Eagles' O-line suffers big letdown against Chiefs

Eagles' O-line suffers big letdown against Chiefs

Kelly on Vick: 'I think Mike played OK'

September 21, 2013, 7:00 am
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Michael Vick was sacked five times in the Eagles' 26-16 loss to the Chiefs on Thursday night. (USA Today Images)

You usually don’t worry if Jason Kelce’s head is in the game.

You do when two of his snaps go AWOL, one that bounces off his butt cheek because he thought the quarterback was under center.

“That’s as bad as it gets for an offensive lineman,” Kelce said about his own rendition of the butt fumble after Thursday’s 26-16 loss to Kansas City, a game that was lost in the trenches for the Eagles, who were supposed to have that problem rectified.

“If there is one position where you get paid for consistency, it’s the offensive line. There is no excuse for that. I have to get better. The other one was a high snap. I have to go back and look at it.”

In general, Kelce handled his assignment against Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe, a 2012 first-round pick who carried 3.5 sacks into the game. But his butt fumble led to one of the Eagles’ five turnovers.

The offensive line, which was supposed to be a strong point with Jason Peters back at left tackle and rookie Lane Johnson anchoring the right side, suffered a letdown against the Chiefs, who dominated in the trench with their big, physical linemen.

Michael Vick, sacked just five times in his first two games, went down five more times and got knocked around a bunch more. He was pressured often, leading to his first two interceptions of the season.

“We gave up too much pressure [Thursday] night,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “A lot of times they're just rushing four and they're getting to the quarterback extremely quickly. You know, we're not even getting to the top of our drop and we're getting too much pressure on them. We can't put Mike in a lot of bad situations, and I think we've got to clean that up.”

Missed assignments happen from time to time, especially against teams that blitz from all corners and angles, but the Chiefs hardly went to the lab to craft their game plan. They won with brawn and intimidation.

“It was individual matchups. I don't think anybody came clean, but I think we got beat in some individual matchups with so many good guys,” Kelly added. “That's what this game is about. It's about execution. It comes down a lot of times to one‑on‑one battles and we did not win the one‑on‑one battles.”

Kelce accepted blame for the snaps and for the line’s overall sloppy effort. A very solemn right guard Todd Herremans, who lost some battles against Mike DeVito, pinned much of the offensive’s blame on the front five’s inability to execute.

“There might have been a couple [of miscues],” he said. “They’re a good defense. I don’t want to take anything away from them.”

One of the outside criticisms of Chip Kelly’s spread, up-tempo offense is that it drains the offensive linemen’s energy and isn’t built to protect the quarterback. Rarely are running backs or tight ends kept in to protect or chip, which forces the quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly or pay the price.

Chargers outside linebacker Dwight Freeney had said Vick wouldn’t make it through an entire season playing in Kelly’s system. Vick, who came out of the San Diego game last Sunday after getting body slammed, limped toward the sideline Thursday after a fourth-quarter fumble. He also was hobbling after the season opener against the Redskins.

After the Chiefs game, Vick said his linemen “need to be honest in terms of what needs to be done to help this football team move forward.”

“We rely on them and without them, nothing is possible,” he added. “We have to take full advantage of the things that we do well. If there is an opportunity to maybe back off a little bit, then maybe we have to, and I think one of the leaders of that group has to step up and say it.”

Asked about Vick’s comment, Kelce said the offensive scheme isn’t wearing down the linemen.

“I don’t think it is,” he said. “For the most part, every single play everybody knew who to block and everybody was on the same page. There’s just one incident for myself that had nothing to do with the tempo. It was just me being mentally not locked in for the play. I really don’t think the tempo played a role in it at all.” 

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