Mosher's Mailbag: Challenges hurting Eagles?

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Mosher's Mailbag: Challenges hurting Eagles?

Eagle Eye: Biggest disappointments of season

November 24, 2013, 9:00 am
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Chip Kelly's coaching staff has received a fair share of scrutiny for its handling of challenges in recent weeks. (AP)

Each week throughout the season I answer Eagles questions from my Twitter timeline and e-mail. In this week’s edition of “Mosher’s Mailbag,” I tackle questions about Chip Kelly’s coaching, DeMeco Ryans’ potential Pro Bowl berth and whether backup linebacker Najee Goode is pushing to supplant Mychal Kendricks.

Let’s get it started:

Q. I see improvement needed in time management and stopping 3rd-and-longs on D. What would you add to that list?

- Philly Don (@dwr8810)

A. Don, I would add challenge management to that list. I’m not sure why this has been such a problematic area for the coaching staff, but the Eagles really dropped the ball on two potential challenges against Washington, and I’d bet my life (well, not really) that one definitely would have been reversed.

As I mentioned in Monday’s film review story, there was an obvious challenge on an Alfred Morris nine-yard run along the left sideline in the first quarter. Replays showed that Morris had at least one, and probably both, feet out of bounds near the line of scrimmage. The Redskins knew it, too. They hurried their next play to limit the Eagles’ time to review the play upstairs. That one almost certainly would have come back. Same with the slant to Riley Cooper at the goal, which was ruled a three-yard catch instead of a touchdown.

In cases like those, I get the feeling that Kelly would rather not have his up-tempo offense slowed down by a challengeable play, a risky mentality that could backfire at some point.

Q. What do you think about [DeMeco] Ryans and his resurgent year?

- Richard Hartles (@NZSportsFan)

A. Rich, every inside linebacker’s best friends are the guys up front. Ryans has played really well, but much of the reason why he’s able to make tackles and get to ball carriers so quickly is because Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton and Bennie Logan are controlling the line of scrimmage. Those three are consistently pushing offensive linemen back, forcing running backs into early cutbacks or into gaps where Ryans can make the one-on-one tackle. And Ryans has been superb at tackling. Remember how bad this team was over the past two years at making just simple tackles? They’re much more fundamentally sound. Ryans is still an OK cover guy, but in blitzes and at the point of attack, he’s been one of the league’s best at making plays. I think he’s having a Pro Bowl season.

Q. Any chance [Najee] Goode keeps the starting job?

- Dean Gamber (@dgamber19)

A. Dean, Goode has done a nice job filling in for Mychal Kendricks, but there’s no reason to bench Kendricks, who had been playing really well before injuring his knee against the Packers. Kendricks had led the team in tackles over a three-game span entering the Green Bay game and may have played the best game of his career the week before against Oakland.

Goode really impressed when he relieved Kendricks against the Packers, but he didn’t have a great game against the Redskins. He lunged a lot and missed several tackles around the line of scrimmage. He’s a good backup for this team. Kendricks is a high second-round pick in his second season, and although he can be inconsistent, he shouldn’t lose his job to an injury.

Send questions for the next mailbag to gmosher@comastsportsnet.com or through Twitter (@GeoffMosherCSN).