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December 07, 2015

'Coach Chip' overrules 'GM Chip' vs. Pats

Eagles NFL
120715DeMarcoMurray Rick Osentoski/AP

Casper the Ghost trips up DeMarco Murray for a loss of 17.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Chip Kelly has had a rough 2015. It started out well enough, when he was able to gain full control of the team, and construct the Eagles' roster as he saw fit, conducting a drastic overhaul of his player personnel.

But after a 4-7 start to the 2015 regular season, both "GM Chip" (Chip would say he's not the "GM," but let's be real here) and "Coach Chip" have come under heavy scrutiny. Neither have done a good job in 2015, but "GM Chip" was especially bad.

"GM Chip's" most high-profile moves have almost all gone wrong. The acquisitions of Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Miles Austin, Kiko Alonso, and Byron Maxwell have set the team back financially, and in some of those cases, in terms of what the Eagles gave up to get those players in trade compensation.

Perhaps the two most indefensible moves to this point were signing Murray in free agency to a 5-year, $40 million contract, and Austin to 1-year deal worth $2,225,000 with $1 million in guaranteed money when the rest of the league seemingly had no interest.

Murray has been downright bad, rushing for 569 yards on 163 carries, for a paltry 3.5 yards per carry. Here's how Murray's numbers compare with the other Eagles running backs:

 PlayerRush Yards YPC TD 
 DeMarco Murray163 569 3.5 
 Mathews/Sproles/Barner160 767 4.8 

Meanwhile, Austin has been a disaster. On 31 targets, Austin has caught just 13 passes for 224 yards and one touchdown. Several passes that have been thrown his way have been picked off, he's had issues with drops, and in some cases, he has been completely unaware that the quarterback was throwing to him.

Having triple responsibilities of coach, GM, and play caller, Kelly has been questioned on whether or not his role as GM could cloud his usage of players on the field. As in, would Kelly stick with underperforming players because they're "his acquisitions?"

For the first time, Kelly replaced Murray and Austin in the lineup against the Patriots on Sunday. Murray played just 23 percent of the team's offensive snaps (14 total), often sitting in favor of former practice squad player Kenjon Barner. Austin, meanwhile, was a healthy scratch.

When asked about Murray's usage, Kelly covered for him to some degree.

"[Murray's limited usage was because of] some of the matchups with the linebackers," said Kelly. "We felt like it’s as big a group of linebackers as you’re going to face. As the game expressed itself we were just trying to go with a hot hand, and we used all three [running backs]. DeMarco had a big run in the inside zone in the red zone there that drive – that 13-play drive – we had a big run on that. We just thought we were going to use all three today and we needed all three. When you’ve got [Jamie Collins] and [Rob Ninkovich] and guys, it's as big a linebacker crew as you’re going to face, so sometimes those smaller, quicker guys can cause some problems in the matchup."

While that's a logical reasoning, Murray wasn't even in the game on the two occasions in which the Eagles got inside the Pats' 10-yard line, where the field area shrinks and speed is less of an advantage for a running back.

As for Austin, Kelly offered no such excuses, saying that they decided to go instead with Jonathan Krause, a guy who was added to the Eagles practice squad during Week 3 this season, and only added to the 53-man roster two weeks ago.

"Krause is just a guy that has shown up in practice every single day and we felt like we wanted to give him an opportunity to play," explained Kelly. Translation -- "We finally admit Austin stinks."

While it took far too long, "Coach Chip" finally overruled "GM Chip."

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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