Kelly: ‘We Couldn’t Get Anything Started’

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

“If we can’t run the football, we’re not going to win many football games.”

This was Chip Kelly’s primary evaluation of the Eagles’ offense after losing 20-10 to the Cowboys to fall to 0-2.

Through two games this season, Kelly and the Eagles have run for 70 yards on 33 rushes, a paltry 2.12 yards per carry. Offseason acquisition DeMarco Murray finished with two yards on 13 carries.

The Eagles’ 2015 offense was designed to be a run-first unit, built around a rotating cast of running backs that were interchangeable.

But Atlanta and Dallas took the run game out of an Eagles offense that has looked more and more vulnerable with each three-and-out, and Kelly acknowledged after the loss that the struggles stem from poor offensive line play.

“We couldn’t get anything started,” Kelly said. “I don’t think the running backs even had time to assess if there was a hole. Too much penetration up front, too many guys in the backfield.”

Kelly said the Cowboys didn’t run anything intricate on defense that should have given his offensive line trouble.

It was just like Week 1, when Allen Barbre said the Eagles knew what was coming.

They just didn’t execute, at all.

“[Dallas] did the same thing they normally do,” Kelly said. “We just didn’t block them. It wasn’t a very difficult scheme; they ran four down-linemen, three linebackers. They didn’t have extra guys in the box. We just couldn’t block their defensive line today.”

Kelly was short on imminent answers and solutions after the game.

Asked whether he thought he might’ve shipped off too many playmakers during the offseason, Kelly didn’t think so.

Asked what he thought the problem with his offensive line could be, Kelly said he didn’t have the exact answer right now.

But asked how he’s dealt with these kinds of struggles in the past, he posed an interesting parallel.

“We were here two years ago, to be honest with you,” Kelly said. “We lost, 17-3, to the Cowboys, and then we lost 15-7 to the Giants. And then we went 7-1 down the stretch.

“I just think we kind of get back to basics. It’s still a fundamental football game. We’ll evaluate everything, but we evaluated everything then, and fortunately for us we straightened things out. Again — if we can’t run the football, we’re not going to win many football games.”

Those two losses in 2013 constituted his second-worst two-game stretch with the Eagles in terms of rushing yards, as the Eagles picked up 132 yards combined in those two outings; for the rest of the season, they averaged 169 rushing yards per game.

Perhaps history repeats. Then again, if the offensive line can’t figure out how to block simple defensive fronts, Kelly’s offense will have a very difficult time reaching those gaudy numbers like they did in 2013.

Here are a few other highlights from Kelly’s press conference.

On the status of linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso, both of whom left the game with injuries and didn’t return.

“Kiko was out for the game, and Mychal Kendricks was out for the game,” Kelly said. “I haven’t gotten any updates, and probably won’t have anything on that until tomorrow.”

Kelly was effusive in his praise of the Eagles’ defensive unit, which played more than 40 minutes Sunday.

“I thought our defense played outstanding today,” he said. “I don’t think our offense did anything, especially in the run game, where we could compliment what our defense was doing. I thought our defense played really well today, and our offense did not play at all.”

When asked about Sam Bradford’s first interception, to Dallas linebacker Sean Lee in the back of the end zone, Kelly said he needs a little more time to properly evaluate his starting quarterback, but he felt the lack of offensive rhythm may have played a role.

“I’m sure he probably wants that one back,” Kelly said. “I don’t think he had a lot of time on some of those. I think there was a combination of a lot of things; we had some drops on some key third downs that could’ve extended drives and kind of gotten us into rhythm. Until you take a look at the whole tape, I can’t give you a full evaluation.”

On rookie linebacker Jordan Hicks, who entered the game on defense after the injuries to Kendricks and Alonso.

“I thought [Hicks] did a nice job, especially in that situation when two guys go down,” Kelly said. “He’s primarily a special teams player for us, but when you only dress four guys on gameday, you’ve got to be ready to go, and obviously losing Kiko and then Mychal … besides that one pass play to [Joseph] Randle, I thought he did a nice job.