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September 21, 2015

Breakfast with the Birds: This mess is Chip’s

Eagles NFL

Let’s start with the good news: The Eagles’ season isn’t over. They can absolutely rebound from this 0-2 start, especially when the NFC East’s best quarterback will be on the shelf for an extended period of time. There is still time to right the ship.

And that is pretty much all I have as far as positivity goes. In three of four halves on the young season, the offense hasn’t even performed at the level of a bottom-tier unit. They have been worse than that. Mark Sanchez must be on the sidelines thinking about how his darkest days with the New York Jets were a piece of cake compared to what he’s currently watching.

The receivers can’t get open, the quarterback can’t take care of the ball or throw deep, and the running backs can’t get out of the backfield because the line can’t block anyone. Besides those things, everything else is great. And as Mike Sielski writes for the Inquirer, there is one guy who needs to be held accountable:

The injuries to Alonso and Kendricks are one thing. They're sheer misfortune - yes, even Alonso's. But the lack of preparedness, the Keystone Cops-style moments, the theory that perhaps a coach ought to put his team through a more rigorous training camp - these are something else, and they are Kelly's burden now. They are his problems to fix. He created the conditions. He is responsible for the results.

The Eagles have lost five of their last six regular-season games, and this trend can no longer be dismissed as just a slump, a difficult but predictable adjustment to change. This debacle, all of it, is on Chip Kelly, and starting now, we'll find out whether he's something more than a great salesman.

The running game is historically bad right now. Especially worrisome is that the coach doesn’t seem to have an answer except consistently throwing. On a 3rd and 1 early in the game, Kelly elected to throw deep. When the Eagles got down by the goal line, Kelly decided to pass multiple times and Sam Bradford threw a terrible pick. 

This failure also falls on Kelly. He didn’t address the offensive line in the draft or free agency this offseason after cutting his two guards (who admittedly haven’t played well elsewhere). He was the one who decided Andrew Gardner and Allen Barbre formed an acceptable guard pairing. He is the person who has to figure this mess out.

As bad as the guards were yesterday, it was a group effort. Jason Kelce took a lot of the blame (via Paul Domowitch):

It would be easy to lay all the blame on the two new guards, Barbre and Gardner. But the truth is, everybody up front has struggled in these first two games.

"Right now, I'm not playing well," Kelce said. "It doesn't matter who's next to me if I'm not getting my job done. So I don't think (the two new guards) have much to do with the reason we're struggling. We're just not getting it done collectively."

In the offseason, Kelly won the power struggle with Howie Roseman and got full personnel control. With that control, he made sweeping changes to the roster. And now Kelly has to figure out how to solve what has been an unmitigated disaster through two games.

In case you missed it at PhillyVoice

1. Ten Awards: I liked the way Jimmy phrased the 'Not You Too!' Award for the special teams.

2. Observations: Award-winning insight from yours truly, without the award-winning part.

3. Romo injury: Jordan Hicks didn't make a dirty play, and as bad as it is to think, he honestly might have saved the Eagles’ season with that hit yesterday. Romo missing extended time is obviously a huge deal.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann