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.

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Phillies

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Phillies

All week on Philly Sports Talk on CSN, we examine how our teams got to this point and where they are in the rebuilding process. 

Today, we take a look at the Phillies.

How did we get here?
The Phillies pretty clearly got here by holding onto the 2008 championship core several years too long, but they've also arrived at this point because of an inability to develop difference-making talent.

The Phils have some pieces, but they don't have a star or two to expedite the rebuild, nor do they have multiple solid, complete players like the Royals did.

Maikel Franco is a piece. Odubel Herrera is a piece. Aaron Altherr is a piece. But are any of them going to make multiple All-Star teams? Will any of them bat .300 or hit 30 homers in the middle of the order for a playoff team?

That's the big problem right now. Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff are valuable pitchers to have, but you're not going to make the playoffs if they're two of your top five players.

This season, 2017, was supposed to be the year the Phillies inched closer to .500. Pete Mackanin went out on a limb before the season saying he thought they could get there. Right now, they're on pace to win 58 games.

However, the thing to remember here is that teams don't necessarily improve in a straight line, going from 63 wins to 71 to 80 to 85 to 90-plus.

The 2014-15 Cubs jumped from 73 wins to 97.

The 2012-13 Pirates went from 79 to 94.

The 2012-13 Royals increased from 72 to 86.

So it can change in a year with the right mix of development, spending and luck. The Phillies have money to spend. Development and luck just haven't been on their side the last five years.

Are the Phillies on the right path back to prosperity?
It doesn't seem so, but the right things are happening below the major-league level. 

They're happening with first baseman Rhys Hoskins and catcher Jorge Alfaro, who could be batting fourth and fifth next opening day.

They're happening with Dylan Cozens, who looks like he'll provide 30-plus home run power, even if it might come with a .220 batting average and a ton of strikeouts.

And they're happening at the lower levels, where pitchers Sixto Sanchez and Seranthony Dominguez, outfielder Mickey Moniak and second baseman Scott Kingery all have an upside ranging from "very good" to "star."

The question is just: How much more of this waiting can Phillies fans take? That 2018 free-agent class is fun to think about, but it also means waiting out one more season with a team in the bottom 10 in terms of true talent.

Shortening overtime in the NFL is stupid

Shortening overtime in the NFL is stupid

Like when sporting events finish in a tie? Of course you do. That’s why the NHL scrapped ties in favor of a skills competition back in 2005, or why Major League Baseball awarded home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning side of an exhibition game for 14 years. Yeah, folks love ties.

Well, if you’re the type who enjoys a good tie or a long smooch with your sister, the NFL has a rule change made just for you. Because the end result of reducing overtime from 15 minutes to 10 during the regular season will inevitably be more contests that end without deciding a winner.

Why? The league offered some hollow-sounding excuse built around player safety and competitive balance. Teams that play an additional five minutes in the extra period, then turn around and play again on a short week -- think Monday to Sunday, or worse, Sunday to Thursday -- are at a disadvantage, while the health of the players are at greater risk.

Whether there was any tangible evidence five more minutes can really have a serious effect on the following week is unclear. It sure doesn’t seem like that would make a world of difference. The only thing we can say for certain is the end result will be more ties.

Even under the previous rule, the NFL managed to have two games end in ties in 2016, which are two more than anybody would prefer. Yet, four more games went deeper than 10 minutes into overtime, according to Jonathan Jones for Sports Illustrated, and while not all were necessarily guaranteed to finish in a tie under the change, the likelihood obviously increases.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say there were two more ties in ’16, bringing the total to four. That still isn’t a huge number, but even two is atypical. Most years, there are one, or none at all. Now, the frequency is guaranteed to increase.

Does that matter? Maybe not. A few extra ties are unlikely to turn off viewers. In fact, a case can be made overtime will be more exciting with the clock coming into play more often. Ties also lead to some interesting situations in the standings, and can inject slightly more intrigue into playoff races late in the year.

None of which is going to change the fact that ties are inherently a bad thing and people despise them. The NHL and MLB both came up with rule changes that would avoid ties, each of which had a major impact on the very landscape of the sports. Yet, while competitors are getting away from ties, the NFL has decided to invite more.

Again, it’s worth pointing out the reasoning seems bogus. If competitive balance and player safety are issues, teams wouldn’t have to turn around and play on Thursday four days after a Sunday game in the first place.

The NFL’s overtime rules were already imperfect. Shortening the length of the period is unlikely to fix inherent problems with the sudden-death system -- namely a team winning the game on the possession immediately following the coin flip. Instead, we simply have another round of valid complaints to look forward to on the horizon.