Chip Kelly's new players flopped in their debut game with Eagles
PHILADELPHIA — Chip Kelly's collection of new players flopped in their debut.
Sam Bradford had 336 yards passing but threw two interceptions. Reigning NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray ran for 9 yards. Ryan Mathews ran for 4. Byron Maxwell got beat repeatedly by Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Still, the Philadelphia Eagles had a chance to win their opener after rallying from a 17-point halftime deficit. But Pro Bowl kicker Cody Parkey missed a 44-yard field goal late in the game and Jordan Mathews let a pass go through his hands for an interception to seal a 26-24 loss at Atlanta on Monday night.
"We didn't play our best game," Murray said. "We will learn from it, correct it and move forward."
The Eagles breezed through the preseason, going 3-1 against teams that don't game plan for them. Bradford played only four series in two games and led the offense to four touchdowns. Playing his first regular-season game in 23 months, he looked rusty in the first half against the Falcons.
Bradford had a tough time getting into a rhythm behind an offense line that struggled. The Eagles went three-and-out three times in the first half, gained only 125 yards and trailed 20-3 at halftime.
Bradford got going in the third quarter when the Eagles turned away from trying to run the ball and took the underneath passes the Falcons gave them. Bradford completed 21 of 25 passes in the second half.
"I think the difference between the first half and the second half is that we were much more efficient on first down in the second half," Bradford said. "We got things going and once we got things rolling we kept it that way."
With Murray, Mathews and Darren Sproles in the backfield, the Eagles were expected to dominate on the ground. But Atlanta's defense held the trio to 63 yards, 50 for Sproles. So, the run-pass ratio was heavily unbalanced. The Eagles threw on 76.5 percent of their plays.
"We're concerned with moving the football so whether we rush it for 399 yards or pass it for 399 yards or whatever, getting it in the end zone is our concern and not how we get it there," Kelly said.
The Eagles (0-1) quickly shift their attention to Dallas (1-0). The defending NFC East champions visit Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday minus star receiver Dez Bryant.
The Eagles routed the Cowboys on the road on Thanksgiving Day last year to improve to 9-3 and take control of the division. But they went 1-3 down the stretch, including a home loss to Dallas.
Here's some other news from Kelly's Tuesday news conference:
SUPPORTING CODY: Kelly won't be auditioning any kickers this week despite Parkey's recent struggles. Parkey was 32 of 36 last year, but two of those misses came in a loss at Washington in Week 16 that eliminated the Eagles from playoff contention. He was 5 of 7 in the preseason and also missed an extra point, but has been hampered by a groin injury.
"I have total confidence in Cody," Kelly said. "He was a Pro Bowl kicker last year. I think he's an outstanding kicker."
MAXWELL'S STRUGGLES: The Eagles signed Maxwell to a $63 million contract in free agency to solidify a poor secondary. But he was targeted 11 times by Matt Ryan and allowed 10 catches for 179 yards.
"Just inconsistencies in techniques," Kelly said. "I think Byron would be the first one to tell you that. When he was locked up in technique, he did a really good job. When he got beat, you can look at where he was from a technical standpoint."