Chip Kelly’s Eagles were finally starting to string together some momentum. However, they were still haunted by two streaks that made them look anything but a contender. They had not won a home game in 10 tries, or 413 days, dating back to last September and they had not yet won three straight games this season. Both those streaks came to an end Sunday as the Eagles captured first place in the struggling NFC East by beating the rival Redskins 24-16.
If the game felt like déjà vu for fans that is because it unfolded remarkably close to the way the two team’s first meeting went back in September. The Eagles did not so much jump out to an early lead as they slowly accumulated one thanks to timely scoring and a stingy defense, two attributes not commonly ascribed to a Chip Kelly run squad. The Eagles took a 20-0 lead into the fourth quarter only to find their cushion quickly evaporate as the Redskins posted 16 unanswered points that would not prove to be enough.
Anything that happens with this year’s Eagles team will ultimately revolve around high profile new higher Chip Kelly. Kelly, a master of showing different personal in different positions had more than one new trick ready for his team’s second meeting with Washington. Kelly’s recent good fortune has turned his perception in Philadelphia from failed experiment back to viable professional football coach. Now that the Eagles are in first place it is easier for fans to see his team as a process, as one that is finally starting to gel.
True to their nature, however, Eagles’ fans still have a list of complaints for the new coach. Foremost on that list seems to be his handling of the challenge flag, a part of the game absent from college football were Kelly coached prior to the NFL. Matt Shaner of Rant Sports in Philadelphia wrote, “Part of coaching is identifying plays that need to be challenged. It can be crucial and, after this week, who really has faith that Kelly will challenge a play when needed in a big spot?” Of course, as fans know Kelly is not the one solely responsible for the decision. Pat Shurmur is an Eagles assistant in charge of reviewing reply coverage and reporting to Chip Kelly on what he saw. If the Eagle’s can improve in this area and continue to see the kind of production they have been getting from Nick Foles, they maybe a viable contender to make the playoffs.
Nick Foles picked up 298 passing yards and managed to scamper in for one score as he further supports his case to be considered a starting quarterback in the national football league, and not just one taking over for the injured Michael Vick. He did not throw a touchdown pass (although a play that saw wide receiver Riley Cooper marked down at the one yard line could have been overturned if the Eagles had challenged) but he did continue his incredible streak by not throwing an interception.
The Eagles will now head into their bye week before taking on the emerging Arizona Cardinals. Fans should look forward to seeing what kind of tricks Chip Kelly can cook up for his offense with an extra week of preparation.
By Nick Manai