Eagles cleaned up Chip Kelly’s mess in a hurry, and other Week Nine thoughts

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It wasn’t even two years ago that the Eagles fired Chip Kelly, an alleged offensive guru who had saddled them with a bunch of overpaid and underperforming offensive players. It’s remarkable how quickly they’ve cleaned up his mess.

Philadelphia, which put up 51 points on a very good Denver defense on Sunday, is now 8-1 and the best team in the NFL. That’s mostly due to its stellar offense, and what’s remarkable about that offense is how completely it has been rebuilt since the departure of Kelly, who spent three years as the Eagles’ coach and also had final say over personnel in his final year. Bad personnel moves can put a team in a salary cap hole that takes a long time to dig out of, but Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman and coach Doug Pederson have done it quickly.

The big move, of course, was at quarterback. Not everyone was sold on Carson Wentz coming out of North Dakota State last year, but the Eagles were. They traded two of Kelly’s favorite defensive players, Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell, to move up in the first round of the draft, then traded that first-round pick, another first-round pick, a second-round pick and a third-round pick to Cleveland to get the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. That’s the pick they used to get Wentz.

That was a lot to give up, and if it hadn’t worked out it would have crippled the franchise. But, oh, my, has it worked out. Wentz threw four touchdown passes yesterday and has an NFL-high 23 touchdowns on the season, and he’s now the league’s leading MVP candidate.

Drafting Wentz angered Sam Bradford, Kelly’s hand-picked quarterback whom the current regime re-signed a month before they drafted Wentz. But the Eagles knew what they were doing: They were patient with Bradford and committed to him publicly until the opportunity to trade him arose, at which point they unloaded him on the Vikings for a first-round pick and a fourth-round pick. Getting those picks for Bradford was a key part of the Eagles’ ability to replenish their roster despite giving up so much for Wentz.

But there’s much more to the Eagles’ rebuilt offense than just drafting Wentz. The top wide receiver on Kelly’s 2015 Eagles was Jordan Matthews, whom the Eagles traded to Buffalo this year. The Eagles could make that move because they added Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith this year. Kelly also had Josh Huff, Riley Cooper and Miles Austin at wide receiver, all of whom are long gone.

At running back Kelly poured big money into DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews. They’re gone now, replaced by LeGarrette Blount, Wendall Smallwood, Corey Clement and the newly arrived Jay Ajayi, who ran for a 46-yard touchdown in his first game as an Eagle yesterday.

Basically, this offense looks nothing like the offense Chip Kelly left behind — and the rebuilt offense looks ready to take Philadelphia to a Super Bowl. A team can rebuild in a hurry. As long as it finds the right quarterback.

Here are my other Week Nine thoughts:

Let Cam Newton do what he does best. Newton had a season-high 86 rushing yards as the Panthers beat the Falcons on Sunday, and I think that’s the kind of game the Panthers need from him every week. Over the last couple of years the Panthers’ offense often seemed to take away what makes Newton special, which is his great athletic ability. Newton finished last season with career lows in carries (90), rushing yards (359) and yards per carry (4.0). This year Newton is on pace to improve on all three of those stats and get back up over 600 rushing yards, where he was in his 2015 MVP season. The Panthers need to make opposing defenses fear Newton beating them with both his arm and his legs.

The Rams have turned into a juggernaut. It’s hard to believe this is the same Los Angeles team that had one of the most putrid offenses in the league last year. This year’s Rams, who beat the Giants 51-17 yesterday, are a touchdown-scoring machine. Jared Goff threw four touchdown passes yesterday, while Todd Gurley ran for two touchdowns. The Rams have already scored 40 or more points three times in eight games this season. Over the last 10 years before this season, the Rams scored 40 or more points only twice in 160 games.

It’s time for NFL referees to get smart about ejecting players. Refs are sometimes too hesitant to throw a player out of a game — as was the case yesterday with Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, who certainly should have been kicked out for his cheap shot at Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. But refs are also sometimes too quick to eject a player just for being involved in an altercation that he didn’t start, as was the case yesterday with Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey yesterday. Ramsey shoved Bengals receiver A.J. Green after a play, but that kind of stuff goes on all the time. What Green did — taking Ramsey to the ground, punching him and choking him — is far, far outside the bounds of what’s acceptable. By ejecting both Ramsey and Green, the officials were suggesting that they were equally at fault. In reality, Green was far more at fault. The officials need to get more consistent about who they eject and when and why, and if necessary the replay assistant should tell them if they missed something. NFL refs are currently missing too much.

The drop-off from Deshaun Watson to Tom Savage is incredible. The Texans were the highest-scoring team in the league with Watson at quarterback. Then Watson got hurt and Savage started on Sunday, and the Texans lost to the Colts while scoring just 14 points — seven of which came from the defense returning an interception for a touchdown. Here’s all you need to know about Watson and Savage: Watson has thrown 204 passes in his career, and he has 19 touchdowns. Savage has thrown 149 passes in his career, and he has one touchdown.

John Elway can’t identify a quarterback. The Broncos went back to Brock Osweiler yesterday, and it was a mess. And Elway deserves a big part of the blame for that mess. Elway is the one who drafted Osweiler in the second round in 2012 — when the next quarterback off the board was Russell Wilson. Elway is also the one who used a first-round pick on Paxton Lynch last year. Elway deserves credit for bringing a lot of defensive talent to Denver, but the offense has turned into a disaster because Elway hasn’t been able to acquire a quarterback. Now the 2017 season looks just about lost, and the question is whether Elway will be able to find a quarterback in 2018.

37 responses to “Eagles cleaned up Chip Kelly’s mess in a hurry, and other Week Nine thoughts

  1. Shoving a WR in the back after the play is over is normal? The instigator rule was put in place to punish the punks who pull this stuff all game long trying to get an advantage. It’s for the Ramsey’s and Mitchell’s of the NFL who’s talent is limited.

  2. You mean it doesn’t take a 5-10-15 year rebuild to get a team competitive? That’s what our front office tries to sell us on at every press conference.

  3. “Kelly also had Josh Huff, Riley Cooper and Miles Austin at wide receiver“

    Thus all you needed to know about Chip Kelly’s General Manager’s skills.

  4. Cousins to Denver would be perfect. The Broncos will not have time to draft and try to groom another QB. Their receiving talents are being wasted and their defensive efforts are being wasted. They need a veteran who can contribute immediately.

    Cousins would also be a great fit in Jacksonville. Both teams have good to great defenses and an offense that only needs a good QB…I would like to see if the offensive line situation in Denver can be solved by a QB who makes quick decisions on his passes. In DC everyone was saying the offensive line was bad because RG3 kept getting sacked but as soon as Kirk got under center the sacks drastically reduced because he was going through his reads and getting the ball out much quicker than Griffin.

  5. “Ramsey shoved Bengals receiver A.J. Green after a play, but that kind of stuff goes on all the time.” How often do we bemoan the fact that “the second guy to react gets punished”? Here, Ramsey took a blatant cheap shot after the whistle when Green had let up. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen all the time. And fortunately, the refs decided to punish the guy who started it.

  6. Carson Wentz can clean up a lot of messes. He’s the best QB in the NFL, and that’s a huge advantage every Sunday. Just watch what this kid does every week. You can’t teach that.

  7. The phrase “Chip Kelly” is still punishable by extreme snowballing within Philadelphia city limits. That said, at least he brought us Darren Sproles who is one of my all-time favorite Eagles! DS definitely deserves recognition for his contributions to the team’s current success despite his injuries. #DS43in2018

  8. Birds need to play dallas twice, rams, seattle, and oakland. Ill wait til this games are over to crown them

  9. Others have commented, but I am also completely fine with the refs tossing Ramsey from the game as the instigator. That was not a gentle or casual shove, he knocked Green onto the ground after the whistle and could have injured him. Green was out of line too, but Ramsey started the nonsense and deserved to get tossed.

  10. Next 3 road games are @Dallas, @Seattle and @LA Rams
    Those are games to look forward to fans!
    1. @Dallas two weeks from now – hopefully no Zeke and their receivers just got banged up and Philly may have Darby back by then, and Eagles off the bye should help
    Can’t comment anymore in the future too many injuries could happen by then
    Us Eagle Phans could not be happier but we r always waiting for disaster to strike
    Fly Fly!

  11. The potential games between Philly, Saints, Rams and Dallas are what the NFL is about. Guess we have to wait for playoffs for that Saint matchup. Believing the remaining Eagle schudle will prevent them from playoffs is nieve. Anything could happen but barring loseing Wentz cannot immagine Philly not #1 seed.

    Personally beating Dallas makes any season a success.

  12. Here’s an easy rule when drafting, if the Broncos like a quarterback, then draft the next or another quarterback. Elway liked Osweiler going into the draft, so they missed out on Russell Wilson. Elway liked Lynch so much he traded up to get this guy, then the Cowboys get Dak Prescott in the 4th round. Just determine who the Broncos like, then get the next best guy.

  13. rockymountaingumbo says:
    November 6, 2017 at 8:44 am
    “The Rams have turned into a juggernaut.” Just proves how bad a coach Jeff Fisher is

    ————————

    There are no words for how bad a coach Jeff Fisher was but he kept expectations low and consistently met them. On the plus side, if he wasn’t so bad, you wouldn’t have your QB.

    That whole “I have experience moving a team” thing must’ve saved his job several times.

  14. No one in the front office likes Howie Roseman (except his hired yes en like Alec Halaby), but some of the young executives deserve credit.Like Mike Bradway, Trey Brown, Alan Wolking. Mrs too the foundation was laid before Joe and his constituents arrived

  15. Where are all the talking heads who claimed Chip Kelly was such a “genius?” The networks and message boards were full of them……..

  16. Ramsey should not have been ejected. That’s what a 15 yard late hit penalty is for, he shoved Green. It wasn’t flagrant, it was a shove.

    Evans should have been ejected, as should have Jameis. Evans for a flagrant late hit, Jameis for a player on the sideline entering the field of play to contact a player from the other team and also the Saints player who came in late and hit Evans.
    The only way you stop these stupid little plays from turning into what you saw yesterday is ejecting players for flagrant hits. Shoves aren’t flagrant.
    Just like the Alonso hit last week. Kiko, Jensen, Harbaugh and I believe should Suh have all been tossed.

  17. It’s for the Ramsey’s and Mitchell’s of the NFL who’s talent is limited.
    —-

    HAHAHAHAHAHA . Someone obviously didn’t see Ramsey lock down AJ Green throughout the first half. Ramsey is 100% in the conversation for best CB in the league, so don’t take that away from him just because he’s chippy.

  18. Ramsey got a lot of haters in here lol
    Flag the dude for a shove, sure… but an ejection after getting mauled by a pissed off WR who is already past his prime on a team going down the toilet?

    Whatever… check the score board.

    🙂

  19. re getting Wentz, trading up…
    “That was a lot to give up, and if it hadn’t worked out it would have crippled the franchise. But, oh, my, has it worked out.”

    my oh my has it ever worked out! Gonna be a great Eagles team for a while now. CBs were a glaring weakness now with

  20. now with Darby and sidney jones coming back soon, all the young CB’s we have too, is a great position group we have! LOTS of depth too!
    Great work Joe, Howie, Doug and Gym Shortz!
    FLY EAGLES FLY!

  21. This season’s Eagles are last season’s Cowboys lol — don’t expect them to get past the Saints, Seahawks, Panthers or Cowboys in post-season, which is a whole-different-other world lol

  22. The Super Bowl entry from the NFC will probably be the team with the healthy quarterback in the playoffs. Let’s hope Carson doesn’t have a serious injury.

  23. Not to diminish what the Eagles are doing but they have played a relatively soft schedule up till now and are probably the least injured team. They are well coached and have that swagger all teams wish to have. If they can keep it together and avoid major injuries they’ll be good for quite some time.

  24. mongolchuck says:
    November 6, 2017 at 10:34 pm
    Not to diminish what the Eagles are doing but they have played a relatively soft schedule up till now and are probably the least injured team.
    ———————————————
    For real?
    OT Jason Peters
    LB Jordan Hicks
    RB Darren Sproles
    CB Ronald Darby

    All starters (or close, as Sproles is), all Pro Bowl caliber players, and all gone for significant chunks of time.

  25. pft_worse_mods_ever!!! says:
    November 6, 2017 at 6:40 am
    a “very good” defense does not give up 51 points – EVER!
    donkeys defense are complete frauds!
    —————————————

    The great 2000 Ravens defense surrendered nearly a quarter of the opponents points scored for the entire season in week 2 to a lousy Jacksonville team. Stuff happens. Denver D had a bad week against a very good opponent.

  26. I think where the Eagles have made big strides outside of quarterback is in depth. For injuries they lost:

    #1 OL – Peters (done for year)
    #1 LB – Hicks (done for year)
    #1 CB – Darby (returning soon)
    #1 DT – Cox (was out 2 games and returned)
    Darren Sproles, they’re best Receiving Back – (done for year)

    However, the next-man-up has kept them going. Big V has subbed well for Peters so far (credit the running game for that) and an incredible front four on defense has made the CBs and LBs look better.

    The recipe was solving the QB question, finding a running game, and putting together a pass rush that can get there with 4 guys, while focusing on depth. That’s championship level football. I hope they can finish.

  27. There’s dark humor in the fact that similar articles were written when Chip took that 4-12 team Andy Reid left him and won 10 games 2 years in a row.

    Doug Peterson, of course, has a legit QB and much more staying power, especially having been groomed by Andy Reid. But still, there’s a little irony there if you want it.

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