Although the Eagles had managed to win three of their last four games entering tonight’s match against the Carolina Panthers, the team had been getting away with some frustratingly inconsistent offensive play.
Chip Kelly and the Birds were able to get away with poor offensive showings against the Jets and Giants, but this time their failures came back to haunt them against the Panthers.
The Eagles suffered through their traditional slow start, generating only six points in the first two quarters. A fluky play that produced a 65-yard run by Ryan Mathews provided the club with their only touchdown of the night, and failures on key plays in key moments would prove to be the team’s undoing as the offense finished the night generating a woeful 16 points.
Sam Bradford was better tonight then he was last week against New York. But how could not be? There was nowhere to go but up for Bradford after his miserable showing against the Giants.
Bradford threw for just 205 yards, failed to find the endzone, and tossed another interception. He wasn’t horrible, and he wasn’t the reason the Eagles lost this game, but he once again showed nothing to justify what the Kelly invested in him.
The biggest problem tonight was the wide receivers. The Eagles had eight dropped passes tonight, including a drop by Miles Austin on the final drive that would have moved the chains on fourth down.
What in the world has happened to Jordan Matthews?
The Eagles’ second-round pick of a year ago has regressed considerably in his second season. The guy just can’t catch a ball to save his life. All season, Matthews has struggled with drops, a trend that reared its ugly head once again in the first quarter, where he let a ball slide off of his hands and into the arms of former Eagle Kurt Coleman.
Matthews dropped another pass later in the first half, and later on failed to get his feet down on a pass in the endzone.
The wide receivers have been a major weak spot throughout the season, but Matthews has by far been the biggest disappointment of them all.
The lack of production by the offense in the first half is just woeful. The Eagles have scored just 10 points in the first quarter all season, which is an absolutely absurd number.
This was a game that the Eagles desperately missed a proven number-one receiver like Jeremy Maclin…
Chip Kelly Still Can’t Beat A Winning Team
Another consistent theme of the Chip Kelly era has been failures against winning teams.
Kelly was just 2-5 last season against teams with winning records, and came up small once again tonight against the undefeated Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers didn’t play particularly well, and gave Kelly and the Eagles ample opportunity to seize the game. The Panthers turned the football over three times, and the Eagles’ offense still struggled to put up the 16 points that they did.
The Carolina defense, with the exception of the touchdown run allowed to Ryan Mathews, beat Kelly’s offense up and shut them down, just as elite defenses have done to Kelly in the past.
Defense Gashed In Running Game
The Eagles had gone 18 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, but that streak crashing to an end tonight.
The Eagles allowed over 200 rushing yards during tonight’s game, including 125 to veteran running back Jonathan Stewart.
- Jason Peters left the game with back spasms in what was a pretty scary scene on the field. Matt Tobin slid over to left tackle to replace him, and really struggled in protection later in the game.
- Lane Johnson committed a false start penalty on the opening drive that negated a completion to Zach Ertz on a 3rd and 6. Bradford was sacked on the next play, forcing the Eagles to punt.
- Ryan Mathews continues to make the most of his limited touches, picking up 97 yards on just six carries.
- DeMarco Murray picked up 65 yards on 18 touches.
- Darren Sproles finally reemerged in the passing game a bit, catching five passes for 31 yards.
- Zach Ertz caught five balls for 63 yards, but had one of the Eagles’ drops.
- Just three catches for 14 yards for Jordan Matthews.
- Mychal Kendricks returned to the lineup tonight, filling in DeMeco Ryans who was unable to play through his injured hamstring.
- Kendricks was in on seven tackles, and also picked up a sack in his return.
- The Eagles’ defense was gashed badly on Carolina’s opening drive, allowing a 36-yard run to Jonathan Stewart and a 25-yard completion down to the goaline to Corey Brown, leading to Mike Tolbert’s touchdown run.
- Heck of a play by Nolan Carroll to rip the ball loose from Ted Ginn on Carolina’s second drive. Ginn beat Carroll, and caught the ball down by the goalline, but Carroll was able to wrestle the ball out and create a turnover that prevented the Panthers from taking a 14-0 lead.
- Byron Maxwell made his first great play as an Eagle, coming down with a difficult interception to set the Birds up with a short field.
- Sensational interception by Malcolm Jenkins before the end of the first half, setting up the Eagles for a field goal before the half.
- Najee Goode was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul after a punt, helping the Panthers get some better field position.
- Caleb Sturgis hit three of his four field goal attempts, including a 52-yarder. His miss was from more than 50 yards.
Well, the Eagles couldn’t hold their claim on first place in the division for even a full week.
Just six days later, the Birds have already been knocked back below the Giants in the standings.
Chip Kelly’s offense has been terrible all year long, there’s no getting around that.
They scored just 16 points tonight. They generated only 17 last week against the Giants. There have been slow starts in the first half in every game.
Kelly has turned one of the league’s most potent offenses into a mediocre one, and he did it by getting “his guys” into place.
Sam Bradford has been mediocre at best through seven weeks. Even when Bradford is able to make throws, the wide receivers drop them. The offensive line already had paper-thin depth, and Kelly saw fit to ignore it for the second straight year, but dumped significant salary cap money into paying not one but TWO high-priced free agent running backs, losing his 85-catch 1,300 yard receiver in the process.
And the result is what the team has become: 3-4, no better than the rest of the garbage in the NFC East, and incapable of contending with true contenders in the conference.
Follow Denny Basens on Twitter, @DennyBasens