Offensive: Eagles offense held without a touchdown for second straight week

Offensive: Eagles offense held without a touchdown for second straight week

As bad as things got in Andy Reid’s final season in Philadelphia, never did the Eagles go two full games without scoring a touchdown on offense. Even without 80 percent of the starters along the offensive line, even with LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson missing in the end, whether it was Michael Vick or Nick Foles under center, Reid’s system always managed to result in some points.

Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense was leaving opposing defenses in the dust through much of the first six games this season, but all of a sudden the production has been ground to a halt. Don’t let the seven fool you in the 15-7 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday—that lone TD was scored by their special teams, a gift from a bad snap.

That means Philadelphia’s offense was good for just three points over the last two weeks at home against their two most-hated division rivals. Even that lonely field goal was largely a result of good field position from an interception.

You can’t lay the blame on the quarterbacks this week either. Michael Vick did his best to play, but the hamstring wouldn’t let him. The injury left the four-time Pro Bowler a sitting duck in the pocket, as he completed 6 of 9 passes for 31 yards with an interception and a sack before exiting the game in the second quarter. After the game, Chip admitted Vick aggravated the injury during the game.

The offense improved somewhat under Matt Barkley, but only marginally. The rookie managed to get the Eagles across midfield a handful of times, but none of those drives ended with points. Barkley completed 17 of 26 for 158 yards, was sacked three times, and threw a desperation interception on the Birds’ final possession.

Perhaps had Barkley been put in a better position to succeed, the outcome would have been different. Vick took the majority of the first-team reps in practice this week even though he was never 100 percent. Barkley may have benefited from the extra work, and instead was asked to come in and lead the offense from behind as a reserve.

It’s too bad, because the Eagles didn’t need exceptional quarterback play to win this game. The defense once again did a great job, holding the Giants to five field goals on the afternoon. Throw in the special teams miscue, and even just one touchdown and one three-pointer would’ve been enough to win.

Kelly’s in-game decisions were no better. When Barkley led the offense to New York’s 2-yard line on his first series, the head coach inexplicably called a timeout then called a passing play rather than try to pound LeSean McCoy in there. The fourth-round pick rolled left and was eventually chased down and stripped when he couldn’t find an open receiver, ending that scoring threat.

Chip Kelly was also incredibly inconsistent with his decisions on fourth down. At one point, the Eagles attempted to convert a 4th-and-9 rather than attempt a 50-yard field goal. Later in the game, they opted to punt from inside Giants territory rather than go on 4th and 4. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to any of it.

Same with the play-calling. For a coach who claims he’s not glued to any one system, Kelly can’t seem to find a way to hand the ball to Shady without the read-option concept coming into play. The Giants were not worried about Barkley—or Vick for that matter—taking off with the football at all. At one point on 3rd and 2, McCoy ran an outside zone read rather than diving straight ahead. The play was stuffed in the backfield.

McCoy finished with 15 carries for 48 yards for a 3.2 average. It’s the fourth time in five games the All-Pro back has found running lanes few and far between.

This is not the first time some of Kelly’s game-time decisions have come under scrutiny, but this entire week seems to have been mishandled from a coaching standpoint. From the situation with the quarterbacks, to play-calling that simply wasn’t working, it’s hard for anybody to make the claim he put his team in the best possible situation to win the game.

Not to run him out of town or anything. The Eagles didn’t score any touchdowns in games 2 and 3 of the Andy Reid era way back in 1999, and that worked out well for everybody. Chip Kelly needs to make some major adjustments though. Sorry, he probably doesn’t have the franchise quarterback to fit his system yet. The offense still needs to work somewhat.

With the Eagles’ loss, their record falls to 3-5 this season. Their losing streak at the Linc has now reached 10 games, which is a total embarrassment for this organization. Next week they’ll leave the unfriendly confines of home for Oakland, in a game I’m sure fans are all very excited to watch.

Even with Jordan Matthews' return, Paul Turner still in Eagles' plans

Even with Jordan Matthews' return, Paul Turner still in Eagles' plans

There were just two things on Paul Turner’s mind as he sprinted across the field early during the third quarter on Sunday, anticipating his first career NFL catch. 

Turner relayed them on Wednesday: 

1. “Make sure you get in [Carson Wentz’s] vision.” 

2. “You better catch this ball.” 

He did both. 

Turner, the 23-year-old undrafted receiver from Louisiana Tech, who has become a fan favorite since his stellar training camp and preseason, caught his first NFL pass during Sunday’s loss to the Bengals and it went for a big gain of 41 yards. 

On his first catch, the Eagles used the play-action to tilt the defense and Wentz threw a dart into a small window to hit Turner on an over route. Then, the rookie turned upfield with a ton of space in front of him. 

By the end of the afternoon, he caught six balls for 80 yards. It was the best receiving day for an Eagles rookie since Jordan Matthews in 2014 and was a better day than last year’s first-round pick, Nelson Agholor, has ever had. 

“It's always good to catch a few balls,” said Turner, who has been on the 53-man roster and active for just the past two games. “It gets your motor going and gets your confidence going. It just gets you more into the game and gets you excited. I think it does a lot for a person's confidence.”

Turner played 41 snaps against the Bengals in large part because Matthews was out with an ankle injury. Matthews predominantly plays in the slot, which is where head coach Doug Pederson and his coaching staff like Turner. 

“Honestly, that wasn't really my mindset going into the game,” Turner said when asked if he knew how much opportunity he’d have with Matthews out. “My mindset was to go in there and if my number was called, just go out there and make a play. Even if my number was called, just take care of my assignment and take care of the little details and I knew everything else would just take care of itself. I knew that if I got the ball, I'd be excited. But even if I didn't, just to go out there and just block, and give up myself for my teammates. That was my goal coming into the game and just try to stay focused on that.” 

It appears as though Turner has done enough to warrant keeping his playing time. As Matthews returned to practice on Wednesday — as a limited participant — Pederson said there will still be opportunities for Turner. 

“There are, there are,” Pederson said. “And these are things we talked about the last couple of days as a staff — getting Paul in there, even with Jordan coming back. I think it can be a benefit to the offense to have both of those guys ready to go.”

The Eagles still haven’t had more than four receivers active for any game this season. During the last two weeks when Turner has played, either Agholor or Matthews were out. 

“It means a lot that the coaching staff has confidence in me,” Turner said. “My biggest thing is just to come in here and just work each and every day in practice and just prepare in practice so I'm prepared when I go out there in the game.” 

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

OXON HILL, Md. -- Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen -- a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever -- that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

Rangers: Gomez reaches deal to stay with team
OXON HILL, Md. -- Carlos Gomez is staying with the Texas Rangers.

The outfielder agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract, a deal subject to a successful physical.

"Many of the objectives of the Rangers for Carlos go beyond one year," his agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday. "Certainly Carlos really enjoyed the team and the environment and feels he's got a great chance to win. So I think both parties' objectives were met by that deal."

Gomez, who turned 31 last weekend, figures to play center as general manager Jon Daniels structured an outfield that includes Shin-Soo Choo in right and Nomar Mazara in left. Ian Desmond left Wednesday for a $70 million, five-year deal with Colorado.

Gomez batted just .210 with five homers in 85 games this year for Houston and was released by the Astros in August. He signed with Texas and hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games. An All-Star in 2013 and '14 with Milwaukee, Gomez has a .257 average and 116 home runs in 10 big league seasons.

"J.D. was very clear from the onset about them wanting Carlos back, and we've had communication since the season's end to pursue that," Boras said. "So it was something in our minds and in their minds. It was just a constant dialogue."

AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

Red Sox: Sale not worried about being ace
BOSTON -- New Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale says he isn't worried that he might not be the ace of the pitching staff after being traded from the White Sox to Boston.

The 27-year-old lefty told reporters on Wednesday, "We play for a trophy, not a tag."

Sale was traded to the Red Sox on Tuesday at the baseball winter meetings. He was the top starting pitcher on the market, and the Red Sox gave up touted prospect Yoan Moncada as part of a package to land him.

Sale has been an All-Star for five straight seasons and finished in the top six of the Cy Young Award voting each time. He joins a staff that already includes 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and '12 winner David Price (see full story).