In a day when the Detroit Lions edged out the Dallas Cowboys in thrilling fashion, the Eagles failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity. Chip Kelly’s Eagles have now scored a grand total of three offensive points in the last eight quarters, and they’ve been shut out in the first half for two straight weeks.
The Eagles are just 3-5 in a dreadful NFC East. Remarkably, they’re still just a game behind the Cowboys for first place in the division, and Philly does play an Oakland Raiders team next week that doesn’t pose too much of a threat. Then again, the Eagles don’t seem capable of beating any team but the Jacksonville Jaguars right now, and it’s still unknown who will start at quarterback for Week 9.
There wasn’t much to take away from today’s 60 minutes of inept football, but here are some observations.
Remember when the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants were one of the best rivalries in the NFL? This matchup was a shell of what the teams used to be.
Michael Vick left early due to injury, giving way to rookie third-string quarterback Matt Barkley (in for an injured Nick Foles). Barkley was unable to generate any offensive points, and the game boiled down to Giants’ kicker Josh Brown’s ability to kick field goal after field goal.
The Eagles played flat and lifeless, accumulating just 201 yards of offense. They posed no threat to a Giants team that ranked near the bottom of the pack in defense, and they’ve made a mockery out of home games at Lincoln Financial Field, dropping their 10th straight.
It really doesn’t matter who plays quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles anymore.
Michael Vick isn’t the long-term answer, and he won’t be back in 2014. Nick Foles is a fine backup, but he’s not the player to direct the Chip Kelly offense in the future. And Matt Barkley is playing like an undrafted rookie, not a player some thought could have been a high first-round pick had he come out in 2012.
Kelly will likely spend the rest of the season with one eye on the college scoreboards, seeing how Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, or Tajh Boyd is doing. Kelly knows the NFL is a quarterback league; after all, the Indianapolis Colts went from the worst team in the league to a perennial playoff contender simply by adding Andrew Luck.
Kelly has the pieces in place for the offense to be competitive. The offensive line has a strong group of blockers, all signed through 2014. LeSean McCoy is the game’s second-best running back, DeSean Jackson is a playmaking wide receiver and Zach Ertz is an up-and-coming tight end.
Billy Davis has quietly done a fine job recently as the team’s defensive coordinator. He inherited a roster lacking talent at many of the key defensive positions, and he’s held the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants to just two total touchdowns and 32 points the last two weeks.
The switch to a 3-4 defense is admittedly puzzling, given that Trent Cole is playing out of position and the Philadelphia Eagles are lacking a quality nose tackle. Connor Barwin seems to be the only logical fit for the new defense.
But Davis’ defense held Eli Manning without a touchdown pass today. They limited the running backs to just 2.8 yards per carry (the Giants were on their fifth and sixth running backs, but that’s still a good performance by the Eagles).
And next week the defense plays an Oakland Raiders team that isn’t exactly overflowing with playmakers. That could be three fine weeks in a row for the Eagles’ D.
A backup linebacker named Najee Goode almost saved the Philadelphia Eagles’ day, when he fell on a punt near the end zone and scored a touchdown. That cut the New York Giants’ lead to just eight points, giving another opportunity for both the defense and then Matt Barkley to salvage their day.
Had the Eagles come back to win this one, Goode may have etched his name into Eagles-Giants lore, along with players like Herman Edwards, Brian Westbrook, and DeSean Jackson. But it wasn’t meant to be, and the Eagles lost, 15-7.
The Chip Kelly Philadelphia Eagles fans thought they were getting isn’t the one they’ve seen in recent weeks. Fans expected Kelly to employ his high-tempo offense, running plays as frequently as he did in the first quarter of the Week 1 matchup against the Washington Redskins.
But that hasn’t been the case. Kelly has been shockingly conservative with his play-calling, yet at other times he seems downright confusing. Kelly elected to kick a 60-yard field goal last week, but this week he went for fourth down rather than kick a 50-yarder with Alex Henery. Kelly was thought to be a tight end fanatic, but he’s generally ignored $12 million free-agent signing James Casey, playing him maybe three snaps per game.
The Eagles don’t have the quarterback they need for the future, but there’s no excuse for an offense putting up a grand total of zero touchdowns in a two-week span. Kelly can be in no way written off as a bust of a coach; he inherited a 4-12 team and a 3-5 record should be what is to be expected at midseason. But it’s more his style of coaching that is most surprising.