Shutdown Corner

Chip Kelly admits a day later that milking the clock might have been the best plan at game’s end

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner

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(USA Today Sports Images)

The San Diego Chargers earned a huge road victory, and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly deserves an assist.

The Eagles' zoom-zoom approach was the talk of the NFL last Monday, but a week later we are left to second-guess their approach considering the way the Week 2 game ended.

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And we're not the only ones. Kelly isn't above reproach here from self-criticism, which is a good thing we suppose.

“I was trying to score; that’s all on me, that’s my call,” Kelly said on WIP. “I didn’t want it to leave it in the hands of, it’s a tie ballgame. If you score, you’re up four. You got to drive a length of the field to try to score a touchdown. When you look at it in hindsight, maybe we should have bled the clock and not giving them enough time to come down and do it.

"You learn from those situations. But we were trying to score seven, not three. We felt like we had three, and just thought we had the opportunity to put one in there, and we didn’t get it. We didn’t capitalize.”

Seven vs. three is a big deal in the NFL. Two threes do not add up to more than or equal to seven. But two — as in the number of timeouts left in the Chargers' pockets — also is important. So is 1:51 — the time left on the clock when the Eagles kicked a field goal late.

Here's how it went down ... and for Philly fans tired of cringe-worthy clock-management moments, please stay with us.

The Eagles were down three with 3:11 left on Sunday. They went to the no-huddle offense (duh) and drove swiftly down the field. Michael Vick hit DeSean Jackson with a 25-yard pass to the Chargers' 14-yard line, with 2:35 left. But instead of taking the clock under the two-minute warning — standard football operating procedure — the Eagles tried to score on the front side of 2:00.

Some habits are intrinsic, perhaps.

Vick attempted a pass with 2:09 left and was hurt on the play. Enter Nick Foles. He too threw a pass, and the clock stopped with 1:58 left. Now it was third and 10. It could have been first and 10 with 2:00 left had Kelly chosen. Instead, he went for it.

Another incomplete pass later, the field-goal unit. The game was tied with 1:51 left. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy didn't even have to use a timeout. One running play under the 2:00 mark would have solved that.

[Related: Michael Vick making himself an easy target]

Going for a touchdown isn't the problem here. It's the way Kelly went about it. There's fast and tempo-setting, and there's a suicide mission. The quarterbacks in this league are way too good to play the we-don't-care-who-has-the-ball-last game, even if the Eagles had gone up four points. Prior to that drive, Philip Rivers had completed 32-of-42 passes for 377 yards. He had diced them up all day and had been sacked once in 43 dropbacks.

Bad strategy. Coaching fail.

So in two games, Kelly has set the world on fire and then summarily doused it with carbon dioxide. He clearly is onto something, but he needs to know when to push and when you hold back. Football is a delicate balance of power, speed and finesse, and right now the Eagles lack just a little of the latter.

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