The Eagles dropped their franchise-record eighth straight home game on Thursday, 26-16, to the visiting Kansas City Chiefs.
That Andy Reid was at the helm of the now-3-and-0 Chiefs made it an even more bitter pill for Eagles fans to swallow. Maybe it was simply a bad game, punctuated by a halftime ceremony honoring Donovan McNabb that was as odd and vapid as the man himself.
Whatever the reason, it was a disgraceful performance by the home team that started out bad with a fumbled punt by Damaris Johnson and got worse from there.
Michael Vick predictably reverted to a turnover machine. After two more fumbles, Vick now has four in three games and has lost two of them. He also threw two first half interceptions, putting the Eagles deep into a hole out of which they could never claw. Of Vick’s turnovers this season, two have resulted in opponents’ touchdowns.
A team does not even give itself a chance when they turn the ball over, and Vick led the Eagles to a 5-0 deficit in that category. Listening to his justifications—and simple lack of understanding of how defeating turnovers are—is maddening. After eleven years in the NFL, he is not going to get it now.
Ironically, the much-maligned Eagle defense stopped the Chiefs time and again in the first half while the Eagles’ offense, the supposed strength of the team, sputtered. The Eagles held the Chiefs to six of 18 third-down conversions. They were put in poor positions all night by the offensive turnovers, but held their opponents to 1-6 on Red Zone opportunities. If not for that, the score could have gotten ugly early.
The defense is not blameless, as the middle of the field was once again shockingly wide open, making another pedestrian receiver, Donnie Avery, look Canton-bound with a 7-141 line.
That said, the defense was not the major factor in this loss. The pass rush was much better, as Vinny Curry notched one of its five sacks. Chiefs running back Jamal Charles ended up with decent numbers, but was well-contained in the first three quarters of the game.
As a whole, the Eagles looked unprepared and poorly coached. They finally achieved balance on offense, but it made no difference. If not for Lesean McCoy’s superhuman performances this year, the Eagles would be in even more dire straits than they are. On Thursday night, McCoy recorded his fifth career fourth-quarter rushing touchdown of 40-plus yards, an NFL record.
We expected bumps in the road for Chip Kelly, but these are more like brick walls. After an incredibly dynamic debut against the Redskins, the offense has gotten worse each game.
The keystone to this “revolutionary” system is its pace, but after Week 1, opponents have run more offensive plays than have the Birds each game. On Thursday, the Chiefs ran 77 plays to the Eagles’ 63. Did the NFL figure out Chip Kelly’s offense after one game?
As distasteful as losing to an Andy Reid-coached team was, it was not the worst thing that happened to the Eagles Thursday night. As the clock ticked down to zero, more foreboding than the loss, was the glimpse it provided into a suddenly bleak immediate future. This team is staring at 1-3 after an almost guaranteed loss to Denver next week.
After two games, it seemed the Eagles offense would continue to put up points in bunches and that the defense would struggle to stop opponents.
It seemed that dynamic would amount to a lot of high-scoring games where sometimes the Eagles would be able to score last or get a rare late-game defensive stop, maybe pushing an 8-8 record. In a bad division, the Eagles would remain in contention, and thus relevant, until late in the season.
Already, even that low bar is getting out of reach.
After this game, it is in question whether the offense will get back to scoring in bunches. The defense is already a huge question mark. When a team cannot necessarily count on one unit being a strength, it is a harbinger of bad things to come.
Chip Kelly is very much through the looking glass right now. He has said most of the right things. Eagles fans have to hope he can now do the right things to secure his listing ship...or at least that he can figure out what those things are in the NFL.