Where the 2014 Eagles Stand After Week 2

eagles-week2

One of the many things I admire about the Eagles under Chip Kelly is their moxie. Chipper pretty much thumbs his nose at convention and doesn’t really give a care how things are normally done. Does he want to flop in the first half every week? No, of course not. But the guy is utterly unflappable when his charges are bumbling around dazed and confused. He trusts his system that much.

Things looked dire in the third quarter on Monday night: dropped passes, errant throws, bonehead penalties, made and missed field goals, pisspoor run defense. It was vintage Andy Reid. I’m convinced if Reid were pacing the sidelines, the Eagles lose 30-20. His teams were famous for recovering from shitty starts just enough to tease us into believing they might come back to win, only to fold in the fourth quarter. The 2008 NFC Championship comes to mind.

Kelly is 9-2 in his last eleven games. Of those matchups, only last December’s disaster in Minnesota can be placed in the “bad” category. Lest we forget, Nick Foles exited the playoff loss to New Orleans with a lead. Then some guy named Darren Sproles ripped off a 39-yard kick return before being horse-collared by Cary Williams. The same Darren Sproles who did this on Monday night:

03 sproles 57 yard catch
Via: Inside the Eagles

That’s what Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly received for a measly 5th round pick. Steal of the century. Highway robbery. Felony trading. Call it what you want, but Sproles was born to play for Chip Kelly.

Offense:

Besides Sproles, the rest of the offense was solid if not spectacular. The enigma that is Nick Foles was on full display once again. Is he easing his way into the season, or can we expect a Jekyll-Hyde personality disorder on a weekly basis? I tend to think the latter, but as long as he doesn’t morph into a turnover turnstyle, the yards and points will keep coming.

The frustration with the wide receivers is warranted. Riley Cooper butterfingered a surefire touchdown. Jordan Matthews dropped three balls and committed a foolish holding penalty to wipe out a long gainer. Jeremy Maclin scooted out of bounds with open field in front of him, and did a crap job of fighting Greg Toler on Nick’s pick late in the first half.

This trio obviously needs to be better, especially with no real help behind them. Maclin is at least scoring. Matthews is a rookie suffering growing pains. Cooper, uh, I don’t know what to make of him. I hated the contract they handed him and thus far he’s done nothing to ameliorate my concerns. Then again, he’s a big play guy and big guy plays are wildly inconsistent (see DeSean Jackson).

I’m not worried about Shady in the least. Teams are stacking the box to stop him. Monster performances are on the horizon. Once defenses start paying too much attention to Sproles, Shady will strike. Book it.

Zach Ertz has 104 offensive snaps. Brent Celek has 105. Kelly is quickly realizing that Ertz is just too talented to be on the sidelines. My one issue is he’s not being utilized in the red zone enough. Monday night’s red zone bungling could’ve been lessened if Ertz was on the field, but he wasn’t. The Jags and Colts are far from defensive stalwarts, but Ertz was wide ass open in both games.

Defense:

The injury to Mychal Kendricks is a problem. They were already thin at ILB with Najee Goode done for the season, so it’s left to Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho to fill the gaping void. Neither inspires confidence. As for Kendricks, calf strains can be tricky. Don’t be surprised if he misses a month. The good news is the schedule is relatively favorable until the Week 7 bye. Billy Davis is a damn good improviser, but cobbling together a solution to this conundrum might be impossible.

Fletcher Cox has arrived, folks. He is shedding blockers with ease and blowing up plays all over the place. His forced fumble on Trent Richardson was just as important as anything the offense did. Ced Thornton and Bennie Logan were equally disruptive. I chalk up the Colts gashing them in the first half to not adjusting quick enough to the unbalanced line. Davis corrected his alignment at halftime and the second half holes weren’t nearly as big.

The secondary has been on point for six of eight quarters. Shutting down the likes of Reggie Wayne, TY Hilton, and Hakeem Nicks is a positive sign going forward. They aren’t perfect, but the addition of Malcolm Jenkins and Nolan Carroll represents a significant upgrade.

Special Teams:

Cody Parkey went from goat to hero in a flash. He shanked a 38-yarder, but nailed the 36-yard winner twice. He was also great on kickoffs, although the coverage units were shaky for much of the night. Donnie Jones was Donnie Jones. Effective.

Turnovers/Penalties:

An up for grabs interception by Foles at the end of the first half. It wasn’t a great throw, but as I mentioned before, Maclin squandered a chance to knock it down. That said, pretty bitchin’ play by Greg Toler. 11 infractions for 90 yards. Ugh. Three offsides on the defense and three combined ST calls on Bryan Braman and Chris Maragos. Clean it up, guys! On the bright side, only three penalties on the O-line through two games.

Looking Ahead:

First divisional tilt against those hated Redskins and a certain ex-Eagles wide receiver who has a bum shoulder. Washington’s defense is number one overall. Yes, you read that right. They sacked Chad Henne ten times in Week 2. Yes, ten times. Jason Hatcher owns the Birds, and Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are a nasty duo of pass rushers. Methinks the patchwork offensive line will be in for a challenging afternoon at the Linc.

DeSean is questionable, but I highly doubt he sits this one out. His ego won’t allow him to stand and watch. LeSean totaled 339 yards and three touchdowns in the 2013 meetings. If he’s gonna go off, this will be the week.

As much as I would love to see a blowout, I’m not feeling it. Jim Haslett had a long offseason to diagnose Chip’s attack. And no Kendricks has me worried. I think the Birds win, but it will be another pins ‘n needles affair.

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