“c0″>You can’t win them all. Sooner or later the Eagles comeback magic would have to run out. Week 4 marked the end of that magic as the Eagles were defeated by the San Francisco 49ers in their first trip to the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara California. The Eagles came into the game as the underdog and all week long when friends asked me about my thoughts on the game I replied almost to everyone that it wasn’t a good spot for the Eagles to be in. The Niners came into the game riding a 2 game losing streak and clearly were the more desperate of the two teams. Because of that desperation and the fact the game was an away game I just didn’t like the spot the Eagles were put in.
“c0″>Once the game got going though my opinion changed dramatically. The defense came out and looked solid along with the special teams. The blocked punt which was recovered for a touchdown immediately led me to believe the Eagles were going to win this game. The only issue is the offense didn’t show up to play like the other two units. Chip Kelly gets all the credit in the world for being a creative, offensive genius. He’s someone who has been described as a risk taker, an offensive guru, and many other positive phrases, but at the end of the game it was clear his play calling along with the players that had the responsibility of executing those plays weren’t able to be successful against a stout 49ers defense.
“c0″>If the Eagles came out and looked flat on special teams and defense I wouldn’t have had an issue with this loss because it would have clearly indicated to me that the 49ers are the better team. But the fact is this is one of those games that could have been won. A few months from now, when the playoff scenarios play out, we might look back on this game with disgust even more than right now. When you look at the big picture though the Eagles are 3-1 and this is an opponent I originally circled as a loss when the schedule came out. But the way the team has played to start the season the 3-1 record is really lucky. The Eagles could easily be 0-4 if it weren’t for Darren Sproles and some lucky bounces.
“c0″>The next two games will be huge for the Eagles as they play at home against the Rams then the Giants on Sunday night before the bye week. I feel confident the Eagles will win these two games but I also felt confident when I drafted LeSean McCoy as my first pick in my fantasy league back in August and clearly that hasn’t quite worked out yet. This Eagles team clearly has flaws that need to be recognized and fixed in order to succeed going forward.
“c0″>The biggest, glaring flaw I see right now is the inability to run the ball. For the second straight week the 2013 NFL rushing champ had nowhere to run. Against the Redskins he ran for 19 yards on 22 carries which was brutal. Then he came out and ran for 10 yards on 17 carries which is downright pathetic. I know the offensive line is banged up right now and we’re missing 3 starters, but the last two performances by McCoy are inexcusable for a running back of his caliber. McCoy almost looks afraid to get hit. Instead of busting through the line he’s busy dancing around in the backfield trying to run from sideline to sideline as opposed to downfield. After the Eagles game I put on the Cowboys/Saints game and what I saw during that was Cowboys running back Demarco Murray running with authority. The difference between Murray and McCoy is night and day. Murray ran with toughness and an edge. It almost appeared as if he was playing so angry to the point he wanted to run over someone any time he touched the ball. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the Cowboys more than any other team but my point is that McCoy needs to take a page out of Murray’s book and start playing with some toughness and anger. I don’t think the Cowboys have a much better Oline than the Eagles and Murray is a solid back but he doesn’t possess the speed of McCoy. It’s time for McCoy to stop handing out 20 cent tips around the city and play with some anger and run over a few defenders instead of dancing around in the backfield. Not every great running back has the greatest offensive line to work with so McCoy needs to forget about the injuries up front and just go out and play with an attitude because right now I don’t see it and haven’t seen it for a while.
“c0″>Another glaring issue I see coming out of this game is a combination of Nick Foles and Chip Kelly. Foles clearly had a pitiful game against the Niners. Foles completed only 21 or 43 passes which was his lowest completion percentage since last year’s Dallas debacle. He passed for 195 yards which was his third lowest total since Chip Kelly became coach. On top of that he threw two interceptions in a game for the first time since his rookie season. Again, I realize the offensive line is banged up and Foles has been feeling the pressure in almost every game this season but Foles needs to do his part to get the ball out quicker or throw it away.
“c0″>The second part of this issue though is Chip Kelly and his play calling. He’s not doing Foles any favors by calling such an unbalanced game on the offensive side of the ball. I understand how Kelly has lost all confidence in the offensive line but for a coach that’s highly regarded as a creative genius I think the play calling the entire game was bland and predictable for the Niners defense. This offense has way too much talent on it to look so boring and be so predictable. One way to get the running game going is to maybe utilize the eye formation once in a while. The Eagles don’t actively have a full back on the roster but they could easily throw James Casey, the third string tight end, in the full back spot this way McCoy has a lead blocker. Every run play the Eagles call is out of the shotgun or a single set back which leaves McCoy with little assistance behind a banged up O-line. Another easy way to get the running game going is to maybe throw Sproles and McCoy into the backfield at the same time. I mean once in a while it wouldn’t hurt to do that this way defenses have to pick their poison in deciding which back to defend. I haven’t seen McCoy and Sproles in the backfield together once all season yet.
“c0″>When the Eagles had the ball at the 1.5 yard line on third down Kelly chose to throw the ball twice. This was a display of awful playcalling. The third down play absolutely had to be a run play. McCoy had just come off a nice 5 yard run which was his longest of the day so at that point I would have continued to give him the ball to punch it in. The Eagles also needed to run the clock down at that point so running the ball on third down would have at least ran some clock if they didn’t score so they could hopefully score on the next play. Instead Chip Kelly called a pass play and followed that up with another pass play on 4th down Kelly didn’t help Foles or the offense with those atrocious play calls. It’s inexcusable for a team to not try to run the ball in from the 1.5 yard line especially when you have two legit running backs in Darren Sproles and LeSean McCoy.
“c0″>Bottom line the Eagles lost a game they could have won. When we look back on this game at the end of the season it may or may not have an impact on the playoff scenario but if it does we’ll remember the ineffective running of LeSean McCoy, the awful play of Nick Foles, and the atrocious play calling by Chip Kelly. At the end of the day though the Eagles are 3-1 and tied for first with Dallas. Sometimes in sports a loss like this will kick a team into high gear and they’ll learn from it. Hopefully that’s the case this time around as the Eagles look to bounce back next week at home against the Rams.