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Chip Kelly deserves praise, but is it too late? NFL Unfiltered Week 14

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One way or the other, the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2015 season will end in disappointment.  

It does not matter if they play their last game in the Meadowlands against the New York Giants on January 3rd, or in the Wild Card round against the Seattle Seahawks. Either way, they aren’t a threat to win the Super Bowl.  

But Chip Kelly, the head coach and imperial wizard of all things Eagles, deserves some credit for actually trying to salvage the mess he created.  

His willingness to move running back DeMarco Murray to the background admits failure. And when someone acknowledges failure, even if it’s non-verbal, it merits a bit of grace.  

Not only is Murray essentially an offensive afterthought, but Kelly himself seems a little different. Gone, or at least partly hidden from public view, is the standoffish, arrogant know-it-all-coach, replaced by an apologetic, contrite sympathizer.  Chip Kelly/Bradford photo: ftw.usatoday.com

By making a point to express regret for the way he handled running back LeSean McCoy’s ouster, shows real growth. Of course, he didn’t bother to go into the reasons why he never called McCoy or his agent, to at least ask about the possibility of restructuring McCoy’s contract.  

And he hasn’t shared his thoughts on why it made more sense to spend about the same amount of money for 2015 on Frank Gore or Murray (both are bad fits) and Ryan Matthews (who can’t play a lot).  

Still, it is progress. And more importantly, it shows a man who is doing what he thinks he must to stay in Philadelphia. That’s making all the predictions of his imminent departure—including my own—look foolish.  

It seems Kelly is trying to stay in this pro football thing for the long haul and while that is admirable, it leaves Eagles fans in a bizarre place. Simply put, Kelly’s offensive system hasn’t been good enough.  Add to that the fact DeSean Jackson, McCoy, Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin are/were more talented than their replacements, and Kelly just isn’t the answer.  

What does all of that mean? It means a 7-9 finish.  

It also means Jeffrey Lurie is likely to let Kelly stay another season. It means Lurie and Kelly agree to let Kelly find another talent evaluator Kelly trusts. Not quite a “yes” man, but definitely someone who shares Kelly’s vision and sees the game the way he does.  

It means quarterback Sam Bradford, who’s 2015 season is a microcosm of his entire NFL career, is likely to get franchised for 2016 at about $21 million.  It means Kelly and cornerback Byron Maxwell will discuss restructuring Maxwell’s deal, which isn’t going to go well.  

And it means Kelly gets another chance to add talent to the roster via free agency and the draft.  Not a good thing when you consider the Eagles have nine picks. However, eight of those come in rounds 3-7 thanks to the Bradford trade.

But all of that is a concern for next season. Right now, Kelly is admitting wrongdoing and making some important adjustments in the hopes of finishing the season on a positive note.

And for that, he deserves praise.

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 14

-At 11-2, the Arizona Cardinals are one of the NFL’s best teams. But there is something about them that seems less than championship-caliber. Maybe it is quarterback Carson Palmer’s propensity for donations to the opposing defense. Maybe it’s because they’re out of good running backs, or maybe because their defense relies too much on blitzing.  

-A great tight end is more valuable in today’s NFL than a great wide receiver or running back.  

-By and large, NFL head coaches are vastly overrated. And for those unfamiliar with ‘Unfiltered,’ it goes like this: 1) Talent Evaluator, 2) Quarterback, and 3) head coach, a distant third, mind you.  However, he cannot stoop to Rich Kotite or Mike Singletary levels of ineptness.  Alas, San Francisco’s Jim Tomsula is on that level.  He seems like a genuinely nice man, which makes watching him flounder as sad as watching a bird try to fly with a broken wing.  

-Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton’s thumb injury is truly unfortunate. However, the idea that their Super Bowl chances are over because of his absence, is pure hyperbole. The play that caused his injury is precisely why the Bengals weren’t going to the Super Bowl anyway. Let’s not pretend Dalton got hurt because of an excessive touchdown celebration.  

-Too often, people look at the 2011 trade between Cleveland and Atlanta, which netted the Falcons Julio Jones and the Browns five draft picks, in a vacuum. Obviously, Jones is a terrific receiver and the Browns have only defensive tackle Phil Taylor left. But the NFL is about attrition, both in games and from season to season. Maybe keeping those picks gets the Falcons a productive receiver, a couple of linemen to keep quarterback Matt Ryan upright, an impact defensive player and a special team ace. That’s how you should analyze that trade.  

-During ESPN’S Monday Night Football telecast, Jon Gruden suggested Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn’t have permission to change plays until two weeks ago, when new offensive coordinator Zac Taylor took over.  In Tannehill’s 60th professional game, no less.  If true, that is absurd.      

-The notion a field general wouldn’t have complete autonomy to change a play if it gave his offense an advantage, is as arrogant and idiotic as it gets in professional sports. Yet, we wonder where all the good quarterbacks are. But in actuality, coaches don’t really want quarterbacks, they want robots who recite information. 

 

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/Bradford photo: ftw.usatoday.com