McMullen’s Quick Hits: ‘Abandon Chip’
(973espn.com) - Philadelphia's version of the Titanic continued to sink in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day as Eagles players searching for a life boat in the moribund NFC East adopted the rallying cry "abandon Chip."
The Lions waxed the Eagles 45-14 in a game that really wasn't that close.
In the past five days Philadelphia has allowed 90 points and 10 touchdown passes to under whelming teams in Tampa Bay and Detroit.
Matthew Stafford tossed a Turkey Day record five for the Lions with three coming on fade routes to Calvin Johnson as Billy Davis continued to employ his preferred single-high looks on defense even though Megatron is a future Hall of Fame receiver and the Eagles lost their best cornerback, Nolan Carroll, to a broken ankle early in the second quarter.
Stafford completed 27-of-38 passes for 337 yards and the five TDs, while Johnson caught eight passes for 93 yards and the three scores. Theo Riddick and Golden Tate caught the other TD passes while Joique Bell added one on the ground, and Ziggy Ansah paced the Lions D with 3 1/2 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Mark Sanchez was unable to get anything going again on offense as the starter in place of the injured Sam Bradford, connecting on 19-of-27 throws for 199 yards and two TDs, one each to Brent Celek and Jordan Matthews. The running game was nonexistent again with Kenjon Barner's 30 yards on seven carries, largely in garbage time, matched DeMarco Murray's 30 on 14 carries.
FOX analyst Troy Aikman made this a referendum on Davis' admittedly far too consistent reliance in single-high safety looks especially after Johnson tortured cornerback Eric Rowe after the rookie was forced into action when Carroll suffered the broken ankle.
Rowe was victimized by Megatron on fade patterns on the Lions' last possession of the first half and their first of the third quarter. Of course, lost was the fact that Rowe had great coverage on both TDs but Stafford countered with perfect throws and one of the all-time greats was on the receiving end.
Before you start killing Davis, you have to go through Kelly who continues to put this defense in untenable positions because he will not move away from the up-tempo nonsense no matter how poorly his offense is playing.
At one point in this game, the Eagles' drive times were 33 seconds, 51 seconds, 12 seconds (half), 36 seconds, 3:04, and 1:07. Kelly is a slave to his scheme and that scheme is no star.
NO SEQUEL FOR BRADFORD
As expected Bradford was ruled out with the concussion/shoulder issues but that move meant far more when you consider how poorly Sanchez played against Tampa Bay and the fact that Bradford was able to practice fully on Wednesday. It's a clear indication that if Kelly is back as the Eagles coach in 2016, it will be with yet another new QB.
This was a potential season saver for Philadelphia and Bradford was not only ready to go, he certainly wanted to play because he understands he's playing for a contract here or elsewhere and needs to prove his mettle after all the injuries. Bradford will be back to play out the string from this point forward but book it, he's one-and-done as the Eagles signal caller.
'INSIDE' THE POOR LINEBACKER PLAY
On paper the inside linebacker position was the deepest on the defensive side of the ball but it hasn't turned out that way.
The best of the Eagles ILBs was rookie, third-round pick Jordan Hicks but a torn pec ended his season and veterans Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso just haven't played up to their lofty reputations.
The athletic Kendricks is often in position to make plays but he often takes bad angles in space, struggles in coverage and lacks gap discipline. Riddick, a tremendous receiver as the Lions' third-down back, had his way with Kendricks on Turkey Day, just the latest subpar performance for a player who signed a big-money contract extension earlier this year.
And as bad as Kendricks has been, he's Thomas Davis compared to Alonso, who is rarely ever in position to make a play and spent Thanksgiving on the milk carton. The only hope at this point for the ex-Buffalo Pro Bowler is that he's not healthy because if Alonso is 100 percent now, it's clear all the prior injuries have robbed him of too much.
INJURIES, INJURIES, INJURIES
It wasn't the back but Jason Peters was undercut from behind early in the contest in what could have resulted in a serious knee or ankle injury. The big man was able to walk off under his own power but never returned and Lane Johnson was forced to again flip from the right side and this wasn't the week you wanted that to happen because Ansah might be the best pure, weakside pass rusher in the NFC and he gave Johnson fits all afternoon.
Meanwhile, Carroll had to be carted off early in the second quarter. Rowe was inserted and Stafford was smart enough to immediately pick on him but as the game went on he held up as well as can be expected with little help against a very good receiving corps. In fact Rowe looked every bit as good as Byron Maxwell, who makes a tad more money.
ADAPT OR DIE
FOX analyst Terry Bradshaw made both a sharp and stupid statement on the pre-game show. Bradshaw said the Eagles offense should slow down the tempo aspect of the offense because the team just doesn't have the horses to do what Kelly wants right now.
That's sharp because it was an astute observation that should have been followed but also stupid because anyone who has ever followed Kelly understands the coach isn't bending his system or philosophy no matter the circumstance.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen