In the Eagles' 26-24 Week 1 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the team dug themselves a first-half hole so deep that not even Sam Bradford's 21-of-25 performance down the stretch was enough to pull them out. But in Sunday's meeting with the Cowboys, a game that was supposed to be Philadelphia's chance at redemption, there was only more digging.
Coming into the season with a backfield that featured three backs with Pro Bowl credentials and a head coach in Chip Kelly with a track record of exploiting opposing defenses using the ground game, most expected the Eagles' offense to revolve around that three-headed monster. But through two games, Philadelphia has rushed for just 70 yards on 33 carries, an average of 2.1 yards per touch.
Against his former team on Sunday, 2014 rushing king DeMarco Murray carried the ball 13 times but mustered just 2 yards. Quarterback Sam Bradford, with 9 yards on two carries, was the team's leading rusher in the 20-10 loss.
"Very disappointing, we couldn't get anything started," Kelly said of his team's performance in its home opener. "I don't think the running backs even had time to assess if there was a hole. Just too much penetration up front, and too many guys in the backfield.
"(Dallas didn't have) a very difficult scheme – four down linemen, three linebackers, and they didn't have extra guys in the box. We just could not block them."
The Eagles will now return to a blank drawing board for the second time in two weeks. Next up, a trip north to MetLife Stadium to take on a Jets team that is 1-0 and can make it 2-0 with a win in Indianapolis on Monday Night Football. And after mustering just 231 total yards of offense against the Cowboys, 65 of which came after the game was out of reach, Kelly said everything is on the table, including personnel changes.
"(I told our players) we've got to get it figured out, that we let a really good defensive effort go for naught because we didn't do what we needed to do offensively," he said of the message he relayed to the team in the locker room after the game. "We need to stick together as a group and figure this out.
"I think everybody on offense is going to figure it out."
Bradford threw for 336 yards against Atlanta, and the vast majority of that damage was done in the second half, but against Dallas he finished with 224 yards, also throwing two interceptions to bring his season tally to four. With the ground game sputtering, Kelly hoped to put the Cowboys on their heels with some big passing plays down field. But the pressure applied on Bradford by Dallas' front seven proved to be too much, and the Eagles weren't able to get anything going there either.
"On a day where you're not running the ball well, you need to be a lot cleaner in the passing game," he said. "We tried to take a couple shots downfield, but we also have to protect (the quarterback) so he can throw it downfield.
"It's execution, and it's coaching. We're not putting those guys in a position to make plays."
From his collegiate career at Oregon to his three seasons at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles, Chip Kelly has always been a coach whose offenses set the tone. And although he's had a great deal of success in that regard at the NFL level, leading the Eagles to top-five finishes in yards gained and points scored in each of the last two seasons, his coaching career hasn't been without some bumps in the road.
Kelly remembers a similar offensive cold spell, in Weeks 7 and 8 of his first season in Philadelphia, when his team dropped consecutive home games to the Giants and Cowboys by a combined score of 32-10 to bring the team's record to 3-5 on the year. In Week 9 that year, the Eagles traveled to Oakland and manhandled the Raiders, scoring a season-high 49 points in a 29-point victory that sparked a 7-1 run and helped Philadelphia earn a division title.
But the third-year head coach knows that such a turnaround won't happen on its own, just like it didn't in 2013. Kelly says that he, his players and his coaching staff need to look inside themselves, just as they did two years ago, and get to the bottom of the offensive woes.
"We've been there, and we understand that," he said. "(But) just because we went through it before doesn't mean we're going to get it straightened out ... We'll evaluate everything, (like) we evaluated everything then."
With the Cowboys leading the division at 2-0 and the Eagles off to their first 0-2 start since 2007, the team has no choice but to figure things out quickly.
The Eagles faced the Dallas Cowboys in their 2015 home opener at Lincoln Financial Field. View the full gallery here...