CHIP Kelly hasn’t done shit yet, but there is an entire section of the Eagles fan base (I’ll call them the Chip Worshipers, C-dubs for short) that has decided that unless you agree with everything Kelly does, you’re a bad fan. If you disagree with anything Kelly does, the C-dubs go right to saying things like “You miss Reid, don’t you?” or “You’re still bitter over Reid, aren’t you?”. They’re our version of Cowboys fans who can’t go 30 seconds without saying “5 rings” or the word “hater”.
The truth however, is that I’m an EAGLES fan, not a Kelly fan. Until he actually gets my team where I want my team, I owe him nothing. This isn’t about Andy Reid, or Ray Rhodes, or Rich Kotite, or even Buddy Ryan. It’s not even about Chip Kelly, really. It should be about the Eagles. I’m invested in my team getting better, not in Kelly or his methods being proved right. Yet that’s where the discussions keep being centered. But let’s step back and just look at the team under Kelly shall we.
In two seasons he’s gone 20-12, mostly feeding off of sub .500 teams, and being manhandled by teams that would eventually see the playoffs. His best season so far was the one where he kept Reid’s roster mostly intact against a near last-place schedule, then rode it to 10-6 and a playoff appearance. That had the look of promise and since I was against his hiring to begin with, I was putting on my bib to eat some crow. (FYI: I was also not a fan of Reid’s hiring, but Big Red won me over in the middle of his first year.)
Kelly’s second season was riddled with subtle regressions, but the C-dubs saw 10-6 again and that was enough for them. All year long, regardless of QB, our offense would stall and sputter. All year long our defense failed to make adjustments. Brian Dawkins himself weighed in on that one . We had big holes on either side of the ball that opponents kept exploiting and it led to our collapse.
The Eagles added a lot of shiny pieces this offseason, but by and large we have gotten fundamentally worse over the last two years. By “fundamentally worse” I mean in the trenches. Fans of this sport are familiar with the axiom “games are won or lost in the trenches”. So let’s look at our lines shall we.
Our Offensive line led the league in rushing yards with 2,566 yards in 2013, they were 9th in 2014 with 1,992 yards. That’s less productive. Though sacks and hits went down from 125 to 96, that had more to do with the ball coming out quicker, which is also why our yards per pass dropped from 8.7 to 7.4, and our passes over 20 yards dropped from 98 to 76, along with a QB rating drop from 102.7 to 84.8. This is also less productive. (Before you lay this decline at Mark Sanchez’s feet, know that he was actually the better of our two QB’s last year.)
Almost none of our defensive playmaking is done by our starting defensive line. I use the word ‘starting’ for a reason and I’ll come back to that. Although our sacks ratcheted up from 37 in 2013, to 49 in 2014, that is almost entirely attributable to our OLB’s and back-up Defensive End Vinny Curry. Curry has out-performed every pass rusher on this team for two years except for Connor Barwin, yet still sits on the bench waiting for some other team (maybe the giants) to give him a chance to start. In the meantime our starting line’s sack production dropped from 6 sacks in 2013, to 5 in 2014, a mere 11 over two years. Put in perspective, Chiefs NT Dontari Poe has amassed 10.5 sacks in that time frame. Meanwhile Curry still sits.
These are not improvements. They are clear slides. Worse still, despite the Offensive Line’s slide from 2013 to 2014, we just lost both of our starting Guards for 2015. This team has only gotten soft in areas where playoff teams tend to be strong. In particular those areas are the stabilization of their offenses, and the maintenance of their defensive explosiveness. Chip Kelly’s teams don’t do these things and the C-dubs can’t stand when you bring that up.
You may ask, “Why or how could a fan say these things?” Simple. Because they happen to be the truth. I want my team to be better, and when I don’t see that happening I want it fixed. If a loved one was screwing up you’d say something, right? Well I love my Eagles. That Super Bowl parade fans want so badly, won’t happen if the team doesn’t become good enough to win one. Because unlike some fans, our rivals aren’t resting on what they did last year.
If you know football and aren’t concerned with ratings or sales, then you can be brutally honest about what is clearly spray-painted on the wall. Most sports experts won’t flat out say that what Kelly is doing is wrong; instead they generally opt for “We’ll see” type statements. Watch any national NFL coverage and you’ll see examples what I mean. The reason for that by the way, is that Philadelphia is the 4th largest television market in the U.S., so sports shows have no interest in pissing us off, for fear that we’ll tune that show out for one that talks “nicer” about us.
I don’t operate by ratings or sales, so I can say things that you don’t want to hear. Instead of merely entertaining you, I can inform you. Unlike the Spadaros and Lawlors of the world, the Eagles don’t pay my bills, so I don’t have to talk around the obvious holes and attempt to spin shit into gold. I can rah-rah as hard as anyone, but when truth needs speaking, I’m pretty much the only person who’s going to say certain things to you.
Here’s some perspective. You may love America, but hate Barack Obama. That doesn’t mean that you’ll give up your citizenship just because he’s the President. You just decide that you’ll wait this administration out because he can only last (8 years) so long in office. Same thing with Chip Kelly. I’ll be an Eagles fan long after he bails on us for the collegiate ranks, so basically I’ve decided to wait him out. I love my Eagles. Chip Kelly? Not so much.