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By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Chip Kelly maintained during his day-after press conference that the Eagles’ inept 15-7 showing to the New York Giants was actually an accumulation of all the little breakdowns that resulted in the large malfunction that took place on Sunday.
Against the Giants, the Eagles produced a season-low 201 yards of total offense and have now gone eight-straight quarters without an offensive touchdown. They bookended their 11 drives with interceptions, and were three-and-out on four possessions.
Under starting quarterback Michael Vick, the Eagles were outgained 203 to 27 yards by the Giants, could muster up a mere two first downs to New York’s 10, and averaged a paltry 1.6 yards a play to the Giants’ 5.6.
Granted, the Eagles’ quarterback situation is unstable, with Vick taken out late in the first half after reaggravating a pulled left hamstring he suffered in the Eagles’ victory over the Giants on Oct. 6; Nick Foles out with a concussion he suffered against Dallas two weeks and rookie quarterback Matt Barkley being thrust into playing far more than expected.
LeSean McCoy, just two weeks ago the NFL’s leading rusher, has been a nonfactor. In three of the Eagles’ last four games, McCoy has been held to 55 yards or less rushing. His touches have also gone down, getting 27 in the 31-20 victory over Tampa, 24 in the 17-3 Dallas debacle and 19 against the Giants on Sunday.
“You just hope that when you’re a little unstable at quarterback that you can lean on something else that can kind of help us get through those murky waters and that’s where as a group, we have to do a better job,” said Kelly, sounding an awful lot like his predecessor Andy Reid. “Let’s take a little pressure off. We don’t have to throw it on every down, because we’re running the ball so well. I thought we drove the well in the beginning of the second half. It’s why we emphasize the little things, because it’s the little things that can rear their ugly heads. It’s the difference between do we convert and keep that drive going, or do we just stick foot in the ground and move forward for one more yard. That one more yard could be the difference on the next play to us being able to get a first down.”
Kelly reiterated that it’s not all on the quarterback, whether it’s Vick, Foles or Barkley—whose ineptness is beginning to resemble another trio from Eagles’ lore, Bobby Hoying, Koy Detmer and Rodney Peete (that fun trio that quarterbacked the Eagles to a 3-13 finish in 1998 and led the way to the Eagles hiring Reid in 1999).
“We have to do a better job as a total group,” Kelly said. “But I have confidence in the group. It’s the same group that we had for the first six games and we were on track to set records. It’s not like we’re going to throw the baby out with bathwater and start over again and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to start something new here.’ We need to settle down. Our playmakers have to make plays. We have to go back to do the little things. Some things have been positive for us.”
Kelly said some of those “little things” are committing less penalties on offense, but he still harbors concerns on the right depths on passing routes, an area Kelly broached a number of times on Monday, and can receivers catch the ball and go forward, instead of sideways.
Kelly recalled two Barkley completions where he “put the ball on the money” but the receiver wasn’t deep enough on one route and too shallow on another route.
Kelly also addressed McCoy’s reactions to the last two losses. “Shady” has partially blamed himself for why the Eagles’ offense has soured.
“I think LeSean, to his credit, is his own worst critic,” Kelly said. “I think he takes a lot of responsibility in terms of his numbers being down the last two weeks. I think LeSean is trying to press too much and trying to hit a home run on every play, instead of letting it develop. Sometimes we talk about line get us two, back get us two, and it’s second-and-six. When we’re successful offensively, we’re playing downhill football. First and 10, goes to second and five, second-and-five may convert, or it goes to third-and-one. Those are a lot easier to convert.
“At times, because of LeSean’s competitiveness, he’s trying to hit the home run. And it’s one of his strengths, too. There’s times it’s tough to regulate, because you’re like, no, no, no, great run big guy. That’s what you get with him. He’s frustrated at himself, because he feels he’s leaving yards on the field. It’s one of the qualities I love about the kid.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.