With the early season struggles of the Philadelphia Eagles, suddenly everyone is breaking their legs jumping off of the Chip Kelly bandwagon — proclaiming that they saw it coming. Everyone has their magic fix for the offense: “If LeSean McCoy were still here they’d be winning,” one will say, or “Jeremy Maclin is the magical missing piece.”
I’d even bet that somebody out there thinks that the Eagles are victims of divine wrath for cutting Tim Tebow. The problem is that all of these theories (aside from smiting) do not address the real weak point on the offense — the offensive line.
Right now, somewhere, a Chip Kelly hater is screaming that the O-Line is playing poorly because Kelly got rid of Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. This would make a lot of sense if either of those players were doing well with their new teams.
But Mathis has not played well in Denver, calling himself ”the worst of the group“ after their Week 1 loss to Baltimore.
Likewise, Herremans hasn’t played very well, with Peter King writing in his Monday Morning Quarterback editorial that Colts GM Ryan Grigsen might be thinking that “maybe free-agent guard Todd Herremans is done.”
So if we can’t find a way to pin all of the Eagles’ problems on Kelly, then where does the issue lie?
Well, as is usually the case in a team sport like football, it isn’t one person’s fault, but rather a group of people’s fault. In this case, the blame can be spread around quite a bit, as the Eagles’ main problems are a lack of experience and a lack of chemistry between players.
Much as in the NBA, it took a season for Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh to really figure out how to play together in Miami, the Eagles can’t bring in a bunch of free agents and expect them to be perfect immediately.
Most of the Eagles’ offensive players haven’t played together long enough to have any real kind of chemistry. Along with replacing both starting guards, the Eagles have also added two new running backs, a new quarterback, and have built a receiver corps primarily of young players and a few veteran free agents.
The good news for Kelly and the Eagles is that the season is still very young, and the Cowboys have just been dealt a crippling blow by losing both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for multiple games.
This opens up the door for the Eagles to take back the division crown from Dallas despite their slow start. The Eagles are also lucky that the chemistry they are lacking on offense is something that tends to build naturally just by playing more games together.
By the end of the season, Philadelphia’s offense should be one of the most potent in the NFL again as a team with DeMarco Murray isn’t going to continue to struggle to run the ball.
The only question is if they can break through as an offense and take advantage of the Cowboys’ misfortune before it’s too late to win their division.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline