Eagles-Washington, The Day After
At the same moment Fletcher Cox was guaranteeing victory Wednesday, an entirely different conversation was unfolding just a handful of stalls away.
Asked about the atmosphere surrounding the team leading up to the must-win game against Washington, an offensive starter speaking with Birds 24/7 said that he felt the energy was down compared to previous weeks and believed “something [was] off” with the team.
“I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll see on Sunday morning if I’m right or not,” he said.
That contrast, it seems, speaks to a big part of the story of the 2015 Eagles — not “53 angry men” as Jeffrey Lurie‘s manufactured slogan suggested, but a mishmash of parts that had trouble syncing up long enough to string anything meaningful together. When it clicked it was good, when it didn’t it was discord, and there was no telling which was coming from series to series or game to game.
The architect of it all was in the middle of addressing the dysfunction when the lights literally went out on him late Saturday night.
“There’s an omen,” Kelly said, standing inside the pitch black interview room at Lincoln Financial Field following Saturday’s 38-24 loss to Washington.
Not 30 seconds after the lights flicked back on, the head coach faced the first of what could be many questions about his future in Philadelphia.
“No,” he said, when asked if he’s worried about his job security. “If it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough. I’m going to continue to work as hard as I can and show up early and stay up late at night and continue to work. But I don’t think anybody in my situation would tell you that they’re worried about [getting fired]. If they’re worried about getting fired then they probably should have already been fired.”
Amazing how sharp the descent has been. It was just this past August when Lurie, having handed total control to Kelly earlier in the offseason, told reporters that his head coach “doesn’t need to prove anything” in 2015.
“He’s a builder of a roster, culture builder. He’s everything I think we all thought when we interviewed him, and more,” said Lurie.
That, of course, was when optimism about the newly-minted head of personnel and his radically-remodeled team was high as could be; when skepticism about parting with high-end talent and gambling on high-risk players was trumped by an overriding confidence in the man at the helm.
That facade was knocked down brick by brick over the last several months, the last of it falling to the ground on early Sunday morning as the team’s playoff chances were extinguished. Nothing left now but contracts and questions, and the reality that the man in charge of solving the litany of problems now facing the Eagles is the same man that had a big hand in creating them.
“One hundred percent. That’s all on my shoulders,” Kelly said. “It’s the same thing I said a year ago: it’s unacceptable. We’ve gotta find a way to do a better job. We’ve gotta put these guys in better situations to make plays, so it’s 100 percent on my shoulders.”
How much responsibility should remain there becomes the central focus as a weary fan base enters another fruitless offseason short on hope and with eyes wide open.
Malcolm Jenkins was in no mood to be diplomatic.
His unit fresh off surrendering 31 points and over 350 passing yards to Washington, the safety was asked about Chris Thompson‘s 12-yard receiving touchdown in the third quarter in which the back found plenty of space along the right side en route to the score.
Was that a communication between Jenkins and Kiko Alonso?
“No,” Jenkins responded with a frustrated laugh. “That’s Kiko’s guy.”
The struggles of a once-promising inside linebacking corps were on full display Saturday night, as Washington tight ends and backs racked up 17 catches for 208 yards and three touchdowns to carry the offense.
Jordan Reed (9 catches, 129 yards, 2 TDS) was a major part of that. The game plan heading in was supposed to have Jenkins on Reed for the majority of the game, but that did not come to fruition early.
“The play calls didn’t put me on him,” Jenkins said of the first half. “For whatever reason, that matchup, I didn’t get that until later in the game. But obviously some of the damage was already done.”
Both of Reed’s touchdowns came in the first quarter. The first, Kelly said, was against a split safety zone look “and they ran a power pass. So our middle linebacker stepped up, they ran one route to clear out the other safety and then Jordan split us down the middle so we were in zone coverage on that one.”
On the second, Reed just flat got the better of Mychal Kendricks.
“We knew the tight end was a difficult matchup. I think the running back one was the one that is disappointing,” said Kelly. “I didn’t think that would be a match up that we would not win. We knew we had our hands full with Jordan Reed. I think Reed is one of the really good tight ends in this league and he has done it to a lot of different people. We thought we would be better in the running back matchup.”
You can certainly question why the linebackers were on Reed to begin with, but when asked to step up against him and the rest of the Washington passing attack, the LBs failed to do so.
Chip Kelly is 0-4 in games played on a short week this season , 2-9 in short week games during his tenure in philly.
— Derrick Gunn (@TheRealDGunnCSN) December 27, 2015
Conversely, games in which he got some extra time this season (vs. Giants, @ Dallas, @ New England) turned out well.
When Celek split wide, @Ike58Reese said in the press box, “gotta be a toss.” Washington said same thing — Les Bowen (@LesBowen) December 27, 2015
Ike Reese (and Washington) reading a Darren Sproles toss in the second quarter that got dropped for minus-six yards.
DeSean Jackson gets the last laugh for the second straight year.
All the Eagles do is drop passes and give false hope to their fans — L.I.D. (@AllEyes0n_Dee) December 27, 2015
QUOTES OF NOTE
“I’m not talking.”
— Mychal Kendricks after the game. Following the win over Arizona, he predicted that the “Redskins got something coming to them.”
“That’s on me. Not a good call. One hundred percent on me. I made the call. Not a good call.”
— Kelly on the decision to call a pitch to DeMarco Murray that resulted in a critical fumble.
“I do not. That’s for other men to decide that. What I think about is how I’m going to get this group of men to play next week. That’s all I’ve done every day and that’s all I’ll do. I’ve been down this road where you have seasons that are disappointing and everybody is looking for the blame game. As a team, we have to make sure that we hang together and take all the accountability that we need. The city of Philadelphia, we have to give them better. I’ve got to do a better job and everybody has to look at themselves and see how they can do a better job.”
–– Billy Davis, asked if he thinks about his future in Philly.
“It’s frustrating when they happen, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t lose confidence in those guys. I’m still going to throw it to them. I trust every one of them to go and make plays because they’ve shown that they have. Unfortunately, we had a few of them tonight.”
— Sam Bradford after again being victimized by receiver drops.
“Yeah, there was a lot of confusion with what the play call was. For a lack of a better word, I just had a lapse in my decision-making and took a knee when I should have thrown the ball away to stop the clock. We were fortunate it didn’t end up hurting us.”
— Kirk Cousins on the bizarre kneel-down to end the half.
“I caught it, I started running with it, and when he was tackling me my foot was kind of bent and he landed on it and it felt like I broke my foot so I didn’t concentrate when I hit the ground, and I guess the nose of the ball hit the ground.”
— Riley Cooper, explaining the near big catch in the second half.
Nelson Agholor had two catches for 35 yards on five targets with a key drop in the end zone while playing 84 percent of the snaps…Kenjon Barner ended up playing more snaps than both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews but did not receive a carry and had one reception for minus-seven yards on three targets.
Beau Allen got the start for Bennie Logan but was on the field just a touch over half the time as Billy Davis frequently went with his subpackages…Jaylen Watkins often got the call when Davis dialed them up. He played some outside corner, kicking E.J. Biggers inside in certain situations…No playing time for Marcus Smith this week.