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Is Chip Kelly out of answers for 2014 Eagles? NFL Unfiltered Week 15

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For the first time in Chip Kelly’s NFL coaching career he had that look. The look of bewilderment and resignation a coach gets when he realizes he doesn’t have an answer. That he doesn’t have enough to compete the way he wants to. The look of a coach who knows he wasted nearly two professional seasons on average quarterback talent.  

Gone were the smiles, high-fives and youthful celebrations with his tailback, replaced by the “What the hell is going on out here?” face made famous by Packers’ Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi.  

If he didn’t know beforehand, the Dallas Cowboys rolled into Lincoln Financial Field Sunday night and showed Kelly how much work is left to do before his team is a legitimate championship contender.  Photo credit: USAToday.com

Think about it. The worst team under former coach Andy Reid to reach the NFC Championship Game might beat this current edition of the Eagles by four touchdowns. That’s not to say the Eagles are an abject failure, but it does beg the question: has Kelly and his squad underachieved or overachieved this season?

With only two weeks remaining, the Philadelphia Eagles sit at 9-5, good for second place in the NFC East. And while that is more than respectable by league standards, their only chance to go to Phoenix in February is if they buy a ticket.  

Many of Kelly’s sycophants and apologists ignored his first two drafts. We were comfortable with quarterback Nick Foles to the point of hoping he inked a contract extension, actually thought Mark Sanchez’s skill set could run Kelly’s offense better than Foles, considered DeSean Jackson a nuisance not worth the trouble, and believed defensive coordinator Billy Davis had the goods to make the Eagles a top-10 defense.  

However, if like me, you approached the season thinking Riley Cooper needed Jackson’s presence to remain effective, thought Lane Johnson and Bennie Logan were the only impact players of the fifteen Kelly’s drafted in two seasons, and believed they needed a significant upgrade at quarterback. The only fair conclusion is the Eagles met expectations.  

To my way of thinking, they had too many areas in need of a major overhaul. Combined with the fact Kelly’s genius disappears far too often against quality opponents, and the Eagles are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do: beat the dregs of the NFL and struggle against everyone else.  

Now, ugly, non-competitive losses to Seattle and Dallas trumps a big win on Thanksgiving. Yet, the Eagles will finish 11-5 and that is a good season by any measurement.  And who knows? Maybe they make the playoffs and earn the right to face a below-average New Orleans team on Wild-Card weekend.

But regardless of what happens this season, Kelly now knows he needs more. His expression Sunday night said so.  

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 15

-The fact tight end Zach Ertz doesn’t play as much because he isn’t a good blocker tells me two things: 1) He isn’t spending enough time in the weight room and 2) He isn’t interested in getting better.  

-Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green is a good dude. To know more than anyone how ineffective quarterback Andy Dalton is, and never criticize him, is as impressive as any of his one-handed catches.  

-As a fan of the sport, a playoff game always matters. But the NFC playoff landscape isn’t very attractive this season. Especially if the Dallas Cowboys fail to qualify.  

-The New England Patriots are 0-2 in their last two trips to the Super Bowl.  They’re the best team this year and ought to make it to Phoenix this February. If they fail, it’s fair to say cheating helped make Bill Belichick and Tom Brady NFL legends.  

-Speaking of Brady, let’s not go overboard on his work ethic. No question, he is a real pro and is as prepared as any athlete in the world. But the fact is, NFL rules changes designed to aid offenses and keep quarterbacks upright, are the primary reason he, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are playing on Sundays instead of watching.  

-It’s almost impossible when you think about it, but Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s performance this season makes you want to cheer for him in the playoffs.  

-By my count, 14 NFL teams need an upgrade at quarterback, which means about four months of overvaluing Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston- both of whom are likely to fizzle out in the pros.   

-If you know Peyton Manning has an ailing wing (and it’s clear the Broncos do) why bother to throw the football so much early in the season?  It seems more prudent to make running the football the focus in training camp in the hopes Manning has a little left in January.

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

 

Contact Earl at emyersiii@gmail.com  and follow him on Twitter @EMyersIII

 

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Photo credit: USAToday.com