Chip Kelly restores order to Eagles in debut

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Chip Kelly restores order to Eagles in debut

September 9, 2013, 11:45 pm
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Chip Kelly guided LeSean McCoy and the Eagles to a 33-27 win over the Redskins on Monday night. (USA Today Images)

LANDOVER, Md. -- Just go back and think what a wreck the Eagles were just eight months ago.

The entire franchise was a disaster. Top to bottom.

They stumbled off the field at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 30, 42-7 losers to the Giants.

Another embarrassment in a season full of them.

That Giants loss that mercifully ended the 2012 season was their 11th loss in 12 games and their sixth loss by two or more touchdowns in a 10-game span.

They were getting blown out on a weekly basis. Really, it looked hopeless.

That was one of the lowest points in the history of a franchise that goes back to 1933.

And this was their very next game (see story).

In the span of eight months, Chip Kelly has transformed a dead franchise into the hottest thing in the NFL.

Virtually overnight in football terms.

Think back to last year.

Think what a nightmare last year was.

It was excruciating watching this team. And it was such a complete catastrophe it was tough to imagine, even with the right hire as head coach and a great draft and good free agent signings, that the Eagles would be able to turn things around immediately.

The secondary was a joke. DeSean Jackson’s career appeared to be fading. They didn’t have enough linebackers. Nick Foles looked OK, but they didn’t have a quarterback. The defensive line was too young. They couldn’t stop the run. Who would get the sacks? The turnovers? The big plays?

Yeah, so much for all that.

OK, only one game. Only one win. We can’t get too carried away with the Eagles’ 33-27 win over the Redskins Monday night at FedEx Field, and we won’t (see Instant Replay). Coaches in the NFL have historically found ways to eventually catch up to innovation, and it’ll be up to Kelly to adjust back.

But wow … what a start.

This wasn’t Colorado that Kelly and his team were beating up on. This wasn’t Virginia Tech or Washington State.

This was the defending NFC East-champion Redskins, who beat the Eagles by 25 points here last November. And the Eagles battered them and their two-time Super Bowl-champion head coach in Kelly’s first game.

That’s a 38-point turnaround from a year ago.

Sure, Robert Griffin III was rusty, but defensive coordinator Billy Davis knew exactly how to go after a rusty RG3 with his blitzing linebackers and aggressive corners. Sure, the Redskins fell behind and never could get 1,600-yard runner Alfred Morris going. But the Eagles never let Morris get going, holding him to under 4.0 yards a pop. Sure, it was just one game, but the Eagles didn’t have one game like this last year.

And let’s be honest. If the Eagles fell behind 7-0 last year on a 75-yard fumble return 2½ minutes into the game, they would have fallen to pieces.

This team? After DeAngelo Hall’s 75-yard TD gave the Redskins a 7-0 start, the Eagles scored the next 33 points.

Kelly has done the impossible and turned one of the worst teams in the NFL -- outscored by 164 points last year, 1-11 the last 12 weeks of the season -- into a disciplined, smart, physical, aggressive group, and he’s done it faster than any of us could have imagined.

Does this mean they’re going to the playoffs? Who knows? After Monday night and after watching the Cowboys-Giants game, it’s not that farfetched.

But what we do know is that Kelly has restored order to the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s turned an embarrassment into a competitive team.

The Eagles are fun to watch. It’s been a while since any of us could say that.

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