In 2013, Chip Kelly’s first year, the Eagles started 1-3. They finished 10-6 and made the playoffs.
But two years ago, it was growing pains. This year, at 1-3 again, it seems to be a little more complicated.
The Eagles offense has been extremely inconsistentand shortcomings have forced the defense to stay on the field — sometimes –for two-thirds of the game.
With the Saints coming to town experiencing similar issues (terribleoffensive line play and sub-par wide receiver play) the Eagles have a good opportunity to right the ship and get to 2-3.
But a loss could all but derail their season.
Here are three things the Eagles must do in order to win at home Sunday at 1 p.m.:
Find a way to run
Yes, the offensive line has been putrid, riddled with injuries and unable to run protect.
But battered tackles Lane Johnson and Jason Peters — both expected to play and both nursing injuries — will need to fight through it alongside two unproven guards andpro bowl center Jason Kelce.
The Eagles running attack (if you can even call it that) is averaging a league-worst in yards per carry and total yards gained. But with three weeks of action under his belt (he missed the Jets game) DeMarco Murray will need to find a way to be productive Sunday.
Ryan Mathews proved it can be done with this offensive line in Week 3 against New York. And according to Kelly, there isn’t much of a difference between the Eagles two high-profile running backs.
“I think they’re both tough, hard-nosed, physical guys that are going to make one decision on their cut and stick their foot in the ground and go,” the coach said.”I think that’s why I say they are similar. I think they’re a lot more similar than they are different, to be honest with you.”
RELATED LINK: Is Chip Kelly’s play-calling hurting the Eagles?
Keep Drew Brees, Saints running backs in check
For the second week in a row the Eagles will face an offense that has multiple potent running backs. And with the Saints’ youthful receiving corps playing less-than-stellar for future hall of famerDrew Brees, it’s been Khiry Robinson, C.J. Spiller and Mark Ingram who have been carrying the load for New Orleans.
“They have Ingram, he does a good job with screens,” former Saint and current Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said,”Robinson can catch screens as well, Spiller is their speed demon he has elite speed and they try to get him out of the backfield a lot. You’ve got to pay attention to the backfield and the plays they run with certain guys and try and match up accordingly.”
After the Saints traded Darren Sproles to the Eagles for a fifth rounder, the team realized how important the speed back was, replacing him with Spiller. It’s a matchup that the Eagles will be focusing on defensively.
“I think the addition ofC.J. Spiller has really helped them,” Kelly said.”He had an 80-yard touchdown in overtime against [Dallas]on a wheel-route where they caught them in a match-up where a linebacker was on him and the linebacker couldn’t run with him. I’ve always admired the way C.J. played because he is one of those tough match-ups. He’s got a lot ofSproles’ characteristics to him; he can be a returner.”
Trust Sam Bradford
Last week in Washington, Sam Bradford finally emerged as the confident, accurate thrower the Eagles had hoped he would be as a long-term replacement for Nick Foles.
The quarterback threw several bombs, three touchdown passes and was able to get in concert with receivers who had been non-factors up until the Redskins game like Miles Austin and Riley Cooper.
Was Week 4 a fluke? Or is this the real Sam Bradford? His performance against New Orleans will answer that question.