September 20, 2015
Beautiful day for football in South Philly, and the Eagles came out just as flat as they did on Monday night in Atlanta. To say the least, Chip Kelly’s Sam Bradford experiment is off to a terrible start. The Birds managed 21 yards in the first half against a Cowboys defense missing a bunch of starters, which is beyond pathetic.
The second half wasn’t much better, as the Eagles submitted one of the most anemic offensive performances you will honestly ever see. They fell to their bitter rivals, 20-10. We’re going to eschew “The Bad” section this week, because everything that was bad was ugly. Here’s what I saw:
• In the third quarter, Jordan Hicks forced a fumble that Fletcher Cox fell on. The play didn’t change the game for the Eagles, but it definitely had a major impact on the NFC East race this season: Tony Romo fractured his left clavicle. Tough break for Dallas.
• A week after missing a critical kick late in the game, Cody Parkey drilled a 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
• DeMarco Murray didn’t have a chance on the ground, but he was playing with a ton of emotion. When he finally got some space to run, Murray’s emotion drew a crazy unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey on Dallas’ sidelines after a first-down reception.
• Big play by Byron Maxwell to force a fumble by Dallas tight end Gavin Escobar that Malcolm Jenkins scooped up. The Eagles defense had a few issues, but they battled admirably and held Dallas to 20 points.
• DeMeco Ryans started the game playing a lot of snaps, and it’s not apparent why. The veteran has a lot of trouble making plays in space. So far, only Mychal Kendricks has stood out from the heralded middle linebacking corps.
• Speaking of Kendricks, he left the game with a hamstring injury after chasing Lance Dunbar down the field. Kiko Alonso also left the game with a knee injury, which is very concerning considering his injury history. Ryans and rookie Jordan Hicks were forced into action.
• The Eagles aren’t running the football at all and their offense submitted an inexcusable performance because of it. On the broadcast, Troy Aikman said this was the worst offensive performance he has ever seen. Hard to argue with that. So far, Kelly refusing to address the offensive line has caught up to him in a big way.
• How bad were the Birds? They ran the ball 17 times for 7 yards. Gross.
• One thing that is very noticeable is the lack of downfield passing attempts by Sam Bradford. Everything is generally dink and dunk, which doesn’t help the running game at all.
• A major free agent signing, Maxwell has been a liability in coverage so far. He allowed a 42-yard touchdown reception to Terrence Williams in the fourth quarter.
• The Eagles are surprisingly getting beat on special teams to start the season. On what appeared like a simple stunt, Dallas blocked a Donnie Jones punt and ran it back for a touchdown in the third quarter. Jones took an absolutely brutal blindside hit on the return.
• Terrible decision by Bradford in the red zone ended the Eagles’ only promising drive. On a play where Riley Cooper got open in the end zone, Bradford forced a throw to Zach Ertz that Sean Lee easily intercepted.
• Overall, Bradford was as bad as you could reasonably imagine. He missed receivers, fumbled a snap, and didn’t make any big throws. He didn’t receive a ton of help from his teammates, but Bradford definitely missed some plays. He finished 23-37 for 224 yards with a touchdown pass and two interceptions.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann