Let me start this off by saying that I still think Chip Kelly is a phenomenal coach. Nothing that has happened this year has changed my mind.
I wrote an article back in July about why I supported all the moves Chip made and why people needed to let the process play out. Following their week 12 blow out loss against the Detroit Lions, the Eagles are now 4-7 and pretty much look like a dumpster fire. None of his prized free agent acquisitions are setting the world on fire. Sam Bradford at his best this season has been average, DeMarco Murray doesn’t fit this offense and and Byron Maxwell was never worth the money. Ryan Mathews is the better fit for this offense but in typical Ryan Mathews fashion he’s injured. Kiki Alonso got hurt early in the season and since he’s returned he looks like just another guy. Walter Thurmond has been the best offseason acquisition for the Eagles, but he’s not the one throwing the ball, running the ball or catching the ball so that doesn’t mean much in the big picture.
I jumped the gun on a lot of things. I’ve been getting a lot of “I told you so” from people and that’s fine I deserve it. But I’m still disagreeing with the reasons for the failures we’ve seen this year (keep up with me, I’ll explain everything):
As “bland” as Sam Bradford has been (and yes he’s been bland as hell, and that’s me being nice) it’s a couple things that need to be kept in mind. The first being that Bradford hadn’t played meaningful football in like 23 months heading into the season and that explains a lot of the rust we saw at the beginning of the season. Nick Foles had a ceiling…that was 2013. There really wasn’t a winner of this trade but in the case of the Eagles, at least they can say they didn’t bench their quarterback for performance reasons. Unfortunately for Bradford, he doesn’t have a down the field target and opposing defenses know that. They just play everything underneath for the most part because the passing game is predictable. And Jordan Matthews has struggled tremendously this year because he doesn’t have a Jeremy Maclin on the outside to stretch the field and open up the underneath routes. Kelly chose not to overpay for Maclin, something Kansas City did and Maclin sure as hell chased that money. He’s not setting the world on fire either and although it isn’t exactly his fault, everyone knew this would happen apparently. And stop bringing up Desean Jackson.
The run game is a mess. I’m blaming Chip for this completely because he refused to adapt his scheme to meet Murray’s strength’s. Many of us anticipated Murray to continue running north/south this season but that hasn’t been the case always and it explains a lot of Murray’s struggles. In my opinion the offense would flow a lot better Murray pounded the rock and Mathews/Sproles ran east/west. But that makes too much sense so it probably wouldn’t work.
Also I’m still not of the mindset that you need a running quarterback to orchestrate the offense, but sometimes Sam Bradford needs to pull the damn ball and run. Keep the defense honest. The offensive line has been one of the better run blocking teams this season they have just struggled mightily protecting the quarterback.
I was wrong about the 2015 Philadelphia Eagles because I expected everything to come together and happen week 1. When you bring in this many new players it takes more than a few months for things to gel. Personally I’m torn between what Chip should do. He absolutely should not be fired, that’s out of the question. But part of me wants him to stay in the league because I really want to see this process play out. If he has a chance at a better quarterback then he should go get one since Bradford won’t be around after the season. Yes college football is nothing like the NFL but Chip was out there scouting talent and seeing firsthand who was coming to play for him, he can see talent.
But Chip Kelly won’t last long in the NFL if he’s going to be arrogant. This year has been proof that you need players with talent to fit your scheme. You can’t just plug a square piece into a round hole.