Patrick Causey, on Twitter @pcausey3
The Eagles hit rock bottom today with one of the worst losses in recent memory. In a critical game that could have put the Eagles in first place of the NFC East, the Eagles didn’t just play poorly, they didn’t even show up.
This game, this performance, this team was an indictment on the Chip Kelly rebuild process that saw him overhaul a roster that went 10-6 in consecutive seasons. Kelly spent the entire offseason getting “his guys” that bought into “his culture,” — and this was the result. 4-6 and unable to take advantage of repeated opportunities to grab the weakened NFC East by the throat.
While I have not bought into the “Fire Chip Kelly” mantra — yet — it is becoming harder to ignore as the bad losses start to pile up. The Eagles loss to the Dolphins seemed like the low point of the Chip Kelly era; up 16-3 on a team that was begging to be put out of their misery, but the Eagles could only muster three points the rest of the way and lost a game they undoubtedly should have won.
But this loss to the Bucs made the Dolphins game look like a walk through the park. Pick any adjective you can think of — pathetic, embarrassing, unprofessional — and it still doesn’t seem strong enough to explain how poorly the Eagles played.
If these losses don’t shaken your resolve in Chip Kelly, then you have the patience of Job.
And while you don’t need me to remind you of how ugly this loss was, here are seven numbers to put this loss in perspective:
I understand why Chip Kelly focuses on number of plays run to an extent. But a dogma like adherence to that philosophy can be a fools errand, and today’s game was a prime example of why.
Both the Eagles and Bucs ran 72 plays today. So from that perspective, everything was just peachy. But the Bucs had the ball for almost 36 minutes (35:54) compared to 24:06 for the Eagles. And while the defense played terrible today, the time of possession disparity had to play a factor.
Consider the following drives in order, with time of possession in parenthesis:
- Eagles: 5 plays, 14 yards, punt (1:53)
- Bucs: 5 plays, 75 yards, touchdown (2:55): 7-7
- Eagles: 3 plays, 4 yards, punt (:46)
- Bucs: 5 plays, 59 yards, touchdown (2:09) 14-7
- Eagles: 3 plays, 3 yards, punt (1:11)
- Bucs: 3 plays, 0 yards punt (2:06)
- Eagles: 3 plays, 6 yards, punt (1:30)
- Bucs: 4 plays, 85 yards, touchdown (2:03) 21-7
According to Chip, this sequence was okay: the Eagles ran 14 plays to the Bucs 17. But from a time of possession perspective, the Bucs more than doubled the Eagles: 9:13 to 4:20.
The impact on the Eagles defense was as painful as it was obvious. Yet Chip Kelly did nothing. He did not call a timeout to give his defenders a breather. He did not ask his offense to slow it down despite multiple three and outs. He stuck to his guns, insisting his way was the right way, and it provided the Bucs the opportunity to put the game away before it started.
Mark Sanchez’s interception rate in five and a half quarters of play. He’s thrown four interceptions on just 64 pass attempts. Obviously, that number is not sustainable and some regression to the mean should be expected. But for a quarterback being given every opportunity to win the starting job, Mark Sanchez has really dropped the ball (or given it away, is probably more appropriate).
The number of touchdowns the Eagles gave up to rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. That ties the NFL record for most touchdown passes thrown by a rookie, and was equal to half of the touchdowns Winston had thrown all year prior to today.
The total yards the Eagles allowed today, the fifth most they’ve ever allowed at home. 283 of those yards were allowed on the ground, where Doug Martin absolutely eviscerated the Eagles once vaunted run defense, running 27 times for 235 yards.
The Eagles record over the last 14 games, which is why it is wrong to lay all of the blame for this season on Chip Kelly the general manager. These issues started last year — the chemistry problems, the mistakes, the three and outs — but they became an afterthought after this crazy offseason. Despite overhauling the roster, the results are largely still the same, and arguably even worse. Chip Kelly better figure out a way to fix these issues, or his tenure as the head coach and head of player personnel could be over sooner rather than later.
The number of times Eagles players (in this instance, Malcolm Jenkins and Connor Barwin) dropped interceptions. On the very next play, the Bucs scored touchdowns. We always hear that football is a game of inches, and these plays certainly lend credence to that theory.
That was the Bucs third down conversion rate. The Bucs also went 1-1 converting fourth downs. It was comically bad at times, with the Eagles giving up multiple third and longs. I’ll be interested to see Eric Rowe’s snap count for today’s game. We heard a lot about him getting more reps today, but I did not see him much. And that was despite E.J. Biggers getting beaten — repeatedly — on multiple third and longs.
Speaking of bad secondary play, Nolan Carroll gave up three touchdown passes today. On two of those passes, Carroll gave large receivers — Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson — free releases at the line of scrimmage. It was a curious decision for a team that likes to play press man coverage. Again, Eric Rowe cannot get in the field for this guy? And to think, the Eagles traded multiple picks to move up and get Rowe.
A final word on the state of the quarterback play. It is abundantly clear that the Eagles do not have the long term solution at the quarterback position on their roster. That doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out.
And anyone using this game to pound their chest about Sam Bradford would be sadly mistaken. As Brent pointed out during the game:
Add to it Bradford’s significant injury history, and do you honestly feel comfortable committing the $15-18 million per over the next 3-4 years that it would take to sign him? I know I wouldn’t.
(And before you say that is an insane valuation, remember that Jay Cutler signed a seven year $126 million contract ($18 mil/year), and Colin Kaepernick signed a six year $114 million contract ($19 mil/year)).
I don’t want to short shrift this analysis; I plan on getting a post up later this week that puts into proper context what we need to obtain to make the quarterback position work. But the easy conclusion here is the Eagles have a huge hole at the most important position in football, with no easy solutions in sight.