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NFL Unfiltered Week 4: Eagles can't contend with NFL's best


A popular theme in the aftermath of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 26-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, is it’s just one of 16 games on the schedule.  Therefore, it’s not a big deal.  

That is a fair point considering even the best teams lose a game or three.  

However, to dismiss Sunday’s loss as simply the ebb and flow of a season ignores the more salient issue. And that is the fact Chip Kelly’s squad puts on clinics against the NFL’s mediocre, but the league’s better defenses give his team fits.

Of course, good defenses pose problems for most offenses, but the narrative surrounding Kelly is one of innovation and genius, so it is reasonable to question his level of both when his offense cannot muster a single score.    Photo: www.timesunion.com

Suddenly, plays that embarrassed the Jacksonville Jaguars and baffled both the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins, failed miserably against a good, but not great group of 49ers defenders.  At times, it looked like they had a copy of the Eagles’ playbook, and this isn’t the first time.   

In my view, the only Eagles victory under Kelly against an upper-echelon defense came last season against the Arizona Cardinals.  And in that game, the offense only produced 24 points, despite Cardinals’ quarterback Carson Palmer’s overwhelming generosity.  

Still, the 49ers are only the first of five tough, well-coached defenses the Eagles must face this year.  And my list does not include the Houston Texans or any team in the NFC East.  

How is Kelly going to change the tenor of those games without benefit of more scholarships?

In fairness, he is not the first coach to get exposed like this. Not so long ago, the St. Louis Rams featured one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history.  That team included Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Orlando Pace and Kurt Warner, who are all close to Hall of Fame worthy.  Not to mention Marshall Faulk, already a Canton enshrinee.  

Yet, even those Rams had trouble against good defenses.  

That is because at this level, players matter more than schemes and Nick Foles et al. are not enough.  

Perhaps Kelly’s actions in the off-season are the result of an arrogance that comes from extraordinary success.  He likely thinks his X’s and O’s, along with the players he identifies, are enough to win a Super Bowl.  He obviously believes his system trumps talent, which is why he chose not to replace DeSean Jackson.   

Maybe he’s right.  Maybe he bucks NFL history and wins a championship this season with a subpar defense, an All-Pro running back and a couple of complimentary players.  

If he does, he deserves his place as the NFL’s all-time taskmaster.

Until then, expect more of the same when the Eagles play the NFL’s better defenses.   

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-For all intent and purposes, an injury to the starting quarterback is the only reasonable time to discuss the health of a pro football team.  Kelly’s attempt to use injuries to explain his offense’s production is weak. He also failed to mention a football team’s depth, falls under the purview of its talent evaluator. Isn’t that him?

-And since Kelly made mention of his depleted offensive line, it is worth noting the 49ers played without FOUR defensive starters.  

-It is important to differentiate between principles and preferences.  In other words, height is not a good enough reason for Cary Williams to start at cornerback.  

-New York Jets’ offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is another example of the National Football League’s old boy’s network.  There is nothing in his résumé that makes him deserving of leading an offense.  

-While in the pocket, quarterback Geno Smith absorbed hits to his knees on one play, and a blow from the crown of a defender’s helmet on another.  It shows the league’s wish to protect quarterbacks, only applies to the best, most experienced players.    

-After only four weeks of play, 25 or 26 teams already look like also-rans.  

-The only thing worse than the state of officiating is the incessant chatter about it by game announcers.  The refs are bad. Let it go guys.  

-One of the interesting benefits of all the rules changes on hitting defenseless players, is the fact receivers are actually playing football again.  Not that long ago, many receivers caught passes and simply fell to the ground.   

-There is a pervasive lack of discipline seen in every NFL game, so it is no wonder it manifests itself off the field as well.

-If he works with him for three seasons, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner is going to make quarterback Teddy Bridgewater a star.  

-Speaking of Turner, he is a victim of the Peter Principle, but he is also one of the league’s all-time great offensive coordinators and play callers.  

-Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is in his 10th NFL campaign and his head coach (Andy Reid) is in his 16th.  Together, Reid and Smith mismanaged the clock like a couple of rookies.   


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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Photo: www.timesunion.com