Chip Kelly renewed his quest Friday to take the focus off Michael Vick's play in a 26-16 loss to the visiting Kansas City Chiefs.
Vick threw two huge interceptions, one for a pick-six that put the Birds in an early 10-0 hole Thursday night. He finished 13 for 30 for 201 yards. His passer rating was 49.4. His completion percentage of 43.3 was the lowest by an Eagles' quarterback since Mike McMahon in 2005 vs. Arizona. McMahon is the generally accepted low-water mark of modern Eagles quarterbacking.
As he did in 2011 and 2012, Vick tried to throw passes through the hands of onrushing linemen, instead of seeking out clean passing lanes. The linemen's attempts to bat away his passes were aided by the way Vick stared down receivers before releasing the ball. Vick easily could have thrown four interceptions; one was ruled a trapped ball on replay and another was negated by a Kansas City penalty.
Afterward, Vick said he took full responsibility for the loss, that on the pick-six, particularly, he knew he had a better option on the other side but second-guessed himself and ended up forcing the interception.
Friday, with the 1-2 Eagles dispersed until Tuesday, when they begin preparations for their Sept. 29 appearance as massive underdogs in Denver, Kelly was in damage-control mode. He has picked Vick as his 2013 quarterback, and he is going to have to make the most of it. It's hard to make the case that, missing Jeremy Maclin, this group would flourish under Nick Foles or Matt Barkley, anyway.
"I thought Mike played OK. He has played better," Kelly said. "It's always a combination. It's a team game, and it's not always on one guy. Got a couple balls tipped. Got to get some guys' hands down ... we've got to be able to get to the top of our drop and not give up so many pressures. And there are times when the ball has to get out a little quicker. But I thought Mike played OK. He really kept things alive with his feet, gave us a dimension from that standpoint."
The 3-0 Chiefs came in with nine sacks in two games and added five more. They were helped by an Eagles gameplan that eschewed short, quick passes for slower-developing downfield throws. Kelly said that was dictated by the Chiefs' man coverage, which makes the short stuff tougher but ought to open things up downfield. Except, with the Chiefs getting consistent pressure and Vick misfiring, it didn't. The strategy might have helped open up room for Vick's runs, but in the NFL, you rarely win because of your QB's dominant running.
Asked about Vick forcing his second interception, in which Sean Smith cut inside Riley Cooper on an underthrown ball, Kelly said: "I don't think he was forcing it into that situation. I think he threw the ball on the back shoulder. More of a location situation. If he puts the ball out in front of him, I think we've got a good throw ... everything is close in this league. His location on that particular play wasn't where it should have been.."
Asked about Vick setting his feet, Kelly said: "Did he miss some throws? Yeah. In the opening game (a win at Washington) he missed a couple throws, too. But I mean, he's still right now playing at a pretty good level ... we espect them to be perfect on every play, put the ball in the proper location, make the proper read. Sometimes that doesn't happen. We have to continue to coach him. He understands it. Let's go over it and review it. Have there been some throws he's missed? Yeah."
Kelly, 46-7 at Oregon in his only previous head coaching job, has never been 1-2 before. Thursday night, corner Cary Williams said Kelly talked to the team about staying together, not getting discouraged, sticking with the program.
"You can draw on the positives — what did you do well? And then look at the correctable mistakes that occurred in the game, and then address it," Kelly said Friday. "That's what I talked about in ther locker room after the game —the people that are going to fix this right now were in the locker room last night. It's our coaching staff and our players."
Kelly said there were no serious injuries from the game. Safety Patrick Chung, who left with a shoulder injury, should be able to practice Tuesday, Kelly said.