Eagles Wake-Up Call: Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
LANDOVER, MD — The Eagles’ offense has taken the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine to almost epic proportions. In each of their first four games, they struggled to earn a first down in one half, while scoring most, if not all, of their points in the other.
“I wish I knew how to explain it because then we would get it fixed,” Sam Bradford said. “It’s almost like we are two completely different offenses, and once we get it going we are pretty good. But for some reason, there are times we just struggle to get it going.”
Philadelphia’s 23-20 loss yesterday to Washington was no different. After recording just four first downs in the first half, the Eagles scored three touchdowns in the second half. Bradford finally completed his first pass of more than 20 yards this season, and did so three more times for good measure.
He threw three touchdown tosses — including a 62-yarder to Riley Cooper and a 39-yarder to Miles Austin — and finished with a 122.6 passer rating.
“You guys act like we don’t want to throw the ball downfield,” Bradford said, “but I think we saw something we could take advantage [of] this week and we called a couple of plays trying to get those posts.”
Bradford’s leading receiver, Cooper, attributed the Eagles’ big-play balls to Jordan Matthews, who caught a 30-yarder of his own and finished with three catches for 50 yards.
“Jordan is such a great slot receiver, he requires a lot of attention,” Cooper said. “When he’s running across the field, there’s multiple eyes on Jordan. When that happens, it lets you get behind on those deep post routes and those deep balls. The safety was kind of shifting over, playing those line routes Jordan runs so well.”
However, Bradford couldn’t take advantage of that for much of the first half. He was sacked five times in the game — including three in the first two quarters — and often had inadequate pass protection.
The offensive line struggled to begin the game, and didn’t improve much as Matt Tobin shifted to left tackle to replace an injured Jason Peters (quad). Dennis Kelly then took Tobin’s spot at right guard.
“In the second half we protected Sam better and gave him an opportunity to feel the football and you saw what he could do,” Chip Kelly said. “We didn’t do a good job in the first half of protecting Sam so we couldn’t convert third downs.”
The Eagles also struggled on third down because they needed an average of nearly eight yards. Outside of DeMarco Murray’s 30-yard run, Philadelphia’s ground game was ineffective on first and second down, leaving Bradford in a tough spot afterward.
He completed just 50 percent of his passes on third down and averaged 4.6 yards per attempt, limiting the Eagles to a 4-for-12 conversion rate.
“That’s the thing about this offense,” Tobin said. “You got to have production on first and second down, so third downs are manageable and they don’t know what’s coming.”
According to Dennis Kelly, the offensive line struggled initially because of Washington’s stunts, particularly when the defensive end crashed down and the tackle looped around. They adjusted, he said, by spacing themselves out more.
Although Jason Kelce believes the offensive line has improved some this season, he added that it’s not happening at a fast enough pace.
“Right now, we don’t run the ball when we need to; we don’t pass block when we need to. It’s a disgrace,” Kelce said. “There’s just way too many mistakes, way too many errors – especially at this point in the season and we’re costing our team wins right now. We’ve got to get this fixed.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“We’ve got to make plays. We can’t delay the season.” Chip Kelly isn’t getting the execution he needs from his team.
After carrying the ball only eight times, DeMarco Murray said he he’s not getting enough touches.
Bennie Logan played well, and three other key takeaways from yesterday’s defeat.
Instant observations: T-Mac on what he saw at FedEx Field after the Eagles’ third loss of the season.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Considering how much they were on the field, it’s no surprise the Eagles’ defense wilted on the last drive, Reuben Frank writes.
Here’s a fact: Teams playing at least 41 minutes on defense are 5-109 in non-overtime games since 1983, which is as far back as Pro Football Reference has time-of-possession stats.
But because of Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense — combined with the Eagles’ offense’s inconsistency — this keeps happening.
Bob Ford asks if the Eagles can rebound from the worst loss of Chip Kelly’s career.
Chip Kelly said he knew the 2014 edition wasn’t good enough to seriously contend, so he threw the roster into the air and started over. Is the current team any better? Not where it matters.
“This is not where we expected to be after Week 4,” said new quarterback Sam Bradford. “When you’re 1-3, those expectations are gone.”
Chip Kelly will speak to the media at 1 p.m.