New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Takeaways from Philly's 15-7 Loss
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than the Philadelphia Eagles’ 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week, here come the New York Giants. The Birds’ 15-7 collapse at the hands of the G-men on Sunday was in many ways an even bigger disaster.
You could lay almost all of the blame for the setback against Dallas on Nick Foles, the signal-caller who was completely powerless to move the offense. This time around, though, one guy wasn’t the whole problem—yet if you had to point the finger, look no further than the top of the food chain.
Most of the observations from this loss are going to come back on Chip Kelly and the decisions the head coach made both on the sideline and during the week leading up to the game. As Andy Reid would say, Kelly needs do a better job of putting his players in a position to win the game.
It’s disconcerting for a franchise that just fired its coach during the offseason, but the man under the headset was among the chief issues on Sunday. We examine why and much more in this week’s takeaways.
Michael Vick Shouldn't Have Been Playing
Mike Vick to the rescue? Hardly.
While it was admirable of the four-time Pro Bowler to don his Superman cape and attempt to fight through the strained hamstring that kept him out the previous two weeks, it wasn’t wise. Vick wound up exiting in the second quarter after aggravating the injury and will likely be out even longer now.
Vick was not very effective even when he was in the game, completing six of nine passes for 31 yards (3.4 AVG) with an interception and a sack. It was clear he was not very mobile from the outset, and when you take Vick’s ability as a runner out of the equation, you’re left with a mediocre quarterback.
You can’t blame Vick for wanting to help the team, but Chip Kelly knew the 11-year veteran wasn’t 100 percent, waiting until Friday to declare a starter. There were better ways to go about this.
Matt Barkley Should've Taken First-Team Reps
Ideally, Matt Barkley wouldn’t be playing right now, much less starting. Given Vick’s status, however, it was obvious the Eagles should’ve prepared all week as if the rookie was going to be the starter on Sunday.
True, Barkley did take some first-team reps in practice this week, but Vick received the majority of them. That meant no matter what Vick did in his so-called test run on Friday, Kelly had essentially committed to playing the 11-year veteran.
When Vick inevitably went down, the fourth-round pick out of USC had to replace him anyway—only without the benefit of a full week’s worth of practice.
All things considered, Barkley was OK, completing 17 of 26 passes for 158 yards (6.1 AVG) with three sacks and a desperation interception. He was also stripped from behind for a second turnover. It’s clear he was not always in sync with the rest of the offense though, something the extra reps might’ve helped with.
Maybe not, but it still would’ve been better than the alternative.
Back to Nick Foles?
So what happens next under center for the Eagles? Barkley doesn’t look ready, and it seems improbable that Vick will be healed by next week.
It could be back to Foles—assuming he’s healthy. The second-year passer was unavailable this week after suffering a concussion against Dallas, so he has to complete NFL protocol before he can even be cleared to play.
Assuming it does, though, it seems Foles will have an opportunity to redeem himself after playing the worst game of his career a week ago. The 24-year-old was 11-of-29 for 80 yards (2.8 AVG) with no touchdowns, no interceptions and three sacks in the loss.
Read-Option Not Working
Kelly has said time and time again that he’s not a “system” coach; he coaches to the schemes to the strengths of his personnel. Then why is seemingly every running play that’s called based around the read-option concept?
The Giants weren’t respecting the read-option even when a hobbled Vick was in the games. Defenses never respect it when Foles or Barkley are in the game. The quarterback isn’t drawing a defender away from the back because there’s little to no threat of a QB keeper resulting in a big gain.
It’s especially frustrating in short-yardage situations, as zone-read plays can take time to develop. How about handing the ball to LeSean McCoy on a simple dive play up the middle?
The running game is struggling as a result of the lack of imagination. McCoy gained 48 yards on 15 carries (3.2 AVG), the third time in four games he was held under 4.0 yards per attempt. That’s not getting the job done.
Chip Kelly's Dubious Play-Calling
Some of Kelly’s questionable play calls have already been placed under the microscope this season, but it hadn’t really come back to haunt the Eagles—until Sunday. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to when they would be aggressive and when they wouldn’t.
What about 4th-and-10 from the Giants’ 32-yard line in the third quarter? The Eagles went for it, down 12-0, rather than attempt a 49-yard field goal. What about 4th-and-4 from the Giants’ 47 less than 15 minutes later? That’s a punt.
Even something as simple as Chip calling on Barkley to throw the football with 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line rather than handing the ball off to McCoy flies in the face of any logic. Why put that on a rookie QB when you have one of the best backs in the NFL? Barkley was strip-sacked, and Philly got nothing from the drive.
Add in the fact that his zone-read offense doesn’t seem suited to the personnel, and it made Kelly look clueless on Sunday. It made Reid look like a great game manager by comparison.
Eagles Offense Hasn’t Scored a Touchdown in Two Games
Philadelphia’s lone touchdown came on a special teams miscue by New York, when the ball was snapped over punter Steve Weatherford’s head. Linebacker Najee Goode picked it up and went into the end zone for the Eagles’ only points.
After managing only a field goal against the Cowboys last week, that now makes two games in a row the Eagles offense has failed to score a touchdown. Vick, Foles and Barkley, don’t matter—two games, zero touchdowns.
Even the three points against Dallas were largely a result of an interception by the defense that gave the Eagles the ball in enemy territory. It's pretty easy to get a triple when the offense starts in field-goal range.
This is the same offense that was averaging 27.7 points per game and had racked up over 425 yards of total offense every week through the first six. They look completely different now, and while the instability at the quarterback position hasn’t helped, other teams with similar issues manage to sniff the end zone now and again.
Defense Playing Above Their Heads
Once again, you can’t blame the Eagles defense for any of this. They managed to keep New York out of the end zone for the full 60 minutes on Sunday despite the offense punting the ball away six times, turning it over three, and losing possession on downs twice more.
This is coming off a strong game against a very good Dallas offense as well. The Birds’ D held the Cowboys to 17 last week, despite nine punts and three turnovers.
It’s difficult enough to hold teams to 17 even with a good offense. When the defense is constantly going back on the field, often with the opponent in good field position, it’s actually understandable when they inevitably fall apart down the stretch.
That hasn’t been the Eagles very often this season, though. Philadelphia’s defense has only allowed two opposing offenses to score more than 21 points in a game this season. With a record like that, you’d think this team would be better than 3-5, but the offense has been nonexistent far too often.
Home Losing Streak Reaches Double Digits
When was the Eagles’ last win at Lincoln Financial Field? September 30, 2012, against the New York Giants. Since then, the Birds’ have dropped 10 straight games in front of their own fans.
With a couple of road games coming up, it’ll be at least three weeks until the Eagles get another chance. They host Washington on November 17, at which time the losing streak will be 413 days old.
It’s embarrassing for the franchise to be sure. More than anything, though, it’s hard to garner much fan support these days, as losing is just what you would expect when you buy a ticket to the Linc.
NFC East Feeding on Birds
Two weeks ago, the Eagles were vying for first place in the NFC East. Now they’ve lost back-to-back games against their most bitter rivals.
You can forgive them for not coming out on top in their tilt with the Cowboys. This was considered by most to be a rebuilding year in Philadelphia, and a division championship was considered unlikely by many in the first place. It’s just not that high on the list of priorities compared to, say, finding a franchise quarterback.
But allowing the Giants to pick up their second win of the season on Sunday? That one stings a little bit, especially the way the Birds handled Big Blue only three weeks ago.
More to the point, you can kiss any chance of winning the division goodbye if they drop many more games to NFC East opponents. Philly has a win over Washington but has already split with the Giants and are one down to the Cowboys. They likely must complete a sweep of the Skins and beat Dallas in Week 17 to stand any chance now.
Chip Kelly Losing Credibility?
What a roller-coaster ride it’s already been for Chip Kelly since arriving in Philly. There have been mixed feelings about hiring a college coach with zero NFL experience of any kind from day one, especially one bringing a “college-style offense” with him.
There have been highs and lows all season, but losing 17-3 to the Cowboys and 15-7 to the Giants in successive weeks at home might be rock bottom. It’s hard to argue that offense is working when it goes two weeks without producing a single touchdown.
What’s more, his play-calling is becoming increasingly questionable. He chooses odd situations to be aggressive; it isn’t when the situation dictates he should be.
Obviously, a lot of the problems the Eagles are experiencing are personnel-based. They don’t have a franchise QB, one of their top receivers is out for the year and the majority of the pieces are what’s left over from the previous regime.
That said, Andy Reid never went two consecutive weeks without his offense scoring a touchdown last season with practically the same roster. Whether there’s any factual evidence for it or not, you know people are going to be talking about Kelly potentially losing the locker room, perhaps even fleeing back to college at season’s end.
That stuff is all part of the job but only when things are going terribly—which they certainly are in Philly
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