Chip Kelly: ‘The Drops Obviously Hurt Big Time’

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Jordan Matthews, multiple times. Josh Huff, in the end zone.

Darren Sproles, Zach Ertz and Miles Austin, too.

The Eagles’ pass catchers had a rough evening catching the ball in the Birds’ 27-16 loss to the Panthers on Sunday night, sinking Sam Bradford‘s passer rating along with the Eagles’ chances of knocking off undefeated Carolina.

Chip Kelly took notice — it was hard not to — and was unflinching in his evaluation of his receivers after the game.

“I don’t have an answer for [the drops], but we did have too many for us to be successful,” Kelly said  “I thought [Bradford] threw the ball well, threw with authority tonight, but the drops obviously hurt big time. We’ve got to get an answer for that.”

Kelly was adamant in his appraisal of Bradford’s performance against the Panthers. Bradford finished the night 26-of-46 for 205 yards and interception, which came on Matthews’ first drop of the night.

“I thought Sam did a nice job,” Kelly said. “I thought he threw the ball well, I thought he put the ball on people. We’ve just got to catch it and help him out.”

Kelly said he didn’t think he could single out one player as a main culprit with the drops, saying they were “shared across the board.”

As for what he can do, in terms of coaching the players up, to avoid drops in the future?

He didn’t turn to the JUGS machines at practice, but to something simpler.

“It’s fundamentals,” Kelly said plainly. “Making sure we secure the catch before we’re trying to run. There’s obviously a lot of things to it, but it’s something you have to work on. It’s no different than missing a block.”

Here are some more highlights from Kelly’s press conference.

— On why Ryan Mathews carried the ball just six times despite being more productive than DeMarco Murray.

Duce [Staley] is running the rotation, so you can talk to him,” Kelly said. “Some of it, we were calling pass plays, and [Mathews] was in there for a few passes.

“We had [Mathews] in there, and he was playing there in the third and fourth quarters. They were just pass plays called when he was in there.”

— Asked whether he views this loss as a missed opportunity, Kelly talked about the Eagles’ penalty problem.

“We do. And not to make a statement, but just to win a football game,” Kelly said. “The self-inflicted wounds — the drops and the penalties.

“We had two procedural penalties. We had a drive going, and then we get a hold; we had them pinned down inside after a real good punt, pinned down inside the 20, but then we got an unnecessary penalty on the punt. You can’t do that against a good football team like Carolina and expect to beat them.

“I look at the drops and penalties now that we’ve got to clean up.”

— On his decision to throw a screen pass to Josh Huff on a third down and nine.

“We missed a block at the point of attack; we knew they were going to be in man coverage,” Kelly explained. “If we get the first guy blocked, then we’re bringing a couple of guys to block the guys that are covering Josh.”

— On the play of the offensive line after Jason Peters went down with a back injury.

“I thought they were okay. Obviously, at the end, we gave up critical, when we were throwing it, that’s when two of those sacks came,” Kelly said. “I thought they battled. But I think some of the things that hurt us in the O-line is just procedural penalties. We’ve got to get those taken care of.

“One of the times, a guard missed on a tap. Lane [Johnson]’s going off of the tap, but the guard missed. Lane saw him move, thinks the ball’s going to be snapped, but we didn’t hit the center, so the center doesn’t snap the ball.”

— On the defensive line’s inability to stop Carolina’s run game all night.

“We didn’t do a good job against their run game,” Kelly said. “I thought that was one of the strengths of this defense, but we didn’t do a good job in holding up against their run game.

“We knew, coming into the game, they led the National Football League in rushing attempts per game. I think they had 33 tonight. A couple — the slide draw to Jonathan [Stewart] early hurt us, and the reverse hurt us. Those are two big ones that I think add to the statistics, but we’ve got to have contain on those plays, and we’ve got to be in the right gaps and the right fit.”