The Philadelphia Eagles were 4-12 in 2012, causing long-time head coach Andy Reid’s ousting. Philadelphia ended its search for a new coach quickly, settling on offensive guru Chip Kelly from the University of Oregon. While many renowned college coaches have come into the NFL and failed such as Nick Saban, Bud Wilkinson and Steve Spurrier, Kelly was an instant success.
Kelly transformed the Eagles into a fast-paced, lightning-strike offense in 2013, guiding Philadelphia to a 10-6 record and an NFC East title. The New Orleans Saints put an end to the campaign in the wild-card round, but the future remained bright with Nick Foles at the helm, surrounded by elite talent.
In 2014, the team has remained playoff-caliber. There has been drop off recently, with a large reason being the injury to starting quarterback Nick Foles. Foles broke his collarbone in Week 9 against the Houston Texans and has not played since, giving way to Mark Sanchez. Sanchez has been a typical backup, tossing 10 touchdowns and nine picks with six fumbles. In his starts, the Eagles are 3-3 and limited in their playcalling.
Kelly also shook things up in the offseason when he released star receiver/returner DeSean Jackson. Jackson has been replaced in the offense by Jeremy Maclin, who returned from a torn ACL in 2013 to enjoy a career year. Maclin has amassed 1,207 yards and 10 touchdowns, both team and career highs.
It is hard to blame Kelly for some of the struggles Philadelphia has dealt with this season. Some point to Kelly’s offense being figured out by other coaching staffs, but that is not entirely true. The Eagles rank fifth in total offense despite the cavalcade of injuries and a first-place schedule. Last year, Philadelphia was second in offense, averaging 30 more yards but two less points per game than this year’s edition.
The Eagles are 9-5, but find themselves on the outside of the NFC playoff picture after dropping a 38-27 decision to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. Without help, Philadelphia would miss the postseason even with 11 wins. Should that scenario materialize, the Eagles would be the first NFC team in the current playoff structure to be so unlucky. Still, Kelly wants no sympathy, per Phil Sheridan of ESPN.
“If we win 11 games and it’s not good enough to get in, shame on us because we didn’t win the right games. That’s the bottom line. That’s what this whole deal is all about and we know it going in.”
In a city so passionate about football like Philadelphia, anger will blind the fan base should the playoffs not include the Eagles. The blame game will begin, and Kelly’s name will be brought up. There will be complaints that he failed to coach up Sanchez. In reality, Kelly has done a terrific job with a talented but banged-up team.