Last night Eagles fans were on the edge of their seat, clenching every muscle in their body..hoping and praying that the Eagles would deliver in Overtime. After winning the toss and electing to receive, fans were quick to take to Twitter and express their doubt in Sam Bradford, I for one now have to take a mannequin out to dinner as a result. (Photo’s incoming)
But Sam Bradford went 5-5 in overtime and led his team to an emphatic and much needed win over the Dallas Cowboys. The game should not have gone to overtime, it’s that simple..but the team delivered when the pressure was at its highest and were firing on all cylinders. So, is Chip Kelly a genius after all? Does this one game restore the trust lost earlier this year?
Let’s start with Sam Bradford. For one he now leads the NFL in touchdowns over 39 yards and ended with a 69% pass completion rate, throwing 25/36 for one touchdown and no interceptions. When he was signed to the Eagles at the start of the year, fans were quick to shake their heads at the move and claim we need a mobile Quarterback. A few weeks into Bradford’s first game in two years and the opinions were mainly the same, but the basics were there. He was signed for his accuracy, it’s that simple. His ability to make a perfect read and throw balls beautifully down the field despite being hit is something rare to find and this season it was also rare to see..until last night.
Bradford was playing his first game in two years in week one with a new team, under a new coach and in a new system. Over the weeks we have seen his leadership rise, from giving motivational talks in the showers to telling Jordan Matthews to “Win us the game” before that glorious final play. Bradford is becoming the Quarterback that we all knew he could be and that Chip envisioned him to be, it’s just taken a bit longer than expected.
The same goes for DeMarco Murray. Last years leading rusher was stagnant in the opening few games before finally getting his skates on and running the plays that worked for the birds, not for DeMarco Murray. The argument has long been that Mathews is the better suited back for this Offense and that may well be true..without going into stats (full article on this coming soon) it’s clear to see that Mathews is the punchier back, catching Defenses off guard and ploughing through holes for an average of 6.1 yards per carry. With fans claiming Mathews should be getting more snaps and the roles should switch, they’re failing to recognise one thing..this is what Chip Kelly wanted.
This is exactly how we predicted the season would go. Murray gets the Defense used to one style of running back before Mathews comes in for a few plays and punishes them for failing to recognise just how versatile he really is. That’s how this committee works. Darren Sproles lined up for a short stint last night, slamming his way up the middle for some major yards and two first downs. Why was he so effective? Because Dallas were lined up to stop a physical DeMarco Murray. They were not prepared for a rocket to tear though the holes as Dallas set the edge. This is exactly what this backfield is intended to do, thus enforcing Chip Kelly’s Offensive vision. Again, just like Bradford..it took a while to get rolling..
Then there’s the receivers. Jordan Matthews finally broke his curse of having seven drops in eight weeks and recorded ZERO against the Cowboys. 133 yards, catching 9/12 passes and scoring the game winning touchdown will almost certainly give him the confidence boost needed to go on and perform. This is the receiver we saw turn heads in his rookie season and his work ethic cannot be underestimated. The problem may well have been a mental one. There was a lot of heat and pressure on the young man’s shoulders to rise up as the teams number one, he was being targeted 60% of the time if not more in some games and that first drop in each game may well have dented his confidence and allowed doubt to take over…that appears to be a problem no more.
Cooper walked off with a leg injury, Agholor was absent but the team found a way to get the job done. Great route running, you could see balls being clenched MUCH closer to the body upon reception and expressing an ability to get open over the middle and catch defenses off guard with some deep passes. Again, this is the core we all knew Chip Kelly envisioned, it just needed that spark to ignite the flame.
Finally, there’s the Offensive Line that came into this game weakened and overlooked. With Jason peters sidelined and backups to backups starting for the Eagles, many expected the Cowboys to run rampant and force pressure on Bradford..but we quickly learned that Greg Hardy can’t actually beat men..
Lane Johnson put in an exceptional performance and Dennis Kelly stepped in to fill his shoes beautifully as Johnson covered for Peters. The Line has faced more criticism than any other unit this season but when it was at its weakest, when many expected it to fail, with no big name presence..it flourished. Chip Kelly doesn’t need stars, he needs heart..and that’s exactly what the line gave him last night as they rarely set a foot wrong.
This Eagles Offense is far from perfect but it’s the closest to the 2014 form we have seen so far. The confidence the team will take from this cannot be overlooked and it’s perhaps just a peek into what this team could be in the future. The pieces have all been there, but they never interlocked. The jigsaw is almost complete in Philadelphia and those who doubted Chip Kelly’s decisions are quickly finding out that this man knows a lot more than he lets on.