Since Week 10, the Philadelphia Eagles seem to be a lost team, and worse, a team without any idea of who they are.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ match-up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 11 was by no-means the worst they’ve ever had, but there was something more unsettling about that game than any I have witnessed in recent years. Dramatic? Sure. Then Thanksgiving happened. Philly’s contest against the Detroit Lions confirmed what I had feared: the Eagles have no identity. You may be thinking “no big deal,” but a team without an identity is bad. Pre-Mariota Tennessee Titans bad. Yeah, now you see what I was saying?
Even during the 4-12 dive-bomb that was the 2012 season, the Eagles had an identity. They were at least a speedy bunch that could blow passed a defense, on a good day. They dealt with some injuries, but the observing public still knew who they were. There wasn’t much of a defense then, but they ran the ball very well, and could still score some points.
Who are the Eagles, now?
Under Chip Kelly, it seemed clear they were a high-powered offense that could tire out and confuse opponents. That was until this year anyways. The team has struggled to be the offense they once were, but the defense had looked much improved. After a few weeks, it looked like Philly fans could hang-their-hats on having a good defense, and easily one of the Top-5 front-sevens on the league.
How quickly things change.
Unfortunately, you can’t count on the defense. There was a small window where it looked like the Eagles could identify themselves as a defensive team. They were one of the best against the run and the linebacker group, with Jordan Hicks, was flying all over the field. For the record, I still believe the defense is one of the more talented in the league. However, I think they, and the rest of the team, have mentally checked-out of the season. It was pretty clear during Philly’s game against Tampa Bay that something was off. The team just looked like they were “out” before they were ever “in.” Mark Sanchez led an impressive drive up the field in the first quarter and that was the last we ever really saw from the offense. And when Doug Martin busted off an 84 yard run, the defense looked like they threw in the towel. This all looked reminiscent of the week prior to that, in Miami.
Nov 26, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver
(81) catches a touchdown pass against Philadelphia Eagles free safety
(27) during the third quarter of a NFL game on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Fast forward to present day, and the Eagles played the same type of game against the Lions. They allowed one of the worst offenses in the league to run up the score. The Eagles did not seem to put up any fight, nor did they seem like they wanted to even be there. You would think that, on a prime-time stage, with nearly the entire country watching this team that they would have at least tried to show something. Anything. The Eagles have been in a spiral since Week 10, and since then the team doesn’t appear to be playing for each other, let alone Chip Kelly. They have no idea who they are. So, what is the problem? What happened to this team? It’s easy to sit around and point fingers at Chip Kelly and say “It’s him! He’s the reason! Fire his [expletive deleted]!”
Well, yeah, duh, of course it’s easy to do that. You’d be right.
It’s true; the sole reason this team has no identity is because Chip Kelly has erased any semblance of one. Guys like LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Evan Mathis, and Trent Cole (big time) were faces of the franchise. Love or loathe them, they gave the team and identity. Hell, they helped build the franchise. The team, and fans, knew exactly who they were. That is gone. Now, or at least soon, the Eagles are facing a “rebuild.” Which is why the franchise cannot fire Chip Kelly.
Go Joe Bruin
The only reason the Eagles are in a rebuild mode is because of his hubris. He has wanted to mold the team into his “vision” and it is seemingly failing. However, it’s his third year, and really only his first year with his vision. Chip Kelly has positioned himself nicely, if he gets fired, the Eagles will have to completely reboot, setting the franchise back another couple of years. If they keep Chip Kelly, the franchise can see his “vision” play out, and maybe turn the team into a juggernaut. Chip Kelly is hold the Eagles ransom, from themselves, at the threat of turning the team into the Washington Redskins. A revolving door of coaches and quarterbacks until the team fades away to perpetual mediocrity and irrelevancy. Keeping Chip Kelly around to see this through has to be better than that…right?