A Winning Recipe

Rich Schultz

The Eagles are on a three game winning streak. What's the secret to their success?

While there might not be a foolproof secret formula to winning games in the NFL, Eagles coach Chip Kelly has put together a successful recipe his past three outings. This recipe is fairly simple.

Kelly's first ingredient is the Eagles' weakest unit: the defense.

Philadelphia's defense is not a top defense by any means. The unit allows 23.6 points per game (16th) and 417.9 yards per game (31st). But although it may not be a vaunted defense such as those in Kansas City, Carolina, Seattle, or even Arizona, the Eagles defense is simply doing it's job. They are "good enough", which is all that can be expected. In an ideal world, they would be a shut down unit, but they simply don't have the talent for that. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis is making the most of what he has. The result is a defense that's the only unit in the NFL to surrender 21 points or less in their last seven games. "Bend but don't break."

The reality is that the Eagles defense doesn't need to be able to shut down offenses. All the defense has to do is put the game within reach. Then it's up to the other side of the ball to do their job. This is where the second ingredient of the winning recipe comes in: the Eagles offense. Philadelphia's offense ranks 4th in the NFL with 412.4 yards per game and 8th in points per game with 25.1. In comparison, the Eagles' offensive talent outranks the talent on defense. Of course, talent isn't the only factor. Kelly himself deserves a lot of credit for the scheming and play calling.

What makes life easier on the defense is the lack of turnovers the Eagles have had recently, especially from the quarterback position. Nick Foles has fumbled once but hasn't thrown an interception all year. This means the Eagles defense isn't being put in positions to defend a short field. Even betten than just not turning the ball over, Foles has been playing well since taking over at QB. It's absolutely critical to have premium performance from that position, and Chef Kelly made the right call by sticking with Foles for the rest of the season.

Let's not forget about special teams. They aren't a main ingredient, but they act as a seasoning to the final dish. The Eagles special team unit looked especially capable in the team's most recent win over Washington.

Combining these two main ingredients: (1) a bend-but-dont-break "good enough" defense, along with (2) a top flight offense, has been a successful recipe for Eagles victories in recent weeks. The defense does their job toby keeping the game within winning reach. The offense holds up their end of the bargain by putting up a lot of points on the board.

Admittedly, this recipe sounds oversimplified. It's obvious that any winning recipe involves the winning team scoring more points than they give up. But the trick here is how Kelly and the coaching staff is getting the most out of an unideal circumstance. Ideally, the defense would be a top ranked unit in the league along with the offense. But it's not, and the team knows that. Therefore, instead of trying to make the defense into something it's not, they have accepted it's shortcomings and have tried to work around it. Instead of relying on a scheme that requires superstar talents, they are making the most of what they have. What allows them to do conform to this recipe is the excellence of the offense. In a league where offense matters more than defense, though both still matter, this is a wise choice.

Facing tougher opponents will make this recipe even harder to complete. Kelly has done his job as the master chef, but it's up to the station chefs (Eagles players) to execute the recipe (gameplan) and produce the desired final meal (victory) moving forward.

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