Pointed advice for the Eagles' offense
WITH ANDY REID, even with Buddy Ryan, it was easier. In the first year of both of their rebuilding jobs, the future quarterback was already in the building. You did not focus on the win-loss record, not exclusively, because there was a living, breathing, signal-calling embodiment of the future who was throwing passes every Sunday. Progress tracked less on the scoreboard and more on the promise of Donovan McNabb and Randall Cunningham.
Chip Kelly has no such luxury. As a result, even as the Eagles have a 1-3 record and have endured a three-game losing streak, he says we are left with the scoreboard to measure the progress of his program.
"Honestly, I don't think you should be looking at anything else," Kelly said yesterday, before practice. "That's what we all get graded on at the end of the day is wins and losses. I think we, as a group, understand our plan and the process of how you win and how you lose and what contributes to that and that's what this deal is all about."
Wins, losses, period. The answer was correct - both literally correct and politically correct. It is what the fans want to hear. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis treads a dangerous path when he insists that his group is getting better, even if the results don't show it. It is not something people want to hear, and especially from the principals.
With one-quarter of the regular-season over, how many wins do you think the 1-3 Eagles will get?
|Less than five.|
|10 or more.|
|Total votes = 8850|
Kelly seemed to sense that immediately as the question was being asked.
"At the end of the day, if you're not winning enough games, you're not going to be here very long and if you are winning games, you're going to be around," he said. "But at the end of the day, it's not, 'Hey, look at this, let's look at that.' The bottom line is, as coach [Bill] Parcells said a long time ago - I'm not the one that came up with it, and he did, but he's extremely right - 'You are what your record says you are.' So we need to go change that . . . "
If Kelly cannot say, "Hey, look at this, let's look at that," an outsider can. So, here goes:
The defense simply looks under-talented. The offense, though, is averaging north of 450 yards a game. In the whole entire history of the NFL, only 10 teams have gained more than 1,800 yards in the first four games of the season, and the Eagles are one of them. But the Eagles have scored the fewest points of the 10, and have the worst record of the 10. Almost all of the others were either 4-0 or 3-1.
The offense has red-zone problems, as it has for several years - but Kelly's system is interesting, exciting and quite functional. The functionality - yes, measured in yards - is obvious and real. But in the end, as a despondent Brent Celek said in the locker room after the Denver loss on Sunday, "In this league, it's all about the points, not the yards."
Drops, penalties and iffy kicking the last few weeks have cost points. At the same time, as we try to figure out Kelly, we have seen less wow than in the opener at Washington. Maybe he is saving some of this stuff for the division games, but it might not be a bad idea to show a little more leg this week against the Giants; "show a little more leg" being a football term.
But you know what it means - more wide-receiver screens, and more multiple tight-end formations, and more inventive ways to get the ball to DeSean Jackson. It is the stuff we saw during the summer, at least in flashes. Maybe that is what they need.
Whatever: The schedule the next 2 months is friendlier than the first month. Now is the time for the offense to carry this group - not to a division title, and not to fulfill any great expectations, but to win a few games and calm everything down and begin the work of convincing people that there is a future.
On Twitter: @theidlerich