What They’re Saying About the Eagles

"That has to be the most disconcerting part of Week 1 if you’re an Eagles fan."

Courtesy of USA Today.

(Courtesy of USA Today)

Here’s what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland offers a detailed analysis of the Eagles’ performance.

They threw the ball 52 times against just 16 running plays, and while some of that was due to the game situation of being down double-digits at the start of the second half, the truth is that Philadelphia’s running game simply wasn’t effective against 2014’s third-worst run defense. And when the rushing attack did get going, it was driven by Sproles, who had success running Philadelphia’s sweep and finished with five carries for 50 yards. Murray and Mathews combined for just 13 rushing yards on 11 carries. Mathews had an unfortunate drop in the first half before chipping in as a receiver after the break, but Murray never got going; his fantasy owners surely enjoyed two touchdowns, but he touched the ball 12 times and managed only 20 yards.

Kelly abandoned the run, as Grantland’s Chris Brown noted on Twitter, because his offensive linemen were getting their asses handed to them. That has to be the most disconcerting part of Week 1 if you’re an Eagles fan. Beasley gave Jason Peters fits during a twitchy first half before Peters restored the order of the universe after halftime. The Eagles offense committed six holding penalties, admittedly in a game in which the referees needed to chill.

Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus pulls out some interesting numbers relating to Sam Bradford.

In 2013, Bradford was an exceptionally accurate quarterback when he was not under pressure. He had a completion percentage of 71.2 percent on those throws. Last night the Eagles’ new-look offensive line did a fine job of keeping Bradford clean, and on plays where he wasn’t under pressure his completion percentage was up to 75.6.

When he was under pressure, however, the problems started. In 2013 he completed just 38.8 percent of his passes under pressure. That was up to 45.5 percent against the Falcons, but he failed to have a positively graded throw under pressure. All of his completions had a depth of pass of 5 yards or less, and his terrible interception to end the first half also came while under pressure.

Bradford also is a quarterback who rarely throws a deep pass. Only 8.4 percent of his passes in 2013 went at least 20 yards in the air, which was fourth-lowest rate among quarterbacks that year. On Monday Night Football, his deepest pass traveled 23 yards in the air, with every other pass going for 18 yards or less.

The biggest concern for Bradford this season is his health, and the Eagles’ game plan was designed to make sure he avoids getting hit. He got the ball out of his hands within 2.5 seconds on 41 of his 54 passes, which led to an average time to throw of 2.27 seconds. That was the fourth-lowest among quarterbacks in Week 1, a primary reason behind his not getting sacked yet.

Brian Billick writes that Chip Kelly is one of the coaches facing heat after a Week One loss.

I’ve said it before: Chip Kelly didn’t enter the NFL saying he was going to reinvent the way professional football is played. We, the media, did that for him. But after this past offseason, when he assumed all general manager responsibilities, he set himself up for the maximum amount of scrutiny. Following the sweeping personnel changes that Kelly was responsible for, every Eagles loss will be looked at through a microscope — with the head coach squarely in the crosshairs.

Kelly shipped out LeSean McCoy … and then got just 63 total rushing yards (including nine from the reigning NFL rushing king) against a defense that finished dead last in total D last season. He allowed his best receiver, Jeremy Maclin, to walk in free agency — opting instead for a committee approach led byJordan Matthews, who couldn’t corral a perfectly thrown ball, allowing theFalcons to log the game-clinching interception. He bet the farm on Sam Bradford, who, despite his 336 yards passing, was wildly inaccurate in the first half, threw two interceptions and then finished the night in the X-ray room.

Not an ideal start to the season, that’s for sure.

MMQB kicked off its film-study series by watching Eagles-Cowboys game tape with Jason Witten.

Early in the third quarter, we see that the Eagles made a shrewd halftime adjustment against the Cowboys’ zone running game. They shifted their defensive line so that end Cedric Thornton was aligned over the tight end instead of the offensive tackle. This allowed Thornton to go one-on-one against Witten. Thornton has about a 50-pound advantage.

“If you remember, going back earlier, the play we saw with Tyron and I, Thornton was over Tyron, so we were doubling up to the linebacker. Now we’re running the same play to the other side, but now it’s two available holes; last time was three holes. [The Eagles] got smart and adjusted, as all good defenses do.

“Ideally, if you asked my coach, he would say, ‘Hey, we expect to get a stalemate in these positions.’ So right there when I got Thornton, I kind of miss with my right hand. So he’s able to get his hands inside, and of course he’s a bigger, stronger guy. But if we could have stalemated—rewind it just a little bit, to this point right here . . .” The film freezes and we see Witten’s feet being lifted off the ground. “There’s the hole.”