“This was a team effort” they always say after a win. Well, this defeat was a team effort too, and there is a lot of blame to go around.
There were a handful of players on the Eagles who performed well, or were at least solid. Josh Huff had a strong game, for once. Brent Celek was incredible. And Walter Thurmond had a beautiful sack for a forced fumble safety. Donnie Jones had another great punting game.
Sam Bradford was 19-for-25 for 236 yards and a touchdown. Yeah, he got injured, but how many people can say they expected him to take as many hard shots as he has this year and not get hurt? Even when he did, it was his shoulder and a concussion, not his twice-repaired knee. Win?
The Eagles secondary did a good job on Jarvis Landry, aside from his one ridiculously lucky catch on the bounce off Connor Barwin’s helmet. Then again, it was inexcusable how easily Landry caught that ball; he didn’t even have to lift his arms. Just as with Dez Bryant’s leaping catch on Matt Cassel’s early Hail Mary last week, the DBs should have been able to find that ball and slap it down, if not catch it.
And, um, who else… I guess Brandon Bair warmed the bench well? Pretty easy when you’re inactive. Other than that, everybody was terrible and deserves at least a share of the blame for one of the worst losses in Eagles history, relative to how bad the opponent was. [Editor’s note: I don’t think the Dolphins are as bad as everyone else does. They’ve been playing significantly better under the new coach.]
Here are a quick six nominations for Big Failure of the Day.
1. Chip Kelly
I like Chip. I’ve written books about the guy. I wish him the best going forward. But he’s the captain of the ship, and he has total control. The buck stops with him.
Some people don’t like the way he assigns blame after games, talking about drops or execution. Tonight, for example, he said that long snapping was a big factor in the loss. Well, yeah, it was. I like the way he speaks honestly and describes the elephant in the room. Dorenbos was terrible today. That’s fine.
But Chip is the boss. If a players stinks, that’s on Chip for choosing him and playing him and calling plays that involve that guy.
Tonight, for example, Chip knew that he needed a way to coach around Suh. And…. nothing. Suh had his biggest game of the year, and disrupted Philly’s run game and pass protection.
End of the first half — I have no problem with Chip taking a shot. If you don’t like aggressive play calling, you shouldn’t have hired Chip. And the same people complaining about that also complain when he plays it safe, saying they miss “Big Balls Chip.” You can’t have it both ways.
That said, when you take your shot, you need to make damn sure it’s a safe one. If no one’s open, throw it away, or take the sack, or scramble. Don’t risk an interception + return. It’s on Chip to communicate that to his quarterback.
Other mistakes — getting away from the run when you know your dinged up offensive line is much less effective in pass protection. As GM, trying to skate by without beefing up the OL in the first place. Not a secret, but a real, big error. Not going to Celek more than four times, when he’s averaging more than 33 yards per catch
2. Jon Dorenbos
Dorenbos makes a good living for doing only one thing — hiking long and accurately. He didn’t, leading to a missed field goal and a blocked punt. The Eagles lost by one. Draw your own conclusions. [Editor’s note: He also makes a good living as a public speaker slash magician. And another week like this one, he’ll be glad he’s planned for the future. That’s just the nature of the position, even though Dorenbos has been damn near perfect for, what, a decade now?]
3. Miles Austin
He was hired to be the steady hand, a wily veteran who could educate the many young receivers and make some plays. I was fine with his signing, it makes sense. But one thing he should absolutely know how to do by now? Drag his feet in the end zone to make a catch count.
Let’s look at his statistics. I know they can distort reality, but in this case I think they’re pretty descriptive of his work today. On four targets, he had zero receptions for zero yards, with zero touchdowns and a long of zero. Now, I’ve never played or coached organized football at the high school, college or pro level, but I’m pretty sure that’s not good.
4. Mark Sanchez
I almost don’t want to blame him, because at this point we know what he is: an intelligent guy who knows the system, can play the tempo offense better than Bradford, is fine at short passes but bad going deep or outside the numbers. He also turns the ball over a lot, and all of those flaws explain why he’s a backup QB, not a starter.
So yeah, he’s better than Brandon Weeden. But screw him, throwing an interception
a TD in the end zone is always bad. He makes millions, and should spend his free time on the bench figuring out how not to.
5. Caleb Sturgis
I shouldn’t need to explain this to you.
6. Jason Kelce
I’ll let him explain:
Jason Kelce: "That was the worst game of my entire career. Three penalties. f**ing bad snap, and just a terrible blocking performance."
— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) November 15, 2015
Here’s the punchline to this bad joke of a game: after that incredibly painful and inept performance, the Eagles are half a game out of first place in the NFC East. If they win next week against the Bucs, they’ll be in first place in the division. Don’t bet on it.