Chip Kelly should have called timeout on the Eagles’ last drive Sunday to keep Michael Vick from missing a down.
He also left too much time on the clock for San Diego’s last drive by running his offense so quickly.
These truths aren’t critiques from a cynical sports writer or rants from ticked-off fans. They came straight from the head coach’s mouth Monday, less than 24 hours after the Chargers outlasted the Eagles 33-30 in the Linc opener to hand Kelly his first NFL loss.
With the Eagles down by three at the San Diego 14-yard line with 2:09 to play, Vick was body-slammed to the ground by Chargers lineman Jarius Wynn after an incomplete pass to Brent Celek. Vick came out of the game for Nick Foles, who threw an incomplete pass on second down to DeSean Jackson in the end zone.
Kelly could have called timeout to get Vick back in the game without losing a down. After the game, Kelly said he didn’t have that option, but the NFL rule book clearly states that he did.
“That’s on me,” Kelly said. “I didn’t think we could [call timeout.] I should have asked.”
Vick had already thrown two touchdowns, ran for another and eclipsed the 400-yard passing mark. He came back for third down and threw incomplete to Jason Avant, setting up Alex Henery’s game-tying field goal.
Asked if the rulebook is hard for a first-year head coach to have absorbed from the start, Kelly dismissed the suggestion that rookie coaches are further behind experienced ones in terms of knowing and understanding NFL protocol.
“I think it's difficult for anybody to be familiar with any rule because the rule book is so thick,” he said.
Kelly, whom LeSean McCoy called an offensive genius last week, also copped to poor time management on the last drive. Instead of slowing down the pace to take more time off the clock, he went no huddle and snapped the ball with plenty of ticks left on the play clock.
But the Eagles didn’t get the ball into the end zone and Henery’s make left the Chargers with 1:45 to get into field-goal range for Nick Novak, who won the game on a 46-yarder.
“Yeah, when you look at in hindsight, we didn’t score,” he said. “We kicked a field goal, so it was tied. We wanted to try to make them score a touchdown and go up four and then make them have to drive the length of the field at that point in time. So, obviously, when you look back it, we probably should have ran the clock down.”
In Kelly’s first two games, a win against the Redskins followed by Sunday’s loss, his lack of NFL experience has been an issue. Against Washington, Kelly admitted to taking his foot off the gas too quickly after the Eagles went up by 26 early in the third. The Redskins rallied for 20 unanswered points and positioned themselves to go for the win if they had recovered a last-gasp onside kick.
Against the Chargers, a game with a completely different tone and complexion, Kelly kept his foot on the pedal at the wrong time. The Chargers had picked apart his defense all game long.
It seemed like a forgone conclusion that they’d score when Philip Rivers jogged onto the field at the San Diego 21 with 105 seconds to play. Seven seconds still remained after Novak’s attempt sailed through the uprights.
Kelly practices are up tempo all the time, but he insisted that his play calling and his offensive execution are adaptable to fit the situation.
“It’s not difficult at all,” he said. “That was just my decision, my decision totally. I thought we were going to score [a touchdown] so I called a play I thought we were going to score on.”