Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelly’s Only Option Is Straight Ahead
Chip Kelly counted eight no doubt-about-it drops on Sunday night, plus two that you could argue either way. There have been 25 drops by Eagles receivers in all through seven games, per Pro Football Focus, for a rate of 9.1 percent. That’s not only dead last in the NFL this season, but the worst drop rate since 2007.
Asked if the talent level at receiver is satisfactory, Kelly replied: “Yeah.”
Sam Bradford, though a victim of said drops at times, has had an underwhelming start to his time in Philadelphia. He ranks 30th in yards per attempt (6.45), is tied for most interceptions thrown (10) and is 29th in quarterback rating (76.4).
Asked why he is committed to Bradford, Kelly said “because I think our quarterback is playing well…I’ve been pleased with Sam. Very pleased with Sam.”
And when the subject of personnel changes was broached, the head coach suggested he has the right guys in place.
“No. I told our guys after the game, ‘I think we’re a good football team, we just need to clean things up,'” he said, citing the various penalties that hurt them against the Panthers. “We’re close, but when you’re playing a really good football team like Carolina, close isn’t good enough. You’ve gotta stop getting in your own way and stop stopping yourself.”
Barring a change of heart during the bye week, then, it sounds like Kelly is going to stay the course. Perhaps part of that is because Kelly really believes that his team is close and that his quarterback is playing well and that his receivers are good enough, but the reality is this: Kelly really has nowhere else to turn.
Shuffling receivers is unlikely to bear much fruit. We’ve already seen the snaps of Nelson Agholor, Riley Cooper, Josh Huff and Miles Austin move up and down and around the one constant, Jordan Matthews. Assemble them however you like, it won’t deepen the talent pool.
Same for offensive line. With very little investment in the position over the past couple years, there’s essentially no water in the well to draw from.
Upping Ryan Mathews‘ play time certainly seems like a logical move, but drastically altering the snap distribution is not a realistic option. The Eagles are on the hook for DeMarco Murray‘s entire $7 million salary next season and an additional $2 million in 2017. He’s going to be around for a while more than likely, so it’s important to keep him invested.
The big move would be to swap Bradford for Mark Sanchez, though Kelly shot that idea straight down Monday. And that’s understandable. While Sanchez could prove a short-term tonic, Kelly has gambled too much on the idea of Bradford succeeding to waver in his commitment after seven games.
And so he’ll likely return from the bye with a similar lineup, standing firm behind the belief that the ills that have hampered his offense are curable and that the turnaround is just up ahead. Maybe he’ll be right and maybe he won’t; maybe he truly believes it and maybe he doesn’t. But he’ll stay true to that idea and act accordingly for the remainder of the season because, really, what other choice does he have?
WHAT YOU MISSED
“Ryan was hurt yesterday.” Chip Kelly justifies snap counts, and backs his quarterback, on Monday.
Day-After notes, including a look at failed run defense, and strong words from Malcolm Jenkins.
“Catch the f-ing football!” Josh re-visits the Eagles’ blown opportunities from their loss to Carolina.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Eagles head into the bye week at 3-4, and CSN Philadelphia’s John Gonzalez writes that it might be time to accept that the Eagles are simply average.
Here’s another scary thought: The Eagles aren’t very good. Unless you ask [Chip] Kelly, who said he thinks the Eagles are “a good football team” and just “need to get things cleaned up.” They’re almost halfway through the season. At what point do you step back and admit that the mess is too big to wipe away?
More likely, they’re what they’ve appeared to be all season, something much closer to average than awesome. So many of us keep waiting for the Eagles we were promised to show up and dominate. But you can only wait so long before you realize the promise probably isn’t possible.
As far as the Daily News’s Marcus Hayes is concerned, Bradford is plain out of excuses for his poor play.
[Bradford] threw behind one receiver; held on way too long on a sack and one-hopped a third-down throw in the fourth quarter, when his $13 million salary is supposed to be earned.
Heading into the bye week seven games into his first season as an Eagle, Bradford, who replaced Nick Foles, has thrown high and low and late and, 10 times, into the arms of the opposition. Four times, the opposition was in its own end zone.
Only one other passer has as many interceptions: Peyton Manning.
The big difference: Manning is 6-0.
A closer look at the key plays from Sunday night.