reasons why the numbers are where they are, though the turnovers and penalties have come regardless of the quarterback or the state of the offensive front.
“Nobody wants to say that [we’re] an undisciplined team,” said Jenkins, “but you’ve gotta go out and prove it.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
With Dallas’ win over the Colts, the Eagles were officially eliminated from the playoffs.
Sheil looks at Saturday’s collapse from all angles in his always excellent Zone Read.
Sanchez just couldn’t kick the turnover habit that he developed in New York.
“They’re very naive and they play how they play.” DeSean Jackson gloats after Eagles fall in Washington.
Kapadia offers his observation’s from the Eagles’ 27-24 loss.
Kelly feels a strong link to the military, in part thanks to a tale of valor that happened in Afghanistan five years ago.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Bob Ford says the Eagles weren’t worthy of a playoff berth.
It figured to be over, but even if the Eagles hit the luckiest of trifectas in the three games that would decide their fate, it is clear now that a trip to the playoffs would have been both brief and undeserved. The Redskins game didn’t expose any new problems, but it did display them all in one neat package that can serve as a handy reference: too many turnovers, an offense limited by the ability of the quarterback, not enough discipline in avoiding penalties, and an under-talented defense that must pick the poison of where to be vulnerable every game.
Any boat with that many holes in the hull is going to sink eventually. The marvel is that it took as long for the water to reach the gunwales this season. The credit for that goes to what the Eagles do have, and it’s not nothing. It’s just not enough, either.
Reuben Frank writes about Cody Parkey, who before Saturday had been enjoying a very strong rookie season.
It stinks,” Parkey said. “I missed kicks and we lost the game.”
Coming into Week 16, Parkey was at 93.5 percent for the year, which would have been the eighth-highest single-season accuracy by a kicker in NFL history.
Parkey, who replaced Alex Henery after the preseason, had made 26 of his last 27 field goal attempts before Saturday night, with the only miss coming from 49 yard against Tennessee. His only other miss was a 38-yarder at Indianapolis. Against the Redskins, Parkey missed from 34 yards out early in the third quarter with the Eagles leading 14-10 and then he missed from 46 yards later in the quarter with the Eagles trailing 17-14. Both were wide right.
“I’m human, things happen,” Parkey said. “It’s on me. I had a great snap, great hold, great protection,. Obviously just mishit the ball a little bit.”
We’ll speak to Kelly at 1.