This season will be a test to see how many different ways can we say the Eagles aren’t good enough. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Once again, the Eagles offense struggled. For the 3rd week in a row, the Eagles went scoreless for an entire half. The Eagles offensive line still can’t create running lanes. Receivers still drop passes. Sam Bradford still looks lost and incapable more often than not. All in all, the Eagles are bad, really, really bad.
The most frustrating part about the Eagles is they show flashes of what the offense could be. The 2nd half against the Falcons proved the Eagles could get up and down the field. The 3rd quarter against Washington demonstrated that Bradford could be accurate beyond 7 yards. However, flashes of competence don’t win football games. Consistency does.
Ah, consistency. Through three games it looked as if, after nearly half a decade of inept defense, the Eagles had finally developed a stable, reliable defense. While I still believe this to be the case, Philadelphia’s defense badly underachieved Sunday. The pass rush was completely MIA. The secondary found itself trailing 3rd and 4th string receivers. Outside of a forced fumble, the defense didn’t have a single significant play. With the inconsistency of the offense, the Eagles need big plays from their defense to win games right now. Sunday they provided none, and it wasn’t entirely their fault.
Despite nearly three years on the job, Chip Kelly still doesn’t value time of possession enough. When the Redskins took over with 6:05 remaining in the 4th quarter, the Eagle defense had already been on the field twice as long as the offense. Playing defense is more exhausting than offense. You can’t point the finger at the defense for falling apart on that final drive after you’ve hung them out to dry all game long. The Redskins finished the game with over 41 minutes of possession. The Eagles had the ball for less than 19. I don’t care what kind of offense you’re running, that ratio is a losing formula.
This is where the ground game needs to be fixed. Right now, the Eagles can’t produce 1st downs on the ground. They can’t even produce manageable 3rd downs. When you can move the ball on the ground you can run clock and rest your defense. When you can’t run the football it’s also a struggle to pass protect, which was perfectly demonstrated Sunday. Let’s repeat this again; Kelly must fix the ground game if the Eagles have any shot of making this anything but a lost season.
DeMarcco Murray is right, too. He should get more touches. He’s the best player on the offense. At this point, Kelly should default to 20 carries a game for Murray. Maybe doing so would be equivalent to pounding your head against a brick wall, or maybe doing so would be equivalent to hammering a rock 500 times. Then on the 501st blow the rock breaks. It’s not the 501st blow that broke the rock but the 500 before it. (Thank you, Gregg Popovich.) Also, where was Darren Sproles yesterday? Like Murray, Sproles must have touches. He’s too explosive to be ignored.
Despite the offense’s overall ineptitude, I thought Kelly and the offense did some nice things Sunday. Getting aggressive with the deep ball in the 3rd quarter was a welcomed surprise. In the present day NFL, you’re a fool if you’re not chucking the ball deep at least three times a game. Flags are too abundant for the deep ball to be ignored, even if you lack talent. Though the Eagles appeared to use the deep ball to expose the injured Chris Culliver, it should be used with greater regularity regardless of opponent.
Listen, the Eagles stink. There’s no way around that fact. However, I’m still not convinced they stink enough for me to throw the season away. Wait, the Eagles do stink enough. What I meant to say is the division stinks enough that it’s too early to throw the season away. In all likelihood, the Eagles are a Cody Parkey injury from 2-2. If the ground game can find some traction, the other pieces of what has been a disastrously disappointing offense will fall into place. Or I’m blinded by homer optimism. Both are probably true.