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More Offense Needed In Final 2015 Quarter

This isn't a micro concern for the Philadelphia Eagles. It isn't about how many carries this running back gets or how many receptions that receiver has. It's about total offensive productivity and, frankly, the Eagles haven't had enough of it in this 2015 season.

That's what head coach Chip Kelly expressed during his press conference prior to Wednesday's training session at the NovaCare Complex, one that centered on reports that running back DeMarco Murray went to Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie after the win in New England and expressed frustration over his inactivity in the game and, perhaps, the season.

Murray is the micro story, and with all due respect to him and to every other player who wants the football more - what players don't want more touches? - the macro story needs to be the focus. The Eagles rank 29th in the NFL in yards gained per play with 5.12. They are 20th in the NFL in red zone touchdown efficiency, 53.13 percent. There have been too many giveaways, 22. The team has averaged 23.2 points per game, 15th in the league.

"We're not exactly where we want to be offensively from any aspect," Kelly said. "I don't think anybody feels we're where we want to be offensively. I'm frustrated, alright? But when you look at that game, it was a unique football game. We scored 14 points in the third quarter with an interception return and a punt return, and we're not having success on the offensive side of the ball, so be it. I'm pretty jacked up about that because we just scored 14 points."

Kelly has the big picture in mind with the final quarter of the season ahead. He has his team in the mix in the NFC East with sights set on Buffalo and the aggressive, attacking defense that Rex Ryan brings to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. If the offense is functioning as Kelly and the Eagles want, there are plenty of touches to go around and plenty of points to be scored.

It's just that, through 12 games, the consistency hasn't been there, for whatever reason. Maybe it's because the offensive line has been unsettled. Maybe it's because quarterback Sam Bradford has more rust than anticipated in the first two months of the season and then missed two-plus games with a concussion and left shoulder injury. There have been too many dropped passes, too many penalties, too many missed opportunities.

What the Eagles want to do is get better in the weekends ahead, not lament points they left on the field in games behind them.

"I'm not satisfied, by any means. We've had ups and downs all year," tight end Zach Ertz said. "I think that's kind of been the frustrating thing. Some quarters, some drives, we'll have all the plays going, all the plays working and they (defenses) can't stop us. Then we'll have two three-and-outs (series) and we'll be like, 'What the heck is going on?'

"We feel like we're turning the corner. Sam is playing at a very high level right now, the running backs and the O-line is doing a great job, so in these last four games hopefully we'll give them the best the rest of the way."

Ertz pointed to penalties as the major reason the offense, particularly the running game, has not been where the Eagles want. "Penalties are killing us in the running game," he said. That has some merit. The Eagles have had 45 accepted penalties offensively, several of which have taken first downs off the board and many that have been the offensive "behind the chains" variety, as the saying goes in the NFL. In other words, the offense has too often had to dig out of first-and-15 (or longer) holes, and that's not an efficient way to do business.

"The penalties are something that we've talked about all year and that we're trying to clean up," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "Too many self-inflicted wounds."

This isn't what the Eagles thought they would face 12 games into the season, not with an offense that had a personnel overhaul when Bradford was acquired in a trade, when Murray and Ryan Mathews were signed to lead the running game, when Nelson Agholor was selected in the first round of April's draft. Murray is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, Mathews is just returning after missing three games with a concussion and Agholor has 16 receptions for 163 yards.

So, yeah, there is frustration.

And there is the expectation that the Eagles are, as Ertz says, "getting better and more confident" with Bradford on the field, with the offensive line gaining some consistency, with Mathews healthy and with the receiving corps having a more consistent rotation that should provide more reps for Agholor, second-year man Josh Huff and Jonathan Krause, who caught his first NFL pass against New England.

Kelly put it all in perspective on Monday when asked about Murray and the running back's role here and if the head coach felt the need to assure Murray of his role in the offense. It's not about the individual player at any position, Kelly said. It's about winning games.

"We are not trying to win a rushing championship or a passing championship or a receiving championship or anything from that stretch of the imagination," Kelly said. "We are just trying to win football games. And we're going to do whatever it is. There are going to be some games where we throw the ball a lot and our receivers do a great job of catching the ball and we're up in the 50s and 60s throwing the ball and they have to make a lot of catches. And there are going to be other games where we only have 14 receptions and that's what it is.

"At the end of the day you're judged on did you win or did you lose? And that's what we're all graded upon."

And right now the Eagles are 5-7, tied for the division lead, preparing for a huge game against Buffalo on Sunday. What's happened in the past is done, filed, graded and over. What happens next is what matters most. The Eagles need the offense to score more points and play more efficiently, no matter who is running the football, throwing it or catching it.

"We want to play our best football in the next four games," wide receiver Jordan Matthews said. "That's the only thing that matters."

There isn't any drama here, no matter how much the media or the fans want to create it. There is frustration, yes, a collective feeling from an offense that knows it more to give starting Sunday against a very good Buffalo defense coming to town.

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