When people get emotional, they tend to overreact in the moment. It’s natural for us as humans to do so. When something sad happens, we sometimes cry. When we’re overjoyed, we laugh. When someone does something to make us angry, we expect some kind of accountability from that person in the end. Eagles fans this season are the absolute description of the latter. To say it has been a disappointing 2015 season is a downright understatement. Especially for me who predicted this team would go 12-4 and win the Super Bowl. Yes, I’m shaking my head at myself.
Now heading into week 13 with a 4-7 record – even with a division win still actually possible – the majority of the fan base is full of fire and brimstone wrath and they want someone to be accountable for their disappointment. A great many are calling for Chip Kelly to be fired. But that’s not the answer.
Yes, he’s the guy who made the offseason moves and acquisitions. He has personnel control. But we have to be honest. Not all of his moves were terrible in free agency and in the draft. Some were not great. Some of the moves haven’t necessarily materialized into positives based on injuries. But fire Chip Kelly? Run him out of town? It seems like knee-jerk reactionary logic the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders have used for years. Where has that thought process gotten them over the past decade?
As the expectation level was at an unprecedented high during the preseason (hell, even Adam Schefter from ESPN predicted the Eagles to win the Super Bowl), no one could have foreseen the number of injuries to plague this team. Many players missed multiple games and some with season ending injuries.
QB Sam Bradford – concussion, shoulder
RB Ryan Mathews – concussion
LT Jason Peters – back, quad strain
WR Nelson Agholor – ankle
RG Andrew Gardner – foot
RB DeMarco Murray – hamstring
CB Nolan Carroll – ankle
LB Kiko Alonso – knee
LB Jordan Hicks – pectoral
K Cody Parkey – groin
DE Brandon Bair – groin
LB DeMeco Ryans – hamstring
DL Taylor Hart – shoulder
TE Zach Ertz – concussion
DE Cedric Thornton – broken hand
LB Mychal Kendricks – hamstring
Might this give a better picture that when this many starters and key depth players miss games, we’ll end up witnessing dreadful and unspeakable consequences? When you have this many key injuries, your season will not end up successful as initially planned. Therefore, my message to fellow fans: try your best to put emotions aside and understand the reality of these injuries. Let’s use some common sense. That’s why the team has faltered and struggled. These injuries are not Kelly’s fault.
With that being said, I won’t give Chip a spic and span clear pass. As I said, some of Kelly’s offseason moves were not great. We’re seeing the worst free agent move play out on a weekly basis with DeMarco Murray. Fans can try to analyze and wrap our brains around why he’s not hitting the holes quickly, but the truth is that Kelly made a huge misstep signing him to a 5-year deal. $40 million total over that time, and $18 million is guaranteed. Murray is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, and is slated to end the season with under 1,000 total yards. With Ryan Mathews having a much more productive season when touching the ball (5.7 yards per carry), I wonder if Kelly may attempt to trade Murray this coming offseason? That’s assuming Chip will be around, which I believe he will be.
The last thing this franchise needs is coaching and leadership turnover. Head coaches and personnel decision-makers make errors. It happens. Let’s look no further than a guy I never thought would still be around coaching and helping to make personnel decisions: Marvin Lewis. If you want to talk about a NFL coach who has been through the ups and downs, look no further than Lewis. Sprinkle some 4-12 seasons along with some 11-5 and 8-8 seasons and you have a casserole of good and bad decisions that come into play with each and every football cycle. The Bengals seem poised to get into the playoffs this year with a coach who, over 13-years, has a .542 win percentage. They’ve been in the playoffs for the past four seasons, but before that Lewis was on the hot-seat and his tenure was shaky at best. The Bengals ownership didn’t acted impulsively through the bad. They’ve been incredibly patient. Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Eagles, needs to be patient with Kelly, too.
Sometimes we get bad and disappointing years from our football teams and it really stinks. Sometimes we get so emotionally invested and “buy into the program.” And that’s ok because we’re fans. This year seems worse than any other because we thought the Eagles were finally getting the pendulum swinging in the other direction. The season hasn’t been a total and 100% freefall into the deepest, darkest depths of hell. They’re not 0-11 like the 2008 Detroit Lions. As I’ve said on the podcast show before, it’s been a retooling season. Of course, there will be hiccups along the way, which we need to keep in mind.