Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Blame Game
Jordan Matthews talked extensively after the Eagles’ loss Saturday night about his team’s deficiencies. Drops. Bad blocking. Blown touchdown opportunities.
But, he insisted, Chip Kelly should not be blamed.
“Players play, and we didn’t play well. Coach Kelly can’t go out there and catch passes. He can’t go out there and tuck the ball. He just has to put guys in position to make plays,” Matthews said. “That’s all a coach is supposed to do: put you in positions to be one-on-one or put you in positions to make plays. And when you don’t do that, it’s not coach Kelly’s fault. That’s ours. We’re out there on the field so we got to go make that happen.”
Matthews is right, to a point. Players were put in a position to be successful several times against Washington — such as Nelson Agholor’s drop in the end zone and Sam Bradford’s overthrow of Zach Ertz that likely would have been a touchdown — but they simply didn’t execute.
While that may absolve Kelly the coach to some degree, it only puts Kelly the GM in an even hotter seat.
Philadelphia ranks 24th in the NFL in points per drive, according to Football Outsiders, which isn’t very surprising when you consider the awful offensive line play, the lack of production from receivers and the new quarterback’s adjustment period.
Although there have been questionable coaching decisions — the running back workload split and predictability problems immediately come to mind — the Eagles’ biggest obstacle on offense has been their lack of talent. E.J. Biggers summed up Saturday’s loss quite well, saying “when guys play better than you for longer, that’s what happens.”
Washington’s front was simply better than Philadelphia’s blockers, and it showed both in the run game and pass game. The Eagles averaged just 2.8 yards per carry against an atrocious run defense — Washington ranks 31st in the NFL in yards per carry allowed, giving up nearly five yards per attempt. Philadelphia also allowed Bradford to be sacked five times and hit nine times against a unit that averages slightly more than two sacks per game.
But perhaps the biggest indictment of the Eagles’ coaching came on the opposite side of the ball by Malcolm Jenkins, who indirectly implicated his defensive coordinator after the game.
“When I look at the roster and I look at every guy in the locker room, we have talent and we have guys that can play. But for whatever reason as a cohesive unit, we’re not that good,” Jenkins said. “I think that everybody in this organization has a hand in that. We just couldn’t figure it out.”
One of a coach’s most fundamental duties is to get the most out of his players, and Billy Davis hasn’t done that in his three-year tenure. Despite the resources the Eagles invested in their defense, the unit has actually regressed each year in points per drive allowed.
Perhaps Davis’ unit has suffered from tired legs because they’re on the field more than any other defense in the NFL, but the Eagles have too much talent to give up at least 38 points in about a quarter of their games.
According to Reuben Frank, Philadelphia has given up the most touchdown passes in franchise history, and the season isn’t even over yet. The Eagles are also just the fifth team in NFL history to allow at least 400 total yards in six consecutive games.
“It’s awful,” Davis said. “This is the last place you wanted to be, but this is where we find ourselves. We have to look hard at everybody and everything we’re doing. We have to ask ourselves why it’s happening and fix it and do the best we can going into next week.”
Unfortunately for Davis, he seems to be the biggest reason “it’s happening,” and the best way to “fix it” is for the Eagles to find a new defensive coordinator.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“Something off,” “an omen,” and more in Tim’s insightful day-after notes.
“This is where I want to be.” Sam Bradford on his future in Philadelphia.
DeSean Jackson was “disturbed” by the booing he heard from Eagles fans.
Four downs: My biggest takeaways on Saturday as Chip Kelly fell short once again.
Instant observations: What Tim saw at the Linc as the Eagles’ playoff hopes disappeared.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Sam Bradford has shown he’s worth keeping, says Bob Brookover.
As for the quarterback, Sam Bradford deserved only a small amount of blame for what happened this season and almost none for the unnatural disaster that unfolded Saturday night during the Eagles’ 38-24 loss to a Washington team that clinched the NFC East by becoming the first and only team to eight wins.
Yes, there was that moment in the second quarter when Bradford simultaneously saw Zach Ertz running alone down the left sideline and a blitzing Redskins defender bearing down on him. Bradford badly overthrew Ertz and a chance for six points disappeared.
Les Bowen confirmed a report that Jason Peters took himself out of Saturday’s game.
Over the years, Peters has been revered as an Eagles cornerstone, first for Andy Reid, then for Chip Kelly. His judgments, when offered, have been taken as gospel. Peters isn’t one to try to drown the truth in a torrent of rationalizations or excuses.
So what to make of a source close to the situation confirming Sunday that Peters took himself out of the final throes of the Birds’ 38-24 loss to Washington Saturday night, because he “didn’t want the risk of getting hurt for a team that is not going to the playoffs”?
Chip Kelly will speak to the media at 1 p.m.