No rule of thumb for Chip Kelly's decision to kick 60-yard FG at end of first half

No rule of thumb for Chip Kelly's decision to kick 60-yard FG at end of first half

Fans were less than enthused with Chip Kelly’s decision to attempt a 60-yard field goal during the Eagles 17-3 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. “Charlie College,” they called him on the blogosphere and talk radio airwaves, insinuating that the brains behind a college football revolution struggles to grasp basic NFL strategy.

Turns out, there’s not much of a rule of thumb here. Only four times in the last five years (2,560 games) had a coach faced what Kelly did on Sunday: fourth-and-1 between an opponent’s 40 and 45 yard line with under one minute to go in the first half.  (And those parameters are a bit generous. For Kelly, only 14 seconds remained. If we didn't expand our conditions beyond 15 seconds, our sample size would be only two.)

Granted, none of the four coaches in that scenario over the span trotted out the field goal unit – twice they punted, twice they went for it (both times, unsuccessfully). But it would seem that proclaiming “that’s not what you do THERE!” is a bit baseless, given that “there” is a place mostly unseen.

I get it. Best-case scenario: Henery does what Kelly and Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said he’d been doing throughout pregame and plants a seed through the uprights to even the score, 3-3. Worst-case scenario: Henery’s kick is blocked/short and is returned for a touchdown or, even worse, simply misses and the Cowboys muster a touchdown scoring drive and game-changing momentum.

(Going for it doesn't make much sense. Run, and you move only marginally closer and face basically the same field goal attempt. 60. 57. Tomato, tomato. Throw, and you have to trust Foles to not throw a pick/get strip sacked on a day where Foles was, um, less than trustworthy.)

So, people rationalized, Kelly should have punted, lived to fight another day. Even if that is the supposed opposite of Chip Kelly Football – if there is such a thing anymore.

That's kind of the point here: isn't that Kelly's schtick? Aggressiveness? Trusting his guys? Calculated risks? And outside of the lack of winning/franchise quarterbacking, hasn't the biggest complaint of the Chip Kelly Era been any real semblence to, you know, Chip Kelly? Or any discernible identity?

The underlying psychology is simple. The team looked bad in the first half. Against the Cowboys. Fans were upset. Henery's a punching bag. The call was questionable. It wasn’t mitigated with a make -- let alone a win.

But when you bash a call like that and play the "Charlie College" card, remember what you're really asking for: Chip Kelly to not be Chip Kelly, even in the slightest sense of his supposed nature.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @MKH973 Catch him every Saturday from 12-2 on 97.3 ESPN-FM.

Eagles 21, Vikings 10: Standout plays

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Eagles 21, Vikings 10: Standout plays

Reviewing the standout plays from the Eagles' 21-10 victory over the Vikings:

1. First quarter: Pick your turnover
There were six in the first half and five in the first quarter -- four coming on consecutive possessions in the first quarter.

Carson Wentz threw two interceptions. Brent Celek may have been interfered with on the first, but the second was all on Wentz. He dodged the rush and actually had some time, but forced it into triple coverage.

Sam Bradford had one. He was hit by Brandan Graham, and Rodney McLeod came down with the pick.

Wentz and Darren Sproles botched a snap, but the Eagles got the ball right back when Connor Barwin hit Bradford's arm just before it went forward and Malcolm Jenkins recovered. Jenkins returned it for a touchdown, but after a review he was ruled down because Rudolph had touched him.

In the second quarter, Rodney McLeod stripped Bradford, Beau Allen -- in for injured Bennie Logan -- recovered and it led to a field goal.

2. Second quarter: Josh Huff's 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown
After Blair Walsh scored the game's first points with a 48-yard field goal that barely made it over the crossbar, Huff caught the ensuing kickoff at the 2-yard line and bolted straight ahead. 

He ran through Walsh, and just when it looked like Vikings CB Marcus Sherels might catch him, Huff stepped on the gas and flipped into the end zone for his second career kickoff return for a score.

Doug Pederson then elected to take the successful PAT off the board after Vikings safety Harrison Smith was flagged for roughing the kicker, and Wentz gave the Eagles two more points with a sneak.

3. Second quarter: Going for it on 4th-and-2 at the Vikings' 44
With 1:21 left in the first half, the Eagles lined up to go for it and tried to draw the Vikings offside. When that didn't work, they called timeout ... and then went for it again. 

Wentz dropped the snap, picked it up and sprinted left for six yards and the first down.

The drive ended when Caleb Sturgis hit a 35-yard field goal that followed yet another odd sequence. Sturgis, with 15 seconds left in the half, attempted a field goal, but the Vikings called timeout to ice him. Pederson then sent out his offense, and Wentz threw incomplete to Jordan Matthews in the end zone before Sturgis returned to hit the field goal.

4. Third quarter: Mathews' 27-yard catch/run/hurdle
On 1st-and-10 at their own 45, Mathews took a short pass and sprinted 27 yards, ending it by hurdling a Vikings defender. It matched the game's longest play from scrimmage to that point (Vikings WR Adam Thielen had a 27-yard catch).

On the next play, Wentz dropped the snap but picked it up and tossed it to Sproles for a 19-yard gain to the Vikings' 9-yard line. The play resembled Sproles' 73-yard touchdown catch/run Week 3 against the Steelers.

After Wentz dropped yet another snap (his third of the game in addition to the botched handoff), he hit Dorial Green-Beckham, who barely crossed the goal line for the game's first offensive touchdown, a 5-yarder. 

5. Third quarter: Jordan Hicks bats ball in Bradford's face
This play didn't have a major overall impact but was just symbolic of how the Eagles' D besieged Bradford all afternoon. Hicks chased down Bradford and whacked the ball after Bradford tried to throw it away. 

The Eagles sacked Bradford six times, forced him to fumble four times and picked him off once. He completed 24 of 41 passes for 224 yards, a garbage-time TD, which helped boost his passer rating to 71.6.

6. Fourth quarter: Stopping Asiata on 4th-and-1 at the Eagles' 6-yard line
Matt Asiata's 29-yard run on 3rd-and-14 would have had this spot, but the drive ended when Allen and company stuffed Asiata here to get the Eagles the ball back.

7. Fourth quarter: Sherels' fumbled punt
The Eagles went nowhere in the following possession, and Donnie Jones got off a non-Donnie Jones-like punt that Sherels tried to catch on a bounce, didn't, and Trey Burton recovered it. 

The Eagles followed by driving 47 yards in nine plays for a 21-yard field goal that made it 21-3.

Instant Replay: Eagles 21, Vikings 10

The Associated Press

Instant Replay: Eagles 21, Vikings 10


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