Eagles – Skins: 4 Bitter Lessons

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that sucked. The Eagles not only lost to Washington, but ended any hope of making the playoffs even in the miserable NFC East. Yes, there’s a game left against the Giants next week. But it’s time to start looking at the bigger lessons of this season as well as this game.

1. Cutting DeSean was not the problem.

It’s amazing how many people keep repeating that the Eagles “miss DeSean” or “got nothing in return for him.” He’s simply not that good, and Washington is going to cut him after this year too, also getting “nothing in return for him.”

He’s an aging, one-dimensional receiver with a poor work ethic who’s only asset — speed — is the one that is most hurt by age. Unlike, say, Larry Fitzgerald, he’s not going to work on his game in the off-season to develop new skills that offset his natural slowing.

His heart is not really into it, which is why he skips non-mandatory workouts and spends his time on partying, music and his reality TV show. There is no better example than the pass he caught at Philadelphia’s 43-yard line with 4:35 left in the first quarter. DJax caught the ball in the middle of the field with room to run, but as Malcolm Jenkins closed he ran backwards three yards, then literally cowered as he gave himself up before the safety could tackle him.

DeMarco Murray was rightly slaughtered for sliding on a run to avoid getting hit, but if you criticized that, you have to do the same for Jackson — whose team was trailing in a game to clinch the division title at the time. At least Murray didn’t run backwards to avoid pain.

Jackson had a career year under Chip Kelly in 2013 — the only year he’s played all 16 games since his rookie year in 2008. But his production has been dropping since, from 1,332 yards to 1,169 last year. With his (somewhat vague) injuries this year, he’ll be lucky to top 500 yards, and he hasn’t returned punts well since 2011.

Fans like to say he opens up the run game as a deep threat, and his absence has been killing the Eagles run game. But Washington is 18th in the NFL in rushing this year, even with RB Alfred Morris and a much-improved offensive line. For all its problems with DeMarco Murray and the OL this year, the Eagles were much better running, 11th overall with 1,623 yards to the Skins’ 1,420. After signing DeSean, the Skins’ rushing yardage dropped a ton, from 2,164 yards in 2013 to 1,691 last year and 1,420 in 15 games this year. So, no. DeSean doesn’t help the running game.

2. Billy Davis has to go.

The Eagles have a lot of talent on defense, from one of the league’s best front lines to a much-improved secondary. For all the criticism of Chip Kelly as a GM, his acquisitions of Eric Rowe, Walter Thurman Thurmond and JaCorey Shepherd were home runs.

Even so, the Eagles have been killed on defense this year, giving up 394 yards per game — worst in the NFL.

I’ve been pushing back against the often kneejerk criticism of Davis, but something is clearly wrong here. Linebackers are lost and not improving, the defensive line is erratic, and Davis can’t seem to game plan for obvious opponent strengths, such as Arizona rookie RB David Johnson or Washington TE Jordan Reed.

3. Chemistry is a rare and valuable thing.

Good players don’t always work well together — DeSean Jackson was much more effective with Mike Vick than Nick Foles, and Mark Sanchez looks lost with any receiver not named Jordan Matthews.

This was especially obvious on the offensive line this year. Chip was wise to cut Todd Herremans, who was benched after two games in Indianapolis, and cutting Evan Mathis was at worst debatable. Jason Peters criticized Mathis very publicly for skipping Organized Team Activities last spring, and this I think forced Chip’s hands toward cutting Mathis, who lined up next to Peters on the left side.

But talent isn’t enough to make someone fit on an OL — there is a lot of communication and cooperation required. As talented as they may be (which isn’t very), Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin have just not fit in very well with the Eagles’ front line, and all of the team’s offensive struggles start with that failure.

Worse yet, Jason Peters at left tackle is old and fading fast. The Eagles now face the need to replace two or three starting linemen, and the risk of bad chemistry starts all over again with each one.

4. The Eagles won’t be very good next year, either — with or without Chip.

This team had a lot of very serious holes in talent that Chip (and before him, Andy Reid) have been able to mask with clever play-calling. Notably, the OL was aging and fading, the inside linebacker corps was weak and the secondary was abysmal.

Well, others teams have caught up with the play-calling and are exposing these gaps. There are too many to fill with the team’s draft picks, and last year’s experience shows the limits of high-priced free agents in building your team. The very cheap Walter Thurman was a great bargain, and Ryan Mathews proved to be solid value, but DeMarco Murray was a disaster and Byron Maxwell remained a good #2 CB without ever growing into the shutdown, follow-the-opponent’s-star-receiver type of corner he was paid to become.

This situation might improve as Chip Kelly learns the GM ropes, but the Eagles will need years to build up to a strong playoff team. Chip learned the hard way last spring why other teams don’t make a half dozen or more major roster changes in a short amount of time. Each change is something that can go wrong, and rapid-fire change without careful consideration of chemistry leads to, well, the awful season the Eagles are having.


41 Responses

      1. Can’t cut me! I fit into the hard scrabble, Trump Jock Supporter, bad roast beef juice coming out of a mouth-breather, Haus Frau smoking a Lucky Strike culture that is Philly! Keeping the identity baby!

    1. Can all you scumbag eagles fans finally admit I was dead on when I called it the worst coach hiring ever? Of course you all won’t admit it but you still all know I was 100% right, funny how you were all so quick to call me an a-hole and defend chip calling him a genius. Blow me eagles fans your teams sucks your coach sucks even more and YOU WILL ALWAYS BE A CITY OF LOOSERS!

      1. I agree with Heath I remember everyone saying he was wrong and completely nuts and just hated philly and was just jealous cause the Eagles were so great and going to win a super bowl without using a fullback when really he was just doing his job as an analyst and calling it how he saw it, I never understood that

  1. Seriously Saltveit? When you clean chips semen off your chin, let us know:

    Btw: It’s Walter THURMOND. You and lazy Jim have become interchangeable in your glaring stupidity.

    Can you define for me what makes JaCory Shepard “acquisition” a ‘home run’ ? Last I checked, dude never got on the field.

    Later today, could you do a few of your riveting screen grabs where you highlight open Eagles receivers AFTER the ball has been thrown? Those are super-insightful.

  2. Jackson is a turd, no question. But No Balls Chip let him go for nothing.

    Now the question remains – will No Balls Lurie fire him?

  3. Christ Almighty, Saltveit. THURMOND. You purportedly cover this team and you fucked it up twice. I lost count of the other typos at 3. You paid for insight like “Billy Davis has to go”? Did you think that up all by yourself or did you drill down with some next-level analytics? I figured that out when Jameis Winston and Matt Stafford humiliated the defense, then Ryan Tannehill walked out of the Linc with a win. How did you graduate Harvard if this is what you consider “professional-grade work”? I flushed better material down the toilet this morning after my 5 a.m. constitutional.
    Kyle, let Mrs. Scott handle the baby and save your site. You need to feed your family, son. These assholes are going to put you on the street.

    1. Agreed 100% ^^^^

      It’s like with every typo by Saltveit and Jim’s complete ineptitude (he posted last week the Eagles played on Sunday !! Haha -dope!) is a gigantic middle finger to Kyle and everything he’s done to tear it down.

      I know 14yo’s that could break down the sixers and Eagles infinitely better than these two hacks. And they’d work for milk and cookies.

  4. Quite the day to slurp Kelly and absolve him of everything that went wrong this season. Clown.

    Also, typos, many of them. But like Kelly, I’m sure they’re not your fault

    1. Seriously. If I can take the time to spellcheck my emails and posts for free, anyone can. You asshats are professionals in name only, in that you get paid. Your work is less than amateur. I never spent a day in J-school but I still have better command of my native language than the guys paid to post this shit.

    2. Don’t worry Kyle. There’s been enough people ignoring our ads on your site and blowing past our weak ad copy disguised as a CB story that we will find you a place to live when you’re forced from your home by the incompetent jackasses you hired to run your site. You’ll love Delaware. Miles away from… everything really. Did we mention no sales tax? No sales tax.

  5. So after that dumpster fire of a season from this shitty team and their shitty coach and that awful game with their shitty season on the line your first observation of that game was in defense of Chip Kelly?

    You fucking fraud. This site is a disgrace

    Crazy thing is I agreement DeSean Jackson is everything you say and Kelly should have cut him just as the Redskins will this off season.

    However, it speaks volumes about you and this propagandist site that you use your observation of the game to defend the guy most responsible for fucking this franchise up.

    *Steve Mason is still not an elite NHL goalie.

  6. “Byron Maxwell remained a good #2 CB without ever growing into the shutdown, follow-the-opponent’s-star-receiver type of corner he was paid to become.”

    What do you mean? Maxwell has been following the opponent’s star receiver in every game. I mean, he’s following them from like 5-10 yards behind, but he’s still following them.

  7. “JaCorey Shepherd were home runs: ” HUH? Where did you come up with this? Guy didnt play an NFL game this year.

  8. Sorry man. Getting rid of Jackson was the first domino to fall in all this. A one dimensional reciever? Yeah, ok, i bet you were screamimg that when he was catching 60 yard td bombs and returning punts for us all the time….and just ggenerally changing the complexions of games. Aging? Yeah, but look at how hes played since coming back from injury this year. You think its any coincidence that as he returned, the skins took off? I get that he was an annoyance. But you have to deal with idiots like that in the NFL. He is an ass but he never did anything approaching greg hardy level that warrented just a flat out release. And yes, mark, getting nothing in return for him was a fucking travesty. Letting him (and maclin too) go didnt just effect us at face value when it comes to plays….Look at this fucking receiving corps we had this year and last and look at the offensive line. You think that, oh i dunno, if we maybe had an explosive game changing recoever or two on our roster, maybe we wouldnt have had to waste high draft picks on WRs two years straight, and JUST MAYBE, could have drafted some linemen and DBs? Jesus man. Such revisionist history with this dude.

    1. And also, he may not have opened up the run game in washington, but he sure as shit did here. And i love how people point to stats with this run game and act like its good. Please man. Hollowest stats ever. This running game was atrocious all year. Murray was the ring leader for it but Mathews and sproles didnt do too much to help either. Opposing defensive coordinators dont need to be genius’ to realize that a team that has Riley Cooper as a #1/2 reciever isnt going to get much done in the passing game. Teams just lazer focused in on our run game all. Fucking. Year. Because they knew this teams recievers are mediocre at best and had…wait for it…no deep threat.

    2. Letting Maclin go (and thinking Agholor could replace him) was probably Chip’s biggest mistake of the off-season. His departure hurt in a way that DeSean’s never did, because Maclin was there to pick up the slack (and had almost identical numbers to Jackson.)

      DeSean hasn’t been a punt returner for a very long time. In 2013 Chip tried to revive that part of his game, and he only managed 71 yards on 14 punts. in 2012, 2014 and 2015 combined, DeSean returned 4 punts for a total of minus 8 yards. So no, he was a great punt returner once obviously, but it was many years ago.

  9. Salty, you’re the worst. And, for the love of God, no more Jason Peters. I’m sick of that false-starting, injury-faking, sack giving up titsoon.

  10. Walter Thurmond, Eric Rowe, and Jacorey Shepherd were home runs??? What the fuck are you talking about?? Thurmonds been good but the other to haven’t done anything of note except not play all year and get lit up on Thanksgiving. I know you might still be drunk from the game, but that’s one of the stupidest things I’ve read all season.

    Also, anyone with an ounce of football knowledge knows that yardage stats don’t mean jack shit with Chips offense because they run more plays than everyone else! You have to look at YPC if you want a good analysis, but as we know that is not what you should expect when you come to Crossing Broad. Jesus Kyle, you’re a worse talent selector than Chip.

    1. Pitch a wet football to an unsuspecting, inept, over rated,and over paid running back.

  11. You can’t say Redskins are 18th at run so DeSean doesn’t help without giving us only the stats in which he played. And RB total yardage is a better indicator than just runs.

    All I know is kirk cousins is a heck of a lot better with jackson playing.

    1. Kirk Cousins is definitely much better with DeSean — they have good chemistry on long passes, in a way that for example Nick Foles didn’t really. (Vick was much better finding Jackson deep.)

      Those are good points about games DeSean played in, and RB total yardage, given how much RGIII once ran. He had 489 yards in 2013, and 176 in 2014, so that pretty much accounts for the team’s decline. But the RBs total stayed the same, so DeSean didn’t do anything to improve the RBs performance. As for this year, he didn’t really play until after the bye, and Washignton’s first two games (without him on more than a handful of plays) were two of the biggest, if not the two biggest RB running games all year. They’re the only games all year that a Washington RB has more than 100 yards.

  12. Anyone who says getting rid of Jackson was a step in the right direction is a fool. The fake gang story tells you all you need to know about Kelly and his mindset. Don’t be a pussy. You don’t like him /don’t want him say it. Instead of making up bullshit thru your ” yes” people.

  13. This has been mentioned a few times but seriously how are we supposed to read this garbage when you can’t even spell names correctly? Do you even follow the team or does Kyle pay you 1 day a week to throw some $hit at a wall and hope it sticks. You even went back after criticism and respelled Thurmond correctly only to leave it as Thurman later. Unbelievably lazy. Kyle how do you expect this website to be taken seriously yes you may be doing well now but if you think that this is your future and that things like this continue and prosper for the next however many years you are crazy. Much more respectable sites are popping up and slowly gaining steam. You better watch your back if you are going to continue to have faith and rely on writers like this and Jim to carry you forward.

  14. Mark, I have really enjoyed your analysis most of the year. It was a great addition to CB. I’ve posted for Kyle to hire you and get rid of Jim, who is a waste of life. This analysis was one of the worst all year. It really comes off as letting chip off the hook. I also thought that if RBs are a depreciating asset after age 25 and their careers get worse, then why did we give Murray a butt-load of money? Perhaps Chip should take notes from SEC Schools and just get RBs that all fit a profile that are interchangeable? I look at program like Georgia or Alabama. Get a RB who gets good for 2 years goes to NFL or gets hurt mid-season and you have the next one ready who is equally as good.

    Also, I think Eric Rowe has done a good job this year. JaCorey did not step on the field or had minimal impact period. Kiko looked good early, but his injury made him a shell. Again, this team has no linebackers that are beyond serviceable/decent for the 8th year. Linebackers are the keystone to a defense.

    Its one thing for Chip Kelly to blow things up as a new coach because he doesn’t like the set-up as a coach/GM. The first 18 months can be excused. its year 3. Chip Kelly might be a failure in the NFL, or at least as a GM.

  15. I know this is an amateurish blog, but shouldn’t you know the names of the players?

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