So Chip Kelly has been fired. Everyone wants to believe it was because of one event such as paying huge money to Maxwell and Murray, trading for Sam Bradford, losing the locker room, not being approachable etc. The truth is, Chip Kelly was fired because the Eagles were awful this year.
Of course everything else played a part in him being fired and I’m not doubting that. But if the Eagles were winning this year, all those problems would go away. If the Eagles had beat the Redskins this past week, Chip would probably still be here next year.
Chip the GM did not have a good year. Chip the coach had just as bad of a year. In fact, you could argue that Chip the coach had a worse year than Chip the GM. Chip the coach has got away lightly with most of the Eagles fan base and media because Chip the GM took a lot of the criticism.
I am as confused as any of you are about how this all played out. So let’s just stop and review this season. Let’s solely look at Chip the coach, just completely ignore Chip the GM. Imagine Chip inherited this roster and had nothing to do with it. Chip made a ton of mistakes and I’m hoping that if I go through some of the negatives from Chip the coach this season, I can start to understand why he was fired.
For what it’s worth, I don’t like or dislike the firing right now. I need to see who we hire before I can decide. There’s no bias here, these are just my honest thoughts about mistakes Chip made this year.
Let’s start with just how bad the Eagles were this year from a stats point of view. Remember that with the Eagles running a no-huddle system, you expect the offensive stats to be inflated and the defense to look bad.
The Eagles this season are currently 17th in points scored and 28th in points allowed. Not good. Let’s look at yards per play though and some other important stats too.
On offense the Eagles are 26th in yards per play with 5.2. Last year they were 11th with 5.6 and they weren’t good then either. That’s bad for an offensive team. Their 3rd down conversion rate this year is 37.16%, 21st in the league. Last years rate was 43.46%, 8th in the league. So far this year they have 5395 offensive yards, last year they had 6348. So totally ignoring Chip the GM, Chip the coach made the offense much worse than it was last year which is pretty crazy because the offense was bad last year.
On the defensive side, the Eagles are 20th, giving up 5.6 yards per play. Last year the Eagles were 16th, giving up 5.4 yards per play. So far the Eagles are 26th in third down conversion percentage, allowing 42.59% to be converted. Last year they were 12th, allowing 37.93% to be converted. They have given up 5924 yards this year so far, last year they gave up 6009. So guess what? The defense is playing worse than last year’s defense that was a train wreck from a numbers point of view.
So basically the team is worse if you strictly look at the numbers. But why was that? Here’s where I have problems with Chip the coach.
The offense was mundane all year. There was no imagination. It was boring and the Eagles struggled to score points. They spent high picks on Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff who excel at getting yards after the catch and then used them as deep threats. Why is that? Where were the screen passes or the plays that got them into space frequently?
I honestly think Nelson Agholor was used wrong pretty much all season by Chip. When he was drafted, a lot of draft analysts were high on him but saw him mainly as a slot receiver who could also be moved all around the formation and someone who excelled at shorter routes and then getting yac. The Eagles barely moved Agholor around the formation and rarely used him from the slot, he seemed to run far more deep routes than he did slants and crossing routes and I’ve never liked that.
At some points throughout the year I’ve really disliked Chip’s play calling too. I actually wrote about this a few weeks ago after I thought that Chip should have changed his game plan when he had Mark Sanchez at quarterback here.
There was a distinct lack of shot plays throughout the year too. The Eagles aren’t good enough to routinely march down the field and score, sometimes you need to have big plays. Some games the Eagles didn’t even attempt a deep throw, it was bizarre. I remember Greg Cosell saying this stat after the Bills game that I still find incredible – the Bills didn’t have a deep safety on 21 of Bradford’s 40 drop backs. That is unheard of and it shows how little opposing DC’s are afraid of the Eagles deep ball. Now the Eagles did complete a deep pass to Agholor that game but it still wasn’t enough.
The Eagles run game has also complete lacked any imagination. They have basically ran three plays all season – inside zone, outside zone and sweep. Earlier on in the season it became obvious what plays the Eagles were going to run simply based on where the Eagles running back would line up.
DeMarco Murray has taken a lot of criticism for the Eagles lack of a run game but the run blocking has been abysmal. Tobin and Barbre haven’t played well all year and neither has Jason Kelce. Although you can’t blame Chip for that, there is no doubt that it is very difficult to block an opposing player if they know what play you are running.
There is no doubt in my mind that week two against the Cowboys this year, the Cowboys defense knew what was coming. This left the Eagles offensive line with a really difficult task and they couldn’t handle it which led to Murray getting hit in the backfield all game. I remember @smartfootball making this point after that Cowboys game.
Now Chip did adjust and starting running more under center at times but the run game hasn’t really evolved at all throughout the year and it’s never been consistently good. The offense as a whole hasn’t really evolved throughout the years and DC’s have caught up to him this season to an extent.
DeMarco Murray is a great example of how Chip wasn’t putting players in their best position to succeed. People think Murray can’t run outside but that is false. Murray was a great outside zone runner last year. Running the sweep play is a totally different concept. Murray isn’t a great sweep runner, he can’t do it. How many times have you been screaming at the TV as Murray loses yards on a sweep play this year?
The Eagles still run most of their plays from the shotgun despite not using any read option anymore which I find strange. They barely use package plays anymore either. The great @ChipWagoneer done a great job discussing how Chip has failed to change his scheme as the season progressed a while back here. He also made a point on twitter similar to what I am discussing here.
Other problems come to mind when looking back at this season. Think of the Cardinals game just recently and that 4th and 1 play. The Eagles came out and the Cardinals realised what the Eagles were running and called a timeout to adjust. The Eagles then still kept the same play, formation and personnel and got stuffed. That is just unacceptable for a head coach.
On that exact same play, using Mathews and not Murray is almost just as ridiculous as not changing the play call. Murray was 16/16 on 3rd/4th and short whereas Mathews was 3/6 or something similar. If you watched Murray’s touchdown run this past week, you’d see how good he is on short yardage, it’s his specialty. Not using him there is just stupid, it really is.
Chip Kelly’s rotation of players annoyed me last year and it’s annoyed me at times this year too. Remember when Miles Austin was getting more snaps than Ertz, Huff and Agholor? Vinny Curry still hasn’t been used enough despite the fact Eagles can’t rush the passer. Last year Kelly continually rolled out Fletcher and Williams despite the fact they sucked. This year at times he’s played Kiko more than Kendricks which is just frankly stupid. Kiko has been so bad last year you’d have a hard time convincing me that Najee Goode would have performed worse.
There are also major problems with Chip Kelly’s philosophy. We still aren’t sure if the no-huddle on every play approach can actually work throughout a season. The Eagles defense clearly gets worse every year as the season goes on and you have to wonder just how much of this is because they are just absolutely shattered. Chip also failed to get the team up for so many big games this season which is a huge problem. I’ll probably think of more things that annoyed me over the next few days but I’ll leave it here for now.
So I think there are big football reasons as to why Chip got fired. Mainly, his scheme hasn’t really evolved the past couple of years. The run game became too predictable. He hasn’t put his players in the best position for them to succeed. In saying all of this, I do believe Chip can be successful. I’m a big fan of Chip the person and I really hope he has a successful coaching career if he looks at what went wrong here and adjusts.