By Kevin McGuire
Times are tough for the Philadelphia sports fan. The Phillies took another step back this season and are now five years removed from that 2008 championship ride. The Flyers have already fired their head coach and the expectations for the Sixers are as low as they can go. In this football-crazed city, there have been 17 other teams to win a game in Lincoln Financial Field since the last home Eagles regular season win and there is no telling how high that number may get. After two straight home losses to division rivals, the temperature already seems to be rising on first-year head coach Chip Kelly.
The hiring of Chip Kelly out of the highly innovative and trendy Oregon football program from the Pac 12 Conference was never going to be an instant fix. Kelly was not stepping into a situation that saw a team just one or two pieces away from completing a championship puzzle. Instead, Kelly is opening the puzzle box and dumping the pieces on the table, trying to figure out what pieces go where. It takes time for the pieces to come together, and Kelly is not exactly doing a child’s puzzle. Kelly’s problem is all of the pieces he needs to complete the puzzle may not have been included in the box.
The Eagles arrive at the midway point of their season having started two different quarterbacks and playing all three options. If Nick Foles and Mike Vick are not ready to start this weekend’s game in Oakland, Matt Barkley will become the third different starting quarterback for the Eagles this season. There is still time for Kelly and his staff to evaluate just what they have in Foles and Barkley but the question about the franchise’s quarterback must be answered prior to the 2014 NFL Draft. If Foles or Barkley can prove worthy of leading this offense into the future, then so be it. If neither steps up in the second half of the season, then the Eagles must do what they can to draft a franchise quarterback in the upcoming draft.
Having a franchise quarterback is of the utmost importance, but the Eagles have a number of other areas to address. The offensive line has faltered a bit of late and the wide receivers could be seeing some changes coming up in the offseason. Remember, the Eagles are underway with a bit of a rebuilding project and to get the Eagles to run exactly the way Kelly desires will take time to adjust the roster because it cannot possibly be fixed in one year. Nobody is expecting the Eagles to be the NFL’s answer to the Oregon Ducks, but the expectation of scoring more than 10 points in two straight division games is absolutely more than fair.
Yes, Kelly is learning as he goes, so there will be moments and perhaps games that get away from him. The key is learning from the mistakes, and there have been a good handful or two of those to review moving forward.
Kelly is a good coach, but it will take a little more time to truly determine if he can make the Eagles a good team.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.