Chip Kelly declared at his press conference on Monday that his offense has not been figured out. The team simply isn't executing well right now. I'm sure a few of you rolled your eyes and said, "Whatever, Chip."
I agree with him completely on this subject.
I re-watched part of the game with my 5-year old nephew, Jason. He was curious about why I watch a game and then re-watch it over and over. I showed him a third-down play from the second half.
"He didn't want that guy to hit him."
Those words came from my nephew. They were exactly right. Jackson saw a defender coming downhill. Rather than running toward him, Jackson tried to run around him. That killed his chance to get the first down. Jackson needed to sell out to move the chains. He didn't.
I have no problem with a player doing something like that on first or second down. I have no problem with a player doing something like that early in a game. Situational awareness is critical. Jackson was in the second half of a division game with his team losing. He needed to play with a sense of desperation. He needed to sell out to get that first down.
The design of the play worked perfectly. The execution was outstanding right up to that point where Jackson leveled off and went parallel to the line instead of going forward. If you just look at the box score, you see a failed third-down conversion. It is easy to think that must be Kelly's fault for not having called a better play. If you saw the game, you know that was all about execution.
Jackson was one of many culprits. There were problems all around. Kelly has some fault for sure. But most of his plays had a chance to work. Go re-watch the game and you'll see where 10 guys did the right thing on a given play. It is just that one guy who makes a mistake and it ruins the play.
I re-watched part of the Broncos and Washington games after the Eagles loss. The Broncos execute really well on offense. There was a screen pass in the second half that went for a 35-yard touchdown. The right play was called, but it was the execution that really impressed me. There was good initial blocking. Then you saw linemen down the field making sure to get a piece of a defender. They didn't need great blocks, but just enough to keep the running back clean. Peyton Manning executed his part of the play perfectly. The runner caught the ball cleanly and then turned upfield quickly. He had room to run, but also followed his blocks well and then maneuvered through traffic. Everything was done well and they got a touchdown.
I couldn't help but think of all the Eagles plays where I'm left saying, "If only the runner/receiver had gone there. If only the lineman had blocked that guy. If only ..." The Broncos don't have some magical playbook that the rest of the world can't understand. They run plays that we've seen for years. If you know the Colts offense from the Tony Dungy era well, you'll recognize a lot of what the Broncos do. The key is that they execute it so well that you can't stop it. How often did Joe Montana hit Jerry Rice on a slant pass? How many times did John Stockton and Karl Malone run the pick and roll? Greatness comes from execution, not tricking people with the perfect play.
Kelly is right on another point. The Eagles need some stability at quarterback. Last week, it was
You could see right away that Vick wasn't himself. He just didn't look right. Kelly left him on the field to see if Vick could shake off the rust and get into some kind of groove, but that didn't happen.
Barkley came into the game in the first half. He led the team right down the field and I got fired up. Maybe Barkley was the spark that the offense needed. I went from high to low very quickly when Barkley was strip-sacked and the Giants recovered the fumble deep in their territory. The Eagles were down 12-0 at that point. Even a field goal would have felt good. Such a promising drive ended so poorly.
Barkley showed some good things on that drive, but on the disastrous play he looked every bit the rookie. Kelly explained that it was a simple play the team practices all the time. Jackson is the receiver to look for and
I do think there were positives to take away from Barkley's performance. On his first play, there was a bad snap. He didn't panic. He reached down, got the ball and looked up quickly. Barkley saw
One issue that I noticed is that Barkley's footwork can get sloppy when he's pressured. That led to some off-target throws. Quarterbacks must be able to throw from a variety of platforms. They can't count on a clean pocket. You want the quarterback to use proper mechanics most of the time, but there will be occasions when he needs to be able to make good throws while off-balance or leaning in one direction or twisting to avoid rushers. This is something for Barkley to work on.
Aside from the fumble, there was only one play from Barkley that upset me. He dropped back on a third-and-5 play.
We can't really make an accurate judgment of Barkley until we see him start and play a full game. Barkley needs practice reps during the week so that he can be completely ready to go. He'll have better chemistry with his receivers. Barkley should play better with the right preparation. In his limited action so far, Barkley has shown promise, but has yet to lead the offense to any points. He also must quit turning the ball over so much. In his defense, he entered games down 12-0 and 17-3. That's not exactly favorable circumstances.
There weren't a whole lot of offensive highlights in a game where the offense failed to score.
Offensive sloppiness was all over the place.
Cooper ran backward after catching a pass in the third quarter. He almost had the first down initially, but gave away a couple of yards.
While the offense was a mess, the defense had a good day. They limited the Giants to 325 yards and five field goals. You should win a game when the defense holds the opponent to 15 points. This wasn't a case of one player having a great day. The Eagles played good team defense.
The guys up front set the tone for the game.
The line was stout against the run. Giants runners combined to have 29 carries for 89 yards. That is just 3 yards per carry. The long run of the day was just 9 yards.
Special teams played well enough to win.
Sunday was a very frustrating loss. You hate to see the offense struggle so badly, especially against a rival and in a home game. The Eagles need to solve the quarterback situation and get the offense ready to go. Two straight bad weeks is enough. This has to stop. The defense is now playing well enough to win games. The offense needs to get back on track. The Eagles are 3-5, which is disappointing, but they are only a game out of the division lead. What a strange season.