McMullen’s Quick Hits: ‘Skins put Eagles out of 2015 misery
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Chip Kelly bit off more than he could chew when he set off a power struggle at One NovaCare Way back in January of this year.
And that hubris set in motion a disappointing 2015 Eagles season that reached an unpleasant denouement Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field when the Washington Redskins dominated Philadelphia en route to a two-touchdown win, 38-24.
The 'Skins clinched the NFC East and eliminated the Eagles from the playoff picture for the second consecutive season in Week 16.
Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns, two to Jordan Reed and one each to Pierre Garcon and Chris Thompson as Washington won just its second road game of the season.
Reed was especially dominant, hauling in nine passes for 129 yards as he tortured Bill Davis' defense in the middle of the field. Alfred Morris paced a pedestrian running game with 17 carries for 49 yards.
DeSean Jackson was largely held in check, catching just passes for 40 yards.
The Eagles offense put up decent numbers but most of them were hollow.
Sam Bradford completed 37-of-56 passes for 380 yards and a touchdown to Jordan Matthews, while Zach Ertz caught 13 passes for 122 yards.
Ertz, however, dropped at least two passes as the Philadelphia receivers continued their season-long habit of dropping balls with nine total hiccups.
The embattled DeMarco Murray led a nondescript running game with five carries for 27 yards and a TD but fumbled a pitch sweep in the third quarter that DeAngelo Hall returned 17 yards for a score, essentially securing the game for Washington.
The Eagles will now finish their season with a meaningless Week 17 matchup at the New York Giants next Sunday.
“It’s unacceptable,” Kelly said, when asked about not missing the postseason for the second straight year. “It’s 100 percent on my shoulders.”
“We didn’t play good enough or coach good enough to win a football game."
THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB
A lot of NFL coaches like to tell this story: When a new mentor gets the job and talks to his predecessor, the former coach hands him three letters with the following instructions: "the first time you get in trouble, open the first envelope and you will be saved."
Kelly will be opening that first letter tonight and it's going to say "fire your defensive coordinator."
The Eagles are just the fifth team in NFL history to give up 400 yards-or-more in six straight games as the Redskins piled up 418 on Saturday so Davis will likely be coaching his last game as Philadelphia's defensive boss next week in North Jersey.
They are the first team since the 2008 Lions to allow 38 or more points threedifferent times at home in the same season and that's 34 touchdown passes allowed are the most in franchise history.
"It's awful," Davis said. "This is the last place you wanted to be but this is where we find ourselves. We have to look hard at everybody and everything we're doing. We have to ask ourselves why this is happening and fix it."
Not of it's not fair because even a healthy defense on a Kelly- coached team is usually on fumes by Week 16 because of the coach's insistence that time of possession doesn't mean much.
And maybe it doesn't for his offense but the Philadelphia stop unit is on the field for the equivalent of 18 NFL games per season under Kelly so the wear and tear of seeing so many plays, not to mention the frenetic practice pace, is real.
Added to that equation was the fact that defensive starters Byron Maxwell and Bennie Logan were inactive for Saturday night’s must-win matchup at the Linc.
Maxwell, the team's high-priced cornerback, has been dealing with a SC joint sprain suffered in the first quarter against Arizona last Sunday while Logan, the team's best run stuffer up front, is dealing with some kind of calf issue which two different sources told 973espn.com was some kind of tear.
Veteran corner E.J. Biggers, an ex-Redskin, stepped in for Maxwell and second-year nose tackle Beau Allen started for Logan. Meanwhile, rookie corner Denzel Rice and defensive end Brandon Bair, who are typically inactive, were both dressed to add depth to Davis' embattled unit.
It was no surprise that none of that really worked although Biggers did hole up relatively well.
That said, Davis will be paying for the fact he is a good soldier.
"I do not (think about my future)," Davis said when asked about his job security. "That's for other men to decide that. What I think about is how I'm going to get this group of men to play next week.
"I've been down this road where you have seasons that are disappointing and everybody is looking for the blame game. As a team we have to make sure we hand together and take all the accountability that we need."
And it case you are wondering, Kelly's second letter reads "fire the offensive coordinator." The third? "Start writing three letters."
Kelly's offense is often-called quarterback proof by his acolytes, who often point out that most signal callers have put up career-best numbers under the tutelage of the Eagles coach.
Last I looked, however, fantasy football numbers don't count on the scoreboard of the Linc or any other NFL stadium for that matter.
Kelly is now 26-21 as an NFL coach in the regular season and Nick Foles will forever be 14-4 as his starter. Quick math says that means everyone else (Michael Vick, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford) are a combined 12-17 and that's not only underwater, it's significantly underwater.
You could try to put some context to that by saying Bradford would have been far more successful with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Evan Mathis surrounding him but it was Kelly's decision to move on from all those difference makers.
It's either a fifth QB for Kelly in 2016, sign a long-term extension with Bradford or give him the franchise tag at just about $20 million?
And that's what you got for Foles, a second-round pick and about $12 million more in salary.
TROUBLING TREND CONTINUES
All season long we've tried to find the right adjectives to describe just how poorly the Eagles wide receivers have been but no one was able to highlight it better than the Arizona Cardinals last week.
One of the few teams in football with a legitimate lockdown corner in Patrick Peterson, the Cards decided it was rookie Nelson Agholor who posed the biggest threat and instructed Peterson to shadow the Souther Cal product.
The results were well-documented in that Agholor played 57 snaps against Arizona and Peterson pitched a shutout.
It took Agholor all of one snap to catch a pass against a bad Washington defensive backfield but he managed just one more the rest of the game and had a mind-numbing drop that took a TD off the board.
Plenty of others chipped in to the biggest drop party in Philadelphia this holiday season as Bradford was let down time and time again by receiver after receiver with Riley Cooper, Ertz and Josh Huff all contributing.
"We've got to catch the ball," Ertz opined. "The receivers' job, the tight ends' job is to go out there and catch the ball. ...We take a lot of pride in going out there and making plays for (Sam Bradford). I had a few drops. That's inexcusable by me. It hurts, I mean, it really hurts. We've got to take this into the offseason. We had the whole division in our hands and we didn't get it done."
The Redskins are hardly going to remind you of Hawk and Animal, the legendary wrestling tag-team called the Road Warriors.
With the win tonight, the Redskins are just 3-12 away from FedEx Field under Jay Gruden but then again the Eagles are only 3-7 over their last 10 home games under Kelly.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen