What’s Wrong With the 2013 Eagles? It’s the Talent, Stupid.

Chip Kelly's fun new system is not going to fix the Birds' problems.

At halftime of the Eagles’ opener against Washington, it wouldn’t have been surprising if someone scaled City Hall and replaced the statue of Billy Penn with one of Chip Kelly. That’s the kind of restraint and objectivity this town shows regarding its professional football franchise.

It’s a good thing nobody affected that transfer, because when Mr. Time’s Your’s came in to the Linc last Thursday and sent the Birds to their second straight defeat, somebody might have climbed back up and chopped off Kelly’s head.

Three games into the 2013 NFL season, Eagles fans have already experienced a whole season’s worth of emotional highs and lows. The first 30 minutes’ ecstasy created a surge of emotion generally associated with a playoff win, while the two subsequent defeats have fostered the kind of discontent that was evident during the second half of last year.

Of course, many members of the media have played into the emotional pendulum swing by glorifying the Birds after they defeated Washington, an  0-3 that looks worse than its record, and by vilifying the home team as it staggered against San Diego and Kansas City. Objectivity doesn’t sell in this town, so it’s best to capitalize on minute-to-minute sentiment rather than providing perspective.

Here, now, a little perspective:

This team just doesn’t have enough talent to be very good.

If anybody had been truly honest with himself before the season began, or even after the big win over Washington, he would have realized that teams aren’t successful in the NFL just because they have a super-cool scheme. They win with players who are very good at what they do. With stars. Pro Bowlers. After three games, it has become rather clear the Eagles have a dearth of those players. So, expecting big things out of them, simply because Chip Kelly’s offense once worked wonders against Washington State and Cal is unreasonable. One of the main reasons Kelly’s offense worked wonders against Washington State and Cal is that his Oregon teams had better players.

The Eagles outgunned Danny Snyder’s team, but against better opposition, the Eagles haven’t crackled the same way—on either side of the ball. The offense has looked good at times and ordinary at others, while the defense has been vulnerable at just about every turn.

Let’s start with the defense. No matter how rejuvenated Trent Cole has been or how much of an insane playmaker Mychal Kendricks has become—at least according to cheerleading media—the unit lacks anybody who would even be considered in the Pro Bowl discussion. Most wouldn’t get consideration as alternates. Think about that for a second. The Birds are trying to win a division in the NFL with a defense comprised largely of players who would be backups on contending teams.

Do you understand what that means? Instead of having a unit capable of shutting down opposing offenses, the Eagles are at their mercy. If they misfire and stutter, as Washington did in the first half when quarterback Robert Griffin III was unsure about whether his knee would splinter apart again, then the Birds are okay. If they are confident and competent, as Phillip Rivers and San Diego were, trouble looms. And if they can control the ball for more than eight minutes on a fourth quarter drive and add a field goal that puts the game out of reach, like Kansas City did, well, maybe it’s possible to petition the league for a 12th player.

As for the lightning-fast offense that would tax even Silicon Valley’s greatest minds, there are some problems there. Let’s start with the receiving corps, which includes DeSean Jackson and a bunch of backup singers. Granted, Jason Avant catches everything thrown his way, and Riley Cooper has had a couple moments, but KC showed that if you double-team Jackson, the Eagles’ passing attack is not quite so lethal.

As for the line, consider that Lane Johnson is playing like a rookie, and the rest of the bunch didn’t look so great the past two games, when Michael Vick had far more traffic around him than he did against Washington. And when things get crowded in the pocket, Vick’s ability to make quick, wise decisions drops. Think Andy Reid knew that Thursday night?

As for LeSean McCoy, please keep him healthy. Please.


So, let’s calm down on the talk about how Kelly is going to revolutionize the game and whether a starter’s gun should be fired before the opening kickoff to signify the beginning of a weekly sprint-medley relay. This team’s problem is a lack of talent throughout the roster that will inhibit its ability to compete, even if the NFC East is gawdawful, and the Giants appear ready to be relegated to the Ivy League.

The good news? Howie Roseman is right there ready to fix everything during the next off-season.


Sucker Punches

• The Phillies staged the ideal Fan Appreciation Day Sunday. They gave away some stuff and then lost to the Mets. It was the perfect way to let fans know just how bad the team is. Will it be possible for everyone to forget how ugly this season has been when the off-season of excuses commences, and the advertising campaign is launched that tries to generate a positive buzz for 2014? Don’t bet on it.

• About the only good news Phillies fans can enjoy—other than the fact that the fetid Mets missed the post-season again—is that it appears as if that juggernaut to the south, Washington, will miss the post-season, too. Everybody’s February World Series pick is five back in the wild-card race with six to play, and it looks like that Nat-titude dynasty that was poised to take over baseball is on hold. It’s sad to say, but schadenfreude is the lone baseball pleasure available around here these days.

• Let’s hear it for football players from Georgia Tech, Northwestern and Georgia, who wrote anti-NC2A messages on their uniforms Saturday and referenced All Players United (APU) to protest the NC2A’s poor treatment of athletes on everything from concussions to compensation. This is something that needs to gain traction, and it would be great if it spread throughout the country. All that’s missing is a college athletes’ Marvin Miller, and you can’t tell me some hungry law student isn’t out there, ready to take on that mantle.