I tuned in Monday night and Andy Reid was the Eagles coach again.
How else to explain that first-half game plan? At one point, they had executed five running plays – and 26 passes. It felt like one of those Big Red Era games where the offensive line gets off to a slow start and the coach scraps the run. It ended with reigning NFL rushing king DeMarco Murray not touching the ball for the last 10 minutes of a close contest.
Chip Kelly also seemed Reidian in opting for the field goal with the Eagles 4th-and-1 on Atlanta’s 26 with 2:32 to go. It’s easy to second-guess that call, because even a successful kick would give the ball back to Matt Ryan and Julio Jones down just two points.
More so, I was struck by the look of indecisiveness on Kelly’s face – again evocative of Reid struggling to think on his feet. It led to the field goal team rushing in late, which seemed to rattle kicker Cody Parkey.
Speaking of which . . .
I tuned in Monday and Alex Henery was my kicker.
Or Scott Norwood, if the words “wide right” mean anything to you. Hey, Cody Parkey was nearly perfect last season, setting an NFL rookie record with 150 points.
But he had a shaky pre-season, aggravated by a groin injury. And missing that 44-yarder Monday was inexcusable, even if he was rushed.
Parkey’s teammates fought hard Monday night for the chance to come back and beat Atlanta. When the guy with the cleanest uniform can’t hit a clutch field goal, it’s downright discouraging.
I tuned in Monday and Nnamdi Asomugha was my cornerback.
Nobody played worse against Atlanta than Byron Maxwell, the $63 million secondary savoir. Of course, no one had a tougher assignment. But not only did Maxwell get toasted by Jones all night, he also got beat by veteran Roddy White four times.
It’s notable that the Falcons new coach Dan Quinn was Maxwell’s defensive coordinator in Seattle. Quinn’s game plan seemed to be directed at going right at the man Kelly envisions as the Eagles lockdown corner.
Maxwell catches a break this Sunday, as the Cowboys come in without Dez Bryant. But down the road are Odell Beckham, Jr., Calvin Johnson, John Brown and Sammie Watkins. Maxwell needs to play like the elite corner he’s paid to be.
All that said, my advice is not to get overly worried. Good NFL teams often need September to find themselves. The Super Bowl champion (cheating) Patriots lost their opener to Miami last year, and 2014 NFC titlist Seattle started at 3-3.
I do believe Chip will figure this out. And I was encouraged by the second-half play of Sam Bradford – who began to find time and open receivers once Kelly reinstituted the run.
So, for now, let’s relax. If they lose to the Cowboys on Sunday, then we can go into full panic mode.