Former coach Andy Reid got a standing ovation from Philadelphia fans before the the game, but it might be a while before Chip Kelly gets one.
Kelly and the new but not improved Eagles fell to 1-2 after an error-prone 26-16 loss to Reid and his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Birds suffered five turnovers and five sacks, trailing 10-0 quickly after Damaris Johnson fumbled a Chiefs punt at his own eight (field goal) and Michael Vick locked on to one receiver on the next possession and threw a pick six, an easy 38-yard touchdown for former Tennessee Volunteer Eric Berry.
Dealing in hypotheticals: the questions won’t get easier for Chip Kelly in the City of Brotherly skepticism. His 1-2 Eagles face Peyton Manning and Denver in their next game (phillysportlivephoto).
Since an opening win at Washington not much has gone right for the former Oregon coach in the NFL. His offense has racked up yards but the defense can’t stop anybody. The entire team is prone to costly mistakes. During the 33-30 loss to San Diego last week they drove close in the closing minutes for a potential go-ahead touchdown but the drive stalled when Vick had to leave the field for one play after being shaken up with an injury that stopped play. Kelly admitted afterward that he didn’t know his quarterback could have stayed in the game if he’d called a time out. The coach also drew criticism also for not adjusting the offensive tempo on the final drive. When they had to settle for the field goal to tie at 30-30, they left 1:47 on the clock, giving Philip Rivers and the Chargers plenty of time to drive for a clinching chip shot.
Vick was just 13-30 passing in Thursday night’s game, with 2 interceptions and a fumble. He did have a 61-yard keeper in the first quarter. LeSean McCoy rambled for 158 yards on the ground; after three games he leads the league with 395 yards rushing. Already Vick is battered and hobbled. Late in the game he was limping around on a sore ankle. It doesn’t look like the retooled Philadelphia offensive line will be able to keep the 33-year-old healthy through a long NFL season.
After the game the coach told the Associated Press,
“We need to hold onto the ball and sustain drives and get their defense gassed,” Kelly said. “We’re not running enough plays. We’re turning the ball over. We call them self-inflicted wounds. We have too many of them to win games.”
Things may get worse for Kelly: in their next game a week from Sunday his team travels to Denver to face the 2-0 Broncos.
The principal problem The Visor faces in bringing Oregon football to the NFL is that he inherited a 4-12 team with a weak defense and no depth. At the pro level he has just a 53-man roster to work with, and in the first season, his team isn’t fully acclimated to the Oregon way or the Oregon pace.
Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was honored at halftime of the Kansas City game. In an interview Wednesdy he told columnist Ryan Wilson of cbs.com that he thought Kelly’s offense was “just a passing fad.”
“I don’t know if any offensive player would want to run 90 plays in a game. If you’re running 90 plays in a game, that means your defense is pretty awful and you’re running entirely too many plays. At Oregon, [Kelly] may have ran 75 plays in a game, but you’re not going to run 85, 90, not in the NFL, and teams and defensive coordinators are a lot better than what you’re going to see in college.”
“It’s not so much Mike, I think it’s all the guys,” McNabb said. “You worry about the depth, you’re worried about the injuries and long-term. Right now, everything looks great, but I’m just worried as this thing continues. Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, if guys get hurt, who’s going to step in? What guys do you have to fill in in these key roles?”
The situation might not improve until next April when he selects a younger, more durable quarterback with a more reliable passing arm, surrounding him with players who believe fully in what Kelly’s trying to do.