We waited nine months for this. Through Chip Kelly’s New Year’s power grab and too many winter storms. Through another Sixers tank fest and another cruddy Flyers season and that weird March afternoon when you said, “Wait, they traded Nick Foles for what?”
Our anticipation grew, through a hyperactive free agency that rubbed a little too close to 2011’s “Dream Team.” Through a draft that, alas, didn’t land Mariota. Through an endless Phillies slog where the biggest feat was avoiding 100 losses.
By the pre-season, we believed this team – Chip’s creation – was the antidote to our blues. Super Bowl? Maybe. The odds makers and national experts (Joe Banner?) told us so. Hey, after all the bleak seasons our other franchises rolled out (there hasn’t been a post-season advance since – amazingly – the Sixers beat Chicago in 2012), we’d settle for a nice, deep playoff run.
Forget that. My heart can tell you the NFC East, a cast of 98-pound weaklings, is still there to be won. My brain says Sunday’s calamity against Washington buried the season.
Nail. Meet coffin.
Typically, the Eagles don’t crush our hearts until we’ve broken out the snow shovels. This year? We haven’t even begun raking leaves.
I don’t have space to detail all of the team’s woes. Kelly keeps repeating the problem is “execution,” but that’s just a catch-all word to avoid explanation. As a coach, he’s got to answer why the first halves have been so putrid. On Sunday, it was zero points and four first downs.
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Don’t coaches spend the whole week plotting the first 15 offensive plays? That being the case, how is it possible that after four games, the combined first-quarter results are: 49 plays, 157 yards, nine punts and a total of three points?
I bought into the notion of Big Balls Chip, the offensive genius. Three years in, it seems the innovation consisted entirely of a frenetic pace. Once opposing defensive coordinators caught on, Kelly’s offense is running in place and his notebook appears empty of a Plan B.
As a GM, Kelly may have created bigger problems. I can’t swear Foles was that so-called “Super Bowl quarterback” (by the way, Foles threw three TDs to beat Arizona Sunday), but I’d still take him over Sam Bradford. Not to mention the second-rounder the Eagles gave away.
The GM’s willful neglect of his offensive line is what may really cost. Bradford can’t throw and mediocre receivers can’t get open without time. DeMarco Murray can’t gain yards without holes to run through. If Jason Peters is as spent as he appears, the lack of line depth will not be overcome with the yo-yoing of Julian Vandervelde off and on the roster.
Now, understandably, Murray is doubting his role. It’s tough to hold a losing team together. It’s tougher when those guys haven’t lived and worked together for a few seasons. What you fear next is an unraveling, with players pointing fingers.
And we sure didn’t wait all year for that.