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Month: November 2015

Why I have a problem with Chip Kelly’s play-calling

Why I have a problem with Chip Kelly’s play-calling

Discussing play-calling as a fan is a really tricky thing to do. I hate criticising play-calling because normally you just judge the play by its result. If the Seahawks pass was complete for a TD in the Super Bowl, no one would have questioned the call. It would have still been a stupid play-call though even if it was complete in my opinion.

So when discussing Chip’s play-calling I’m going to try and not just say: good play = good call and bad play = bad call. In fact I’m not interested in looking at what particular play Chip called, I’m focusing on simply whether it was a pass or run.

Watching the game back this morning I became frustrated with some of Chip’s calls. Below I will go through each of the Eagles drives in the first 3 quarters of the Bucs game and see if anything stands out.

One reason why I have a problem with Chip’s play-calling is I do not understand what we are doing with Murray. We didn’t pay him a ton of money because he’s a very talented back, we signed him because he’s a workhorse back and he can take a lot of carries.

So you’d think, considering Mark Sanchez is at QB and we have terrible receivers, Chip would try and pound the ball with his big money running back and mix in Sproles and Barner. Here’s what happened:

1st drive – Touchdown. Such a nice drive and a good mix of passing plays and runs. The Eagles had 5 passing plays and 5 running plays, no complaints here.

2nd drive – Punt. Murray starts the drive with a 2 yard run followed by a 16 yard run. The next play was another run but this time with Barner who picked up 5 yards. The next two plays – incomplete pass, incomplete pass.

So after Murray picked up 18 yards on the first 2 plays, he doesn’t get another carry? Another thing, with the Eagles 2nd down play, they went to a 5WR set. Surely after 2 good runs in a row, you’d use play-action if you’re going to throw it?

3rd drive – 3 & out. Murray 4 yard run, incomplete pass, incomplete pass. I think Chip needs to remember that Sanchez is his quarterback.

4th drive – 3 & out. Pass for 1 yard, Sproles runs for 2 yards then incomplete pass. No carries for Murray despite him looking good early on. How is the guy supposed to get into a rhythm?

5th drive – 3 & out. Pass for -1 yards, Murray 0 yard gain, incomplete pass. Murray finally gets a carry!

6th drive – Touchdown. Murray runs for 4 yards, then runs for 5 yards, then for 10 yards. Then Barner runs for 4 yards, Sproles runs for 3 yards. On 3rd and short, screen pass to Sproles that goes for a long touchdown.

Wow, running with Murray 3 times in a row actually worked?! We ran 5 plays in a row too. Why were we not doing this more? We were running the ball pretty well all game but Chip just wasn’t pounding it despite having Sanchez as his QB. Murray’s first carry for 4 yards was hardly spectacular but we kept pounding it still.

7th drive – Doesn’t really count as it was the end of the half. Moving on.

8th drive – Punt. Murray runs for 1 yard, pass for -1, pass for 18 yards on third down to Cooper. Sproles runs for 7 yards, pass for 6 yards. Sproles for 0 yards on a run, incomplete pass, incomplete pass.

I’ll stop looking at the drives now as the 4th quarter doesn’t really count, the game was over by that point.

It’s quite obvious that if we run the ball on first down and it isn’t successful, Chip doesn’t stick with it. I’d like to see him stick to the running game and commit to it. Especially when the receivers aren’t good and Sanchez is at QB. You will always have bad running plays, not everyone will go for 5+ yards.

So let’s break it all down. Here’s how the first 7 drives (not including the 7th as it was near half time) went:

On two drives the Eagles ran the ball more than they passed. On those two drives, they scored 1 touchdown and punted once.

On 1 drive the Eagles ran as many times as they passed, that drive resulted in a touchdown.

On the other 4 drives, the Eagles threw the ball more times than they ran. The result? 4 punts. Anyone else seeing a trend?

I really hope Chip sticks to the running game Thursday. If it isn’t working and you keep trying it but it still doesn’t work then you’ll have to change. I really think the Eagles should have ran the ball more against the Bucs.

Chip Kelly deserves blame for Eagles wide receiver problems

Chip Kelly deserves blame for Eagles wide receiver problems

The Eagles wide receivers are not good. They drop too many balls and can’t consistently get open against man coverage. There’s no injuries at the position currently and the Eagles have spent a 1st, 2nd & 3rd round pick on the position over the last couple of years. They should be better.

So why are they bad and does Chip Kelly deserve any blame for this?

Two quick notes. Chip doesn’t deserve blame for signing Riley Cooper, he was awesome in 2013 and had a great connection with Nick Foles. That wasn’t a bad signing at the time. He deserves a LOT of blame for signing a bag of trash Miles Austin and continuing to give him snaps. It’s inexcusable right now.

So anyway, let’s look at the receivers the Eagles have drafted under Chip. He didn’t have full control when Matthews and Huff were picked but he reportedly wanted Matthews in the first and was a huge fan of Huff who he coached at Oregon. Nelson Agholor was definitely a Chip pick as he had control of the roster by then.

So when looking at NFL.com’s draft profile for these three players, something really stands out to me. Lets look at Huff’s perceived pre-draft weaknesses first:

‘Was not pressed at Oregon. Lacks elite explosion and top speed to pull away vertically. Limited route tree. Could stand to refine his route running. Lets some throws into his body and tends to trap some. Not a go-up-and-get-it guy (average leaping ability)’

Now let’s look at Jordan Matthews:

‘Adequate line release. Fairly linear. Not a quick-twitch athlete. Does not show elite explosion to separate vertically. Lets some throws into his body and is not immune to concentration drops’

Finally, let’s look at Agholor:

‘Play strength is below average. Had issues shaking Oregon State CB Steven Nelson. Will get stuck in low gear from time to time by long, press corners with strength. Lean frame. Worked well from bunch formations and might rely on pre-snap movement to free himself, depending on matchup’

Now does anything stand out to you? Look at their ability to get off press. Both Huff and Agholor had issues against it and Matthews was described as adequate.

The Eagles receivers haven’t been able to beat press man coverage all season. Coincidence? Austin and Cooper obviously struggle to beat man coverage too because they aren’t very good. The box score doesn’t show it but Agholor has definitely been the most consistent receiver at beating man coverage. I think the pre-draft report on him is unfair based on what I watched of him but still it shows he had issues against press coverage in college.

So what does that tell you? I think you can assume that Chip believes he can scheme receivers open against press man coverage. Well he can’t right now, receivers aren’t getting open. Chip deserves blame for taking receivers that struggle against press coverage. Here’s just a few (I could show loads) of examples of Eagles receivers failing to get open against man coverage.

Bradford isn’t an aggressive thrower either and Chip should know this. He rarely just throws it up for grabs when a receiver has 1 on 1 coverage. That means you need receivers who can separate. Bradford clearly doesn’t trust a big target like Riley Cooper to go up and get the ball as Cooper hasn’t been targeted once since the Giants game.

Finally, both Huff and Matthews weaknesses include problems catching the ball. Hey guess what? They’ve both had problems catching the ball this season. Huff had major problems catching last year.

Obviously this doesn’t mean Chip doesn’t value receivers who catch the ball well. But I don’t know, maybe he believes it’s a correctable problem and is more willing to take a chance on people with this problem than other GM’s? I have no idea. I’m just guessing like everyone else.

When looking at Jeremy Maclin’s pre-draft strengths for example, you see this:

‘Natural pass catcher. Good body control to contort in space and make the spectacular reception. High-points passes and is an explosive leaper’

None of the Eagles receivers were described as a ‘natural pass catchers’ in their pre-draft reports. I think Chip deserves some blame for the performance of the Eagles wide receivers this year. More importantly though, he needs to look at what he values in a wide receiver and do some self scouting because right now what he’s doing, isn’t working.

Despite my complaining. I wouldn’t give up on the group yet. I still believe Agholor can be very good. Matthews is an above average receiver and Huff could develop into a decent player, albeit none of them look like becoming legit number 1 receivers anytime soon.

The Eagles are 4-5, but the season isn’t over.

The Eagles are 4-5, but the season isn’t over.

 

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The Philadelphia Eagles are 4-5. They just lost to the Miami Dolphins. Life sucks.

I’m here to tell you this season isn’t over. Despite being 4-5, and looking like a below average football team at times, the Philadelphia Eagles’ season is far from over.

Let’s start with the bad:

Inconsistency is the Eagles biggest issue. When one thing goes right, another thing goes wrong. The most frustrating part about it all, is as soon as the Eagles look like they’re going to take that step of playing good, sound, disciplined football, something, whether it be a drop, a penalty, a bad play-call, SOMETHING bad happens.

Offensively, the offensive line has flashed at times. It held its own against Dallas’ front, and for the entire first quarter against the Dolphins. Then the next three quarters, it was absolutely obliterated by Miami’s defensive front.

The Eagles offense is entirely based on tempo and rhythm. When the Eagles get that first first-down, things start rolling, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. But when there are as many boneheaded mistakes like penalties, drops, missed assignments, or Jason Kelce snapping the ball over Sam Bradford’s head, the rhythm of the entire offense deteriorates.

Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. *Pulls hair out*

Defensively, as good as the Eagles have been, they can still be much better. The biggest thing is they’re becoming too predictable. Playing press man and relying on your front-4 to get to the quarterback can be successful, but at the end of the day, you MUST mixup coverages.

Professional quarterbacks and coaching staffs will adjust and find ways to beat you if you run the same coverage too often. Billy Davis needs to mix in more zone concepts and blitz packages, or teams will continue to run rub-concepts to beat man coverage.

Overall, the defense has played really well. Giving up just 20 points per game, which is 10th best in the entire league is solid.

So, Why isn’t the season over?

The Philadelphia Eagles have seven games left in the season, and are one game out of first place. And to the “It doesn’t matter if the Eagles make the playoffs, they’re terrible” people: SHUT UP.

Flashback to 2008: After week 12, the Eagles were standing at 5-5-1. They went on to win 4 out of their last 5 games, squeaked into the playoffs with momentum, and made it to the NFC championship game.

How about in 2011: After week 13, the New York Giants were 6-6. They won 3 of their last 4, got into the playoffs with momentum, and went on to win the Super Bowl.

The National Football League is a week-to-week league. Hell, it’s a quarter-to-quarter league if you think about it. After the first quarter of the Miami game, Eagles’ fans were on top of the world. After quarter 3, we were ready to rip our hair out.

The point is things change quickly in this league. The mistakes the Eagles are making are correctable. That’s the biggest thing. The holding calls, the drops, the missed assignments, are all mental mistakes.Yes, that’s been the theme of the entire season. But the growth of Sam Bradford, the defense playing sound football, and the chemistry being formed as the season goes on is encouraging.

A few things need to happen for the Eagles to get into the playoffs and make a run.

  • Mark Sanchez must win these next two games against the Tamba Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions, and Sam Bradford must get healthy to face New England after that.
  • The offensive line needs to find its groove. Jason Peters returning will help with that.
  • Nelson Agholor staying healthy and keeping Miles Austin and/or Riley Cooper on the sideline is good, not bad for the Eagles.

Being 4-5 doesn’t feel good. But despite the record, the Eagles are a game out of first place. Play your best football down the stretch, string some wins together, and gain some momentum, and a deep playoff run isn’t out of the question.