Defiant Chip Kelly isn't changing anything despite Eagles' 1-3 start
PHILADELPHIA — A defiant Chip Kelly defended his coaching strategy and personnel decisions while blaming a 1-3 start on poor execution.
The Philadelphia Eagles began the season with Super Bowl aspirations, but are last in the NFC East. They can still bounce back in a division where the other three teams are each 2-2, but they hardly look like a legitimate playoff contender.
"I think we have the right guys, and we're doing the right things," Kelly said Monday, a day after a 23-20 loss at Washington. "We need to execute the plays better. That's what we need to do."
Critics are hammering Kelly for his risky, headline-grabbing offseason moves, and many are questioning his up-tempo offense that leaves the defense on the field far too long. Kirk Cousins led the Redskins on a 15-play, 90-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter against a defense that look tired after being on the field two-thirds of the game.
But Kelly sees a team that's a couple plays from 3-1.
Cody Parkey missed a fourth-quarter field goal in a 26-24 loss at Atlanta in Week 1. Caleb Sturgis missed a 33-yard field goal and an extra point in the loss to Washington.
"You hit two kicks and we are sitting here 3-1 and everybody's happy," Kelly said. "There's no difference. It's that you either make plays or you don't make plays. And if you're not making plays, you have to continue to work on them so you can make the plays."
The Eagles have played awful halves in each game. They've been outscored 39-3 in the first half of their three losses and 10-0 in the second half of their only win.
Yet the fact the offense has played four decent halves out of eight gives Kelly reason for optimism.
"I've seen us move the ball," he said. "So I have confidence in this group. We just have to do it on a more consistent basis."
Kelly shrugged off DeMarco Murray's complaint about not getting enough carries. Murray, one of Philadelphia's expensive offseason additions, hasn't come close to matching his All-Pro performance in Dallas last year. He has 47 yards rushing on 29 carries in three games. Take out a 30-yard run against the Redskins and he has 17 yards on 28 other attempts.
"I want all of our guys at the running back, wide receiver spot to want the football," Kelly said. "I don't think you want someone that says, 'I don't want the ball more.' It's what you're looking for."
One bright side against the Redskins was the emergence of the deep passing game. Sam Bradford threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper and a 39-yard TD pass to Miles Austin. He also completed passes of 45 yards to Nelson Agholor and 30 yards to Jordan Matthews. His longest pass in the first three games with 32 yards.
"Sam is taking what the defense gives us," Kelly said. "And in those situations, the defense gave us an opportunity to throw the ball over the top, and when they did that, we took advantage of it."
As for Sturgis, he's not losing his job after one game. Sturgis was signed last week after Parkey went on injured reserve. Kelly considers him the best available option.
"I think the state of kicking in the league right now is not very good," Kelly said. "In terms of what's available out there, we are going to stick with Caleb."