He’s not going to bench anybody. He doesn’t have anybody to replace them with. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said Monday he has no plans to shake up the starting lineup on either side of the ball in the wake of the Eagles’ nightmarish 52-20 loss to the Broncos Sunday in Denver.
The Eagles have lost three straight games to fall to 1-3, and the only thing that kept Sunday’s game from being the sixth-most lopsided loss in franchise history was a late touchdown pass from backup quarterback Nick Foles to backup Jeff Maehl and the fact that Peyton Manning didn’t play in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, Kelly said the Eagles will go with what they’ve been going with.
It’s not like the solution to the Eagles’ problems is sitting on the bench, waiting for his chance. “It's unique,” Kelly said. “We have 46 guys on our [game-day] roster, and I think almost all 46 played [Sunday]. So it's not like we are not getting guys in the game and guys are not playing and aren't [getting] an opportunity right now. “You don't have a whole [lot of] other guys, like, ‘Let's put these guys in.’”
All 46 guys who were in uniform Sunday did play on either offense or defense, and all position players other than backup offensive linemen Allen Barbre and Julian Vandervelde and rookie cornerback Jordan Poyer played on offense or defense. Of Sunday’s inactives, there’s nobody that sticks out as someone who can help the Eagles turn things around. “We are rotating our defensive linemen in and getting those guys in the game,” Kelly said. “Jake Knott played a little bit of inside linebacker. Casey [Matthews] played some outside linebacker.
“Obviously we are a man down with safety with Pat [Chung] being out but [Earl] Wolff played a lot of snaps, Nate [Allen] played a lot of snaps. We rotated a little bit at receiver and we started to get some of our tight ends into the game. I think you saw three running backs in the game. “There's not going to be, ‘Hey, this [new] guy is starting this week.’”
What options does Kelly have? Riley Cooper’s eight catches are the fewest of all 38 wide receivers who have started all four games this year, and his 93 yards are second-fewest. Maehl came in at the very end of the game Sunday and quickly caught two passes – a 37-yarder and a touchdown. Despite playing only 2½ minutes Sunday, he had more yards (43) than Cooper has had in any games this year. But getting Jeff Maehl more reps isn’t going to turn the season around. Todd Herremans has struggled at right guard, but since the first-round pick the Eagles spent on a right guard in 2011 is long gone, there really isn’t an alternative. Barbre for Herremans? That’s not going to inject life.
All the defensive backs have struggled, but there aren’t any options. The only guys who aren’t playing, Shaun Prater and Jordan Poyer, are very young and inexperienced. Zach Ertz is making some plays, but Kelly isn’t about to bench Brent Celek for a rookie still learning the game both as a receiver and on the line of scrimmage. Foles for Michael Vick? Kelly made it clear Sunday night that’s not going to happen. So there’s really not a lot Kelly can do, not with the roster the Eagles currently have. And general manager Howie Roseman is a believer in developing the players the Eagles have instead of going out and trying to patch holes with veterans who are on the street or unwanted elsewhere.
“We’re still early in our program,” Roseman said on his 94 WIP radio show Monday night. “We’re four games in, and we want to develop the young guys we have here.” So if the Eagles are going to turn their season around, it appears it will be without any lineup changes. At least not yet.
- Reuben Frank, CSN Philly