Today we’ll take a look back over the past two seasons when Chip has gone up against playoff caliber competition and the results that ensued. We’ll also take a look forward to this season to what lies ahead on the scheduled for Chip and company. Mainly observing what changes the team needs to make to defeat more worthy foes. Chip is 20-12 during his time on the Eagles sidelines, but a large majority of those victories were not against eventual playoff teams. As the saying goes to be the best you have to beat the best. Let’s take a look back to start with…
Week 2- Chargers 33, Eagles 30
The San Diego Chargers were the first playoff caliber team Chip ran up against in his home debut as head coach. This was the definition of a shootout as both Philip Rivers and Mike Vick threw for over 400 yards. At this time the Eagles defense was still very much a work in progress and it appeared the Eagles would need to outscore teams to win any games. Rivers flat out abused the Eagles poorest secondary and Eddie Royal gave them fits having possibly the best game of his NFL career. This gave Chip a taste of going up against a playoff tested quarterback and what adjustments need to be made in the gameplan. It also gave us a look as Eagles fans as to high powered the offense could be even with Shady only getting 11 carries. Nick Novak ultimately won the game on a field goal with 11 seconds remaining. In retrospect Chip’s time management left a lot to be desired. San Diego wound up losing to Denver in the divisional round that season.
Week 3- Chiefs 26, Eagles 16
The return of Big Red marked a 2nd straight loss to a 2013 AFC playoff team. Turnovers killed the Eagles in this game as well as another speedy slot receiver Donnie Avery who had 141 yards. Donnie Avery had 7 catches for 141 yards just let that sink in. Mike Vick reverted to his turnover ways after two clean games to start the season. Big Red beat his replacement by exposing the Eagles defense and playing ball control. Justin Houston wreaked havoc as well with a multiple sack game causing the poor play from Vick. Shady had another big game with 158 yards, but it wasn’t enough. Kansas City went on to lose in the Wild Card round after blowing a huge lead to the Colts.
Week 4- Broncos 52, Eagles 20
I’m pretty sure no Eagles fans expected them to win this game in Mile High against Peyton Manning, other than my colleague for this website. Nonetheless this was the third straight loss to an eventual playoff team for Chip’s boys. The halftime deficit was only 8 points, but the Broncos high powered offense cranked it up in the third quarter and that was all she wrote for Week 4. Chip wasn’t exactly equipped with the defense to go on the road and beat Peyton much less not get blown out. However, it was the 2nd straight week his offense delivered an underwhelming performance against one of the better defenses in the AFC. Denver was the AFC champion that season and lost to Seattle in the Super Bowl.
Week 10- Eagles 27, Packers 13
You could consider this the Eagles first statement win under Chip since not many teams go into Lambeau and win. Aaron Rodgers was hurt the week before and Scott Tolzien eventually wound up under center in this game for the Pack. We’ll take this win with a grain of salt against a Packers team that made the playoffs that year. It probably would’ve been a different outcome had Rodgers suited up. However, the Eagles did show the ability to pound the rock and not turn the ball over on the road to secure a victory. Shady racked up 155 yards and Nick Foles tallied three touchdowns with most importantly zero turnovers. Green Bay lost in the Wild Card Round to the 49ers that season.
Week 14- Eagles 34, Lions 20
This is going to go down as one of the more memorable Eagles games in my lifetime. The Snow Bowl is all that really needs to be said for this one. While the Lions ultimately wound up not making the playoffs so this can’t be put under the category of beating a playoff team, but the adjustments Chip made in this game showed me he can succeed at this level. He went to a downhill running attack and eliminated routes from the passing game which obviously weren’t going to be successful in the conditions. Shady had the best game of his career putting up 217 yards rushing and two scores.
Wild Card Playoffs- Saints 26, Eagles 24
The only playoff performance we have to go off of for Chip is the Wild Card loss to the Saints in 2013. A Shayne Graham field goal at the horn ended the Eagles 2013 season at the Linc. I don’t fully blame Chip for this loss even though the offense started off rather slow and the Saints defense was no juggernaut. A key drop by Riley Cooper, horse collar tackle by Cary Williams, and the usual disappointment from Alex Henery led to an early playoff exit for our Birds. I do believe it took the team and coaching staff as a whole too long to adjust to the Saints game plan of power running with Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson. We all expected Drew Brees to attack with Jimmy Graham, but that was not the case at all. On the offensive side of the ball Shady really didn’t get going and it took cornerback Keenan Lewis getting hurt for Desean Jackson to finally appear. Overall, Chip just needs more chances in these spots to figure out adjustments and playoff football as a whole.
Week 2- Eagles 30, Colts 27
For me this is the signature win the Eagles have in the two seasons under Chip. They were heading into enemy territory on a Monday Night facing a Colts team at risk of starting the season 0-2. Not to mention they were facing one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Andrew Luck and the Eagles offensive line was in shambles. Darren Sproles was the star of this game with 152 receiving yards on 7 catches. I loved the way Sproles and Zach Ertz were used in this game unfortunately I would’ve liked to see it more during the season. Chip did a great job of using Sproles and the short passing game to give the backup offensive linemen like Andrew Gardner and Dennis Kelly as much help as possible. Lucas Oil Field is an extremely difficult place to win a football game and this victory gave me even more hope that Chip is the right guy for the job. Rookie kicker Cody Parkey won the game at the horn to start off the season 2-0.
Week 4- 49ers 26, Eagles 21
While the NIners ultimately flamed out and did not make the playoffs in 2014 they are considered to have one of the stronger defenses in football especially at this time. The 21 points the Eagles put up is very misleading since they all came off special teams or defensive scores. Darren Sproles, Malcolm Jenkins, and Brad Smith were scorers. The offensive line once again was decimated by injuries, but even still this type of lackluster performance leads right into the hands of critics for Chip Kelly’s offense. They struggled all game to move the ball and Lesean McCoy only managed 17 yards rushing which is hard to imagine for a quarter let alone a whole game. Nick Foles had another rough day not even managing 200 yards passing while also throwing two interceptions. Redzone offense reared it’s ugly head late in the game as the Eagles were not able to punch the ball in from the goal line to take the lead. I believe this was one of Chip’s poorer game plans as head coach.
Week 8- Cardinals 24, Eagles 20
This was another frustrating late game loss on the road for the Eagles. Nick Foles put up nice numbers, but he attempted 61 passes which will never win you games in the NFL. By this time the offensive line was still banged up although Lane Johnson had returned to action. A 75 yard bomb from Carson Palmer to rookie John Brown was the dagger in this Week 8 road loss. Nate Allen being the culprit as usual. Turnovers and a lack of balance in the play calling were my biggest beefs for this game. In order to take the next step as a team and head coach you need to find ways to win these games. Arizona lost to the Panthers in the Wild Card Round after Carson Palmer went down to an ACL injury.
Week 10- Eagles 45, Panthers 21
Technically this is a win for Chip against a playoff team since the Panthers eventually won the NFC South. At this point in time the Panthers were one of the worst teams in the NFC and the Eagles certainly exploited it even with Mark Sanchez at the helm. Another Monday Night win in the books, but I don’t consider this blowout win to be much of anything.
Week 11- Packers 53, Eagles 20
I’m sure most Eagles fans can agree with me we didn’t expect to go into Lambeau on a short week and beat the Packers with Mark Sanchez. However, I definitely was not expecting or looking for the beat down that ensued courtesy of Aaron Rodgers and company. The game was pretty much over by the end of the first quarter after Micah Hyde housed a punt for a TD. Rodgers did his thing and dissected the Eagles secondary with precision passing to Jordy Nelson as well as Randall Cobb. The Eagles offense never really got going and only had 6 points at halftime. That is not enough to win games on the road especially against the Packers. This was another example of Chip’s offense coming up small against one of the better defenses in the NFC. Needless to say we were all pretty down the following day. The Pack went on to lose in crushing fashion to Seattle in the NFC Championship Game.
Week 13- Eagles 33, Cowboys 10
The turkey tasted a little juicier both white and dark meat after the Eagles made a big statement in Dallas on Thanksgiving day. I will put this win right up there with the Colts victory as the Eagles dominated the action right from the jump. Shady had probably his best game of the season and Mark Sanchez guided the offense beautifully. The defense did a great job containing Demarco Murray and got after Tony Romo who was hobbled by his back injury. This was the exact type of game planning and preparation I was looking for from Chip.
Week 14- Seahawks 24, Eagles 14
This was probably the most demoralizing loss up until this point of the Chip Kelly era. There was so much buzz going around the city after the thrashing of Dallas and getting to rest up for the defending NFL champs at home. The offense was bullied around the field all day and eventually the defense couldn’t hold up anymore with how long they had to be on the field. This is one of my main concerns with the style of Chip’s offense they weren’t delivering any type of ball movement so the defense was forced to get pounded by Marshawn Lynch all game. None of the players said this, but I believe this loss and how they lost the game messed with the confidence of this team because they saw how far away they were from being able to compete with the likes of Seattle. The physical style of play the Seahawks defense showed on that Sunday really derailed Chip’s offense. Seattle lost to New England in the Super Bowl on a play that will haunt Seahawks fans forever.
Week 15- Cowboys 38, Eagles 27
This backbreaking loss to Dallas ultimately ended the Eagles chances of making the playoffs in 2014. For most fans it also made them forget about the win in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day weeks earlier. This was such a crushing loss to the fan base and for the team it made the last two weeks of football miserable. The team came out flat right from the jump and fell behind 21-0. Miraculously they bounced back to take the lead, but the secondary which was the main problem all season doomed them yet again. That was one of my biggest issues with Chip this past season was the stubbornness to remove Bradley Fletcher as well as Nate Allen from the secondary. Fletcher in particular was abused by Dez Bryant in this game and it cost them big time. As a coach you need to admit your mistakes from time to time and cut your losses. I would rather Chip had pulled the plug earlier and admitted he was wrong as opposed to standing behind “his guys” to a fault. Dallas lost to Green Bay in the divisional round.
After tallying up the records over the past two seasons Chip Kelly’s teams are 4-8 against playoff teams. One of those wins came against a Packers team in 2013 who had their third string quarterback playing for Rodgers so we’ll throw that win out. The other came this past season against a Panthers team who won a pathetic NFC South to earn the automatic bid, and that’s a mediocre win at best. The centralized theme in these losses seems to be the offense struggling to move the ball consistently and put up points against the higher quality teams/defenses in this league. You can group the San Francisco game into this mix as well even though they missed out on the playoffs they totally shut down the Eagles offense. For the most part Chip’s offense has been groundbreaking for this league and put up the numbers to support that point. However, the next step that needs to be taken is doing it against upper echelon defenses and playoff caliber quarterbacks.
As we take a look ahead to this year’s schedule and potential road blocks for wins there’s a few games that stand out besides the obvious divisional games. The Jets on the road in Week 3 is going to be a strong test because of Todd Bowles and that nasty defense they’ve assembled. The Panthers on the road in Week 7 could also prove to be difficult with the linebacker play they bring to the table in the form of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. The ultimate challenge on this year’s schedule could be Week 13 in Foxboro against the Patriots. I believe the Eagles will move the ball against New England, but the key is getting touchdowns not field goals to win that game. Arizona will be another battle in Week 15 at home even with Bowles no longer coordinating that defense.
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