Five Takeaways From Eagles Week 1 Loss vs. Falcons

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5.) Have A Little Faith, Chip

Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly reacts on the sideline against the Atlanta Falcons in the their quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

For a coach touted as one of the more cavalier personalities in his field, Chip Kelly is developing an unnerving trend of playing it a bit too safe. Football has been played long enough to where compilations of statistics and scenarios can provide a logical answer to most of the games most pressing scenarios. That being said, at a certain point, one has to learn when it’s the right time to roll the dice. Kelly played it safe on Monday and it likely cost his team a win.

The Eagles were unable to establish any type of consistent running game against the Falcons. Though some of this was due in part to the fact that they were playing behind, there didn’t seem to be a concerted effort to feature that element of the offense from the opening snap. Following the game, Kelly cited the team’s inability to get a good push against the Atlanta front in the early stages, especially with their inside zone scheme.

It’s difficult to paint an accurate picture of a gameplan when a team falls behind the way the Eagles did. Things change when a deficit reaches double-digits and desperation sets in. Kelly may feature his stable of running backs from the opening snap against the Cowboys and the narrative of him being a run-first coach may come back into the forefront just like that. To have had just 16 rushing attempts in a week one game is inexplicable and indefensible. Even teams struggling with their run game will lean on it to keep the defense honest. Instead, Kelly allowed Sam Bradford to drop back and pass 52 times. Not necessarily a recipe for preserving a potential franchise quarterback.

Kelly has developed a tendency of using the ‘we weren’t getting a good push’ excuse to validate his play-calling. Though there is validity to not running into a swarm of defenders every play, the Eagles will have to feature DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Sproles in that respect this season to have success. It’s one thing to notice that the run game may not be having the desired effect that Kelly likely hoped for pregame. It’s another thing to abandon such a crucial element to the offense.

On a more micro-scale, Kelly’s decision to opt for a field goal try in the closing stages of the game in lieu of a 4th-and-short attempt will fall under the microscope as well. The decision Kelly ultimately made should not stand out as much as the confused struggled along the sideline that led up to it. The Eagles field goal unit was forced to rush their routine and ended up missing the potential go-ahead kick. Deciding to opt for the three-point attempt was not necessarily Kelly’s undoing Monday. The fact that he showed any hesitation after showing no faith in his run game up to that point just might be.

As Chip will probably realize when he dives into the Cowboys tape, special players tend to make un-remarkable units look good. The Eagles offensive line features multiple high-end talents. They aren’t the resource-enriched unit that Dallas boasts, but should be sufficient given the players running behind it. Murray and Mathews are physical runners capable of wearing down a defense if allowed to. Running the ball isn’t just about realizing the offensive line couldn’t’ provide a push in its first couple of series against a fired up Falcons team. One would hope Kelly loses the quick-trigger finger on abandoning the run and lets his runners do what they do.

Next: Sam Bradford Gets X-Ray After Loss

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