Looks like the Eagles are who we thought they were. Well, at least who we assumed they were before that season opener against the Redskins. The optimism and fervor following Chip Kelly’s NFL coaching debut, not to mention the nationwide salivating, will probably ratchet down a few notches now that the Eagles have dropped two straight to a pair of teams that last year combined for nine wins. It’s not just losing; it’s how they’ve lost twice in four-day span, the latest being Thursday night’s turnover-plagued 26-16 defeat at the Linc to an Andy Reid-coached Kansas City squad that stayed unbeaten in the former coach’s return.
Four days after a defensive implosion against the Chargers conjured images of last year’s 4-12 team, the Eagles managed to recur a few more 2012 nightmares by coughing up the ball five times and having their quarterback sacked five times. “It’s a tough situation. We just came out empty-handed,” said wide receiver DeSean Jackson, using an appropriate choice of words. He was held under 100 receiving yards for the first time and did most of his 62-yard damage on one bomb. “We put ourselves behind the eight ball to start.“
Kelly’s high-octane offense, which had lit up the scoreboard for at least 30 points in each of its first two games, abruptly hit the skids against Kansas City. Although the Eagles churned out another 400-plus yards of total offense, they managed only two touchdowns and couldn’t keep the Chiefs off Mike Vick’s back. Under constant pressure from an offensive line that couldn’t protect him, Vick threw two interceptions after entering the game with none and was sacked five times. Jason Kelce botched two snaps, one of which bounced off his own rear end.
Tight ends are are supposed to reap benefits of Kelly’s spread formations, but Brent Celek has two catches for 18 yards total in both losses and James Casey is nowhere to be found. Rookie right tackle Lane Johnson has, at times, played like a rookie. Kelly, who had one of his gimmicky two-point conversions that he brought over from Oregon backfire in an embarrassing manner, blamed the most recent loss on execution. After the game, he sensed the collective letdown in the locker room.
“I think they’re disappointed and rightly so,” he said “I think as a group we didn’t do what we were supposed to do. We didn’t execute. When that happens, you don’t get a real good feeling and taste in your mouth. I thought our fans were outstanding. I thought the energy level that they had here was unbelievable, and we didn’t give them the performance that mirrored what they brought to the game.”
Well, they’re kind of used to that. The Eagles have now dropped their eighth straight home game going back to last year, the NFL’s longest active home dry spell and tied for the longest in franchise history, going back to the 1936 and ’37 seasons. At least last year, by November, fans could sense the imminent crumbling of the 14-year Reid empire and harbor optimistic thoughts about the franchise’s change in direction.
This year, there will be intrigue about the makeup of Kelly’s inaugural team and how some of the new faces brought in to change the losing culture will respond to this recent bout with adversity, especially after such a promising win over the Redskins in the season opener. “I don’t think anybody has jumped ship yet,” Kelce said. “We all know that all the mistakes, for the most part, are correctable. And that’s just frustrating because we felt like if we would have taken care of business on offense we would have won last week [against San Diego]. This week, the defense plays pretty darn well, for the most part, and offensively it’s just mistakes after mistakes. I felt like everything was going wrong on offense for us.”
McCoy, the lone bright spot in an otherwise unsightly offensive display, insisted that the Eagles haven’t already lost their mojo since trampling the Redskins for the better part of three quarters, even though the Eagles have since been outscored 79-46. They’ll know for sure soon enough, with Peyton Manning and the Broncos on tap next Sunday in Denver, followed by Eli Manning and the Giants the following Sunday. “I don’t want to forget about that game,” McCoy said of the 33-27 road win over the Redskins in the season’s first Monday night national showcase. “We’re still that dominant offense. We’re still that dominant team. It’s just a matter of us going back to the basics, heading back to the drawing board and after each game getting better and better.”
- Geoff Mosher, CSN Philly