The Eagles stink right now, but that has more to do with Chip Kelly than Doug Pederson. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
The Eagles are no good. That much is painfully clear. There isn’t a single thing they’re doing well other than losing. I know there’s been a growing number of fans that want Doug Pederson fired after only one season. While Doug has certainly contributed to the Eagles collapse, it’s unfair to place the Eagles’ 5-7 record squarely at his feet. The most significant reasons the Eagles are losing can be traced directly to the Wizard himself, Chip Kelly.
Think about it this way, the Eagles field a team with only one of their last four 1st round picks on the field. Lane Johnson has been suspended most of the season. Marcus Smith might as well be sitting in the stands. Nelson Agholor has done just as much to hurt the offense than help it. Those are Kelly’s three 1st round picks during his Eagles tenure. Whiffing on one top pick will haunt a franchise. Missing on two of three is crippling. In fact, of the 21 picks during the Chip era (11 in the top four rounds), only five are positive contributors (Johnson, Zach Ertz, Bennie Logan, Jordan Matthews, Jordan Hicks).
Remember, Chip also shipped the team’s two best offensive players out of town. DeSean Jackson was exiled for not being a choirboy. LeSean McCoy netted the Eagles an undersized linebacker who was bad in coverage. McCoy is currently 6th in the NFL in rushing and tops in yards per carry. DeSean Jackson would be the best receiver on the Eagles if one arm were tied behind his back. Chip Kelly got rid of elite talent and replaced them with garbage.
This isn’t news to anyone. If you recall, the coverage surrounding the Eagles over the summer and throughout training camp detailed how this team was operating with a talent shortage. The Eagles were supposed to finish somewhere between 5-7 wins. What the Eagles are today is EXACTLY what we thought they’d be five months ago. Their greatest mistake was overachieving early and underachieving late instead of vice versa.
The domination of the Steelers was one of the rare “curse instead of a blessing” victories. Instead of approaching the rest of the season rationally, we were all blinded with hopes about the postseason and Carson Wentz being rookie of the year. The 3-0 Eagles were the beautiful woman we knew would break our heart, but the feeling of being a good team again was too much to resist, so we fell head over heels. Now the true colors come out and everything is miserable.
I’m not absolving Pederson and the Eagles of their 2-7 record over their last nine games. Talent or not, they’re better than that. They’ve blown at least three of those games and have continually gotten worse over the last month. THAT is on Doug Pederson.
While I’m not on board with firing Pederson after one season, Sunday’s performance in Cincinnati was enough to at least get me to consider such a drastic move. The Bengals are terrible. It’s never a good sign when the team no-shows like that under a first year coach. Thankfully, news out of the locker room since Sunday has been unconditionally in support of Pederson, but too many players put out a lousy effort last week. Fair or not, that falls on the coach. (Good block, Zach…)
In my opinion, the season fell apart in the 4th quarter againt Dallas. The 4-2 Eagles had the 5-1 Cowboys on the ropes, at home no less. With a 10 point lead with 13 minutes to go in the final quarter, Wendell Smallwood fumbled. Dallas kicked a field goal to cut the lead to seven. Carson Wentz and the Eagles responded, driving all the way to the Dallas 32. On 1st down a bad snap scuttled whatever play Pederson called. On 3rd down the snap was again bad and a screen to Sproles lost six yards. 1st and 10 at the 32 became 4th and 14 from the 36. With 7 minutes to go, Pederson passed on a 54 yard field goal and punted. Instead of taking a shot at a 10 point lead with a kicker that already nailed two 55 yarders in the game (only one counted), Pederson folded his hand.
The Eagles never recovered in the game, and really, never got back control of their season. Don’t forget, the Eagles dominated that game until the final seven minutes and then overtime. Ezekiel Elliott finished regulation with only 78 rushing yards, his lowest output since Week 1. What should have been a win and a spot atop the NFC East quickly eroded into the Eagles careening to a 1-5 dive off a cliff.
The season is now completely lost and there’s nothing the Eagles can do to erase what happened the last three weeks. However, their remaining schedule is against teams in playoff contention, including three division rivals at home. Pederson needs to rally his team and finish 2-2 or the few who are groaning for his job will quickly escalate to a raucous mob.