THE PROBLEM with being the smartest guy in the room is, when you're wrong, the room gets mighty lonely.
It's hard to dispute Chip Kelly's football intelligence. In fact, intelligence is defined as the capacity to learn. It's impossible to argue that Kelly can't learn.
As the new general manager, Kelly must recognize his current personnel is inferior, especially with so many frontline players injured.
He doesn't believe that the play-calling has been good enough, that it all comes down to this uninspiring assemblage of players making plays.
He must understand the principles of attrition.
When he talks about midgame scores ensuring wins, he can't be totally sincere. Certainly, he has heard of the butterfly effect, the theory that small changes within events will affect things in the future.
You wonder when Kelly says, "There's plays to be made there. We're just not making the plays."
Which means, generally, that the plays he has called should work.
You know, like the ridiculous, fumbled pitch on the reverse that snuffed the Birds' first decent drive Sunday at Washington - a gimmick play that, had rookie receiver Nelson Agholor not fumbled, still would have resulted in a huge loss.
Kelly says "guys that we know are good football players" aren't making plays.
Usually, good players are defined as good players because they make plays.
Obstinately, Kelly refuses to change his sputtering offense's ferocious tempo, even in the face of weekly proof that his overworked defense is tired. At some point, Kelly will have to acknowledge football is a game of attrition.
In 2014, the offense ranked in the top 10 in every significant category except time of possession (and turnovers). Only the Browns had their defense on the field for more total plays.
The Eagles lost three times in four games and fell out of the playoff race a week before the season finished. They have lost three times in four games to start this season. They are ranked last in time of possession.
"I don't think that's a burden on our defense," Kelly said.
Early last season, cornerback Cary Williams complained that the defense was tired. After the Dallas game this season, Byron Maxwell, Williams' big-money replacement, said the same.
Sunday, the Eagles' defense was asked to stop Washington's last drive. It failed.
Afterward, when asked whether the defense was too tired to play well, Fletcher Cox, its best player, replied:
"We lost the game."
That wasn't the question, Fletch.
"We lost the game."
OK, big guy. Next question.
Certainly, time of possession does not guarantee wins; the Eagles have lost games having dominated time of possession. But time of possession accrues, beats down players over a season in which one play here or there can turn a game.
Kelly has suddenly grown fond of reminiscing about those turns. Kelly insists that, if his team had scored a certain number of points in the middle of a game, the rest of the game would have not been altered.
"We had a touchdown called back because we lined up wrong," Kelly said. "That's the difference in the football game. Missed a field goal, missed an extra point. That's the difference in the football game."
This view would be valid only if those plays were the last plays of the game. Otherwise, the butterfly effect applies.
Cody Parkey missed a 44-yard field goal at Atlanta, which would have given the Eagles a one-point lead with 2 minutes, 26 seconds to play. The Falcons, predictably, then called three running plays in an effort to milk the clock.
Certainly, they would not have called those plays had they trailed.
Also, "Matty Ice" Ryan, the Falcons' 30-year-old quarterback, already has engineered 30 game-winning drives, a record pace. So, no, a made field goal did not ensure an Eagles win.
Similarly, when the Eagles had a touchdown called back because of an alignment penalty, 90 seconds remained in the first half. Caleb Sturgis then missed his 33-yard field goal, but that was just before halftime. He missed his extra point slightly more than 3 minutes into the second half.
Lots of time left. Yes, scoring those points would have given the Eagles a better chance to win, but it is absurd to assume that, had the Eagles scored those points, the rest of the game would have unfolded exactly as it did. That butterfly fluttering its wings in China might not cause a hurricane in the Bahamas, but it's a pretty safe bet that Washington would have played the game differently.
After all, when it absolutely had to, Washington's offense drove the ball down the throat of an exhausted Eagles defense over the final 6 minutes. That stretch ran drove the Eagles' defensive workload to more than 41 minutes - the third time this season the defense has played at least 35 minutes, all losses.
But, according to Chippah, those two facts do not correlate.
Especially since, had they scored a couple of more times, the Eagles invariably would have won.
Come on. Chip's too smart to believe that.
On Twitter: @inkstainedretch