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NFL Unfiltered Week 1: Is Chip Kelly missing the Eagles' big picture?

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Today, it is easy for the Delaware Valley to feel good about the state of the Philadelphia Eagles and their head coach, Chip Kelly.  

And why not? Kelly won the division championship in his first season and brought an exciting brand of football to the NFL.  

Year two looks like much of the same, as the Eagles already sit atop the standings in the dreadful NFC East. And based upon the awful play of their rivals, it is likely to stay that way.  

However, arrogance fells even the greatest of people, and Kelly’s belief in his talent evaluation, particularly defensive players, hurts the Eagles’ chances to win in January.  Photo: cbssports.com

We already know general manager Howie Roseman is essentially a “yes” man, whose strengths lie in data and logistics, but he is not a football man. He is a glorified bean counter. That is not meant to denigrate Roseman or bean counters. Each has value within a NFL organization.   

Nevertheless, Kelly is the clear leader.  The man chiefly responsible for the product on the field and so far, his knack for identifying and acquiring defensive talent is sorely lacking.  

If you doubt the last statement, consider the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.  

After the Browns chose quarterback Johnny Manziel with the pick they received from the Eagles, picks 23 through 31 saw eight defensive players selected. Of those eight, six (Darqueze Dennard, Jason Verrett, Deone Bucannon, Dominique Easley, Jimmie Ward and Bradley Roby) either started or contributed to their teams in week one. Kansas City Chief’s Dee Ford would have been the seventh had he not injured his knee early in training camp.  

The obvious outlier is the Eagles’ own Marcus Smith, a defensive lineman who dressed in week one, but did not play in a weak attempt to avoid more embarrassment.     

This raises a number of questions neither fans nor local media want answers to. Did Kelly, in all his wisdom and experience judging NFL talent, panic because the first round went differently than he planned?  Did he simply trust the Eagles’ scouts and player personnel department’s opinion of Smith, or, did he really see Smith as an early contributor and future difference maker?  

Regardless, Smith is the kind of egregious error that gets glossed over until a team misses the playoffs. In fact, Smith is well on his way to enshrinement into the Eagles 1st round ring of shame, right next to the infamous Jon Harris, but few seem to care.  

Of course, this is only a problem if you see the Eagles on the same level as the Seahawks and 49ers.  If you only see them as better than the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and the team in Washington D.C., they won’t disappoint you. But Kelly’s hubris and failure to see the big picture as the de facto GM, creates a ceiling.  

The kind that is largely ignored until January.  

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THINGS THE PUNDITS COULDN’T OR WOULDN’T SAY: Week 1

-Former running back Ray Rice’s behavior gives everyone with even the smallest racial predisposition another excuse to fear African-American men.  

-While the NFL deserves everything it gets for its handling of Rice, the media also merits harsh criticism. With all the insiders and their “unnamed sources,” why didn’t anyone ferret out the video or at least report on what actually happened in that elevator more fervently? The NFL opted for damage control instead of the right thing, as is typical of powerful entities. It is the media’s job to follow the truth wherever it leads, even it exposes a cover up by a business partner.   Ray Rice photo: taylorblitztimes.com

-There is a formula for beating the Seahawks and it isn’t complicated: Run the football, and more importantly, do it the entire game. Ignore the statistics, there is running room against Seattle’s defense, but teams must make a full commitment. The Packers didn’t.  

-During the telecast, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said the Seahawks improved their run defense last season after the Rams and Buccaneers each gained 200 yards rushing because of “tackling drills.”  Real hard-hitting analysis there, and also incorrect.  

-In a league where passing reigns but average quarterbacks litter the landscape, Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch is one of its 7 or 8 most irreplaceable players.  

-The Packers invested a 1st round pick in Eddie Lacy and he is a good running back, but they still see themselves as a shotgun, spread-the-field offense. However, it’s obvious they have less offensive talent than they did three or four years ago.  

-Add Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith to the long list of coaches who struggle managing the clock. Smith failed to call timeout and lost about 15 valuable seconds at the end of regulation.  Only kicker Matt Bryant’s clutch 52-yard field goal in overtime saved the Falcons from Smith’s ham-handed clock management. This was done even after 448 yards passing by quarterback Matt Ryan. Amazingly, Smith does this all the time. That tells me he trusts his kicker more than his franchise quarterback when the game is on the line.  

-Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s decision at the end of the first half is the kind of mistake a guy like the 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick cannot make. If he ever does, it becomes an indictment on his intelligence and feeds the narrative of why he cannot win a Super Bowl.  

-Kudos to Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin for his decision to try a fake punt from his own 20-yard line in the 4th quarter.  He ignored the percentages and instead adjusted to the flow of the game. That’s coaching.  

-Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton throws as pretty a swing pass as anyone in the league, but that’s not enough.   

-If Chicago Bears’ head coach Marc Trestman is the quarterback whisperer they say he is, Jay Cutler isn’t listening, because his game is the same.

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@hotmail.com

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Chip Kelly photo: USATodaysports.com

Ray Rice photo: taylorblitztimes.com