Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Full Report Card Grades for Philly
Unfortunately, the result did not get better with age.
Forget the salt a returning Andy Reid dumped into the wound, coaching his new team to victory over the franchise that fired him after 14 years of service. Chip Kelly’s Birds have enough of their own problems to sort out coming off back-to-back losses to drop the club’s record to 1-2.
It’s way too early for panic and nobody ever claimed there weren’t going to be some growing pains, but, needless to say, Kelly’s team has plenty of room for improvement.
This latest loss was much different from the last, though, as the defense mostly held up its end of the bargain while it was Chip’s offense that dropped the ball. Philadelphia committed five turnovers over the course of 60 minutes, while defensive coordinator Bill Davis’ unit held Kansas City out of the end zone until the fourth quarter.
It should be noted that, despite the five giveaways, it took the Chiefs until late in the fourth quarter to put the Birds away. San Diego won in Week 2 on a last-minute field goal.
So while there is work left to do, keep in mind that the Eagles are at least competing.
Here is how each unit fared against the Chiefs.
Head coach Chip Kelly seemed to absolve his quarterback somewhat for Thursday’s disastrous performance, shifting the blame to the Eagles' offensive line during his postgame press conference.
“It really comes down to protection… and we'll continue to work on that, but I don't think Mike's got to shoulder all the blame on that,” he said (h/t PhiladelphiaEagles.com).
Kelly was responding to a question about Michael Vick falling into old habits—they went away?—and while protection was certainly an issue, that wasn’t the problem on either of his two interceptions.
Vick made a horrendous read on the first INT, his throw into double coverage resulting in a pick-six for Kansas City.
He threw behind his intended receiver for a second turnover, and though pressure did force him to reset in the pocket, there was room to step up and deliver the football—a veteran of 11 years needs to be able to adjust his timing in those situations.
Besides the two giveaways, Vick was indecisive and inaccurate even when he did have time, completing just 13 of 30 passes.
Simply put, while the Eagles need to be better up front, the field general can’t shrink whenever there’s a little pass rush.
You can add another adjective to the list used to describe LeSean McCoy: gutsy.
When the Eagles’ workhorse back went down clutching his ankle and writhing in pain late in the first half, it seemed only a question of how many weeks—not series—Shady was going to miss. Not only did McCoy emerge from the locker room a few plays into the third quarter, he didn’t appear be slowed at all.
92 of McCoy’s 158 rushing yards on Thursday came after his injury, including gains of 30 and 41 yards— the latter of which went for a touchdown.
Actually, he averaged over twice as many yards per carry after the ding (10.2) than before (5.0).
Following the game, Shady told Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer that his injury was a high ankle sprain and was still bothering him on some of those runs in the second half.
Good thing for the Eagles that they have 10 days between games for their All-Pro back to heal up.
On one hand, Jason Avant makes for a nice security blanket for Vick out of the slot. The eight-year veteran had his best game of this young season so far by hauling in five passes for 87 yards, including a fantastic diving grab in the end zone for a 22-yard score.
On the flip side, you could see the Eagles were really missing Jeremy Maclin (ACL) on Thursday night.
Riley Cooper simply does not get much separation, and while Vick tried to force the ball into his No. 2 receiver seven times, those targets resulted in just two catches for 29 yards.
Without help, better defensive teams such as Kansas City are likelier to contain DeSean Jackson. After entering Week 3 as the NFL’s leading receiver, DJacc had just three receptions for 62 yards—and that was with the Chiefs’ top cornerback fighting through a knee injury for much of the night.
At least Cooper is an exceptional blocker, so he’s not a total waste, but you could tell Eagles receivers were having trouble getting open out there.
For all the hype about how huge a role tight ends would have in Chip Kelly’s offense, we actually seem to be seeing less and less evidence of that as the weeks go by.
Brent Celek was targeted five times against Kansas City, yet only wound up with two catches for 18 yards. The Eagles spent a second-round pick on Zach Ertz in April, but that has yet to pay off, as he had just the one look for five yards.
James Casey, who was signed to a three-year, $12 million deal in the offseason, can hardly get on the field for the offense. He was held without a target for the second time in three weeks.
These are all solid NFL tight ends in their own right. It just hasn’t translated into numbers.
Week 3 against Kansas City was a tale of two games for the Eagles’ offensive line.
It is without a doubt one of the NFL's elite run-blocking units, as evidenced by Philadelphia’s 264 yards on the ground on Thursday—the second time this season that Philly's run game has produced more than 260 yards. That’s about as good as it gets.
It’s clear the team has some issues in pass protection, though—specifically on the right side.
Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston abused guard Todd Herremans and rookie tackle Lane Johnson to the tune of 4.5 sacks, and it’s not the first time this year that we’ve seen both of them struggle to keep the quarterback clean.
Even Jason Peters—traditionally an anchor at that left tackle position—had more than his fair share of issues with Tamba Hali.
Once you add Jason Kelce’s botched snap that resulted in a turnover, it’s impossible to give this unit a decent score. We can’t exactly fail it either because of the great things it is doing in the ground attack.
Let’s just say it's got some homework to do.
Very strong game up front, at least until the line wore down. Thanks to five turnovers by the Eagles and none for Kansas City, the Chiefs dominated time of possession (nearly 40 minutes to 20) and the defensive line weakened as the game went along.
Through the first three quarters, the explosive Jamaal Charles carried nine times for a grand total of 19 yards. Unfortunately, he wound up going for 11 and 72 in the fourth alone.
The line also had a lot to do with giving Alex Smith happy feet, which partially explains why he ran the ball 10 times and rarely bothered attempting to throw the ball downfield.
Fletcher Cox had a sack and two tackles for loss. Vinny Curry—activated for the first time this season—notched his first career sack as well.
The one disappointment continues to be in the middle in the form of Isaac Sopoaga. He is pretty much invisible both on the stat sheet and tape on a weekly basis.
Otherwise, this was an encouraging performance for the Birds’ defensive line.
The outside linebackers played well. The inside linebackers, not so much.
Trent Cole came up with a sack and was an absolute force in the running game. The Chiefs tried to ram Jamaal Charles up the left side early, but Cole was wreaking havoc on the edge.
Brandon Graham got to the quarterback once as well and rushed the passer consistently whenever he got into the game. Connor Barwin very nearly came up with a pick-six on a wide receiver screen.
On the flip side, Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans racked up hollow numbers on the interior for the second week in a row. The two combined for 16 tackles, but they had a hand in allowing Charles’ seven receptions for 80 yards and wide receiver Donnie Avery’s multiple huge gains on shallow routes through the middle.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Kendricks also missed three tackles on Thursday.
When you couple all of this with the issues at safety and nose tackle, the Eagles have serious problems right in the middle of their defense.
There is going to be a tendency to look at Donnie Avery’s seven receptions for 141 yards as an indictment of the Eagles’ cornerbacks, but that’s not particularly fair.
A sizable portion of those numbers were racked up on shallow crossing routes in long down-and-distance situations where the slot corner was playing off.
Avery was picking up blocks down the field—some of those admittedly on corners—but linebackers and safeties taking bad angles or not being able to release from said blocks were the bigger problems.
Look no further than what the Chiefs’ outside receivers managed to do against Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher for evidence that they actually performed well. A.J. Jenkins had one catch for six yards on two targets. Dwayne Bowe—who has gone for over 1,000 receiving yards in a season three times—caught one ball for four yards on three targets.
Chiefs QB Alex Smith notoriously never made great use of his receivers on the perimeter in San Francisco either, so we’re definitely grading on a curve.
Regardless, Williams and Fletcher did what they were meant to when they were brought to Philly during the offseason.
The good news is Nate Allen played quite well—at least for Nate Allen. He wasn’t a sieve in the passing game and wasn’t on the hook for any glaring missed tackles. Moreover, he came up with a sack and broke up a pass.
Of course, it probably helped that Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith rarely looked to attack downfield.
Oh well. Plug one leak at safety, spring another one anyway.
It was Patrick Chung’s turn to get exposed, and in what phase wasn’t he? He didn’t get the job done when his number was called in coverage. Even worse, Pro Football Focus counted three missed tackles by Chung—tied for the club high.
Earl Wolff saw some action again as well, but he was out of position, took bad angles and was credited with a missed tackle too in limited snaps.
This group’s inability to finish plays was a big reason why Donnie Avery was able to convert two third downs of 15 or more yards out of the slot. That shouldn’t happen once in a game, let alone multiple times.
Somehow, I don’t see this unit getting much better by next week.
For the second consecutive week, the revamped special teams looked anything but. The Chiefs had excellent field position on two kickoff returns, including one aided by a 15-yard personal foul against kicker Alex Henery.
Speaking of Henery, he missed a field goal for the second week in a row. This one probably didn’t matter, but it’s become a troubling trend.
The biggest sin occurred early in the game, however, when Damaris Johnson muffed a punt at his own 8-yard line after the defense forced a three-and-out on the Chiefs’ opening possession. The fumble spotted Kansas City three points, and the Eagles were fortunate it wasn’t six.
Johnson also goes down far too easily on returns.
The punt coverage unit is the only aspect that kept the special teams from a failing grade, as Donnie Jones pinned the opponent inside its own 20-yard line twice on four punts.
Every other aspect of Philly's special teams is in need of drastic and immediate improvement.