The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-1 after suffering their first defeat to the San Francisco 49ers. There is a lot to discuss.
So with that said, here are 10 thoughts from the Eagles' exhausting 26-21 road loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
1) Chip Kelly is not perfect
Chip Kelly really did not have his best game. The play-calling wasn't great. Too often did the Eagles run unsuccessfully only to find themselves in third-and-long. Then it was fourth down and the team had to punt. Kelly made a questionable decision to accept an offensive pass interference penalty on the 49ers' that made it 3rd-and-13. San Francisco would go on to convert it. The 49ers ended up only getting a field goal there anyway but Kelly could have just opted to decline the penalty and force a longer 49ers field goal. The most frustrating Kelly play-calling came in the final moments of the game. The Eagles finally drove into scoring position. They even got all the way down to the one-yard line. But they couldn't punch it in. Kelly probably should have ran the ball once down there, but with the offensive line struggling like it is, it's hard to say they would have converted for sure. Kelly has had better days.
2) Offensive line play is offensive
It is hardly a surprise that Philadelphia's banged up offensive line did not play well. That's what happens when three full-time starters (Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson) and one top backup (Allen Barbre) are missing. The Eagles' offensive line especially struggled to open holes in the run game. Pass protection was far from perfect, because Eagles quarterback Nick Foles took a number of hits, but it could have been worse considering the Eagles only allowed one sack. Through the last three weeks, that is the only sack the Eagles have allowed. The positive news here is that Lane Johnson's four-game suspension is now over and he will rejoin the team. Johnson's addition will give the Eagles a starting offensive line of: LT Jason Peters, LG Matt Tobin, C David Molk, RG Todd Herremans, RT Lane Johnson. Only two of those players are not full-time starters at their normal position, which is progress.
3) Where is LeSean McCoy?
LeSean McCoy. You know, the 2013 NFL leading rusher? Surely you've heard of him, right? Joking aside, McCoy has been nearly invisible through the Eagles first four games. For a team that relies heavily on the run, that is obviously not good news. Part of the blame has to go to an Eagles offensive line that's missing several starters. Just think about it: Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis, and Lane Johnson are are athletic linemen who excel as run blockers. Without them, it's really hard for McCoy to get going. With that said, McCoy cannot be completely absolved of blame. He just doesn't look like his usual self out there. It almost seems like he's not 100% health wise. Or is this just me making excuses?
4) Nick Foles is 1/4
Nick Foles needs to play better, and that's not the first time that's been said this season. Like McCoy, Foles does not look 100%, and he is playing behind a less-than-ideal offensive line. But also like McCoy, Foles cannot be completely absolved of blame. There are times where he is holding onto the ball too long. There are other times where he is missing open receivers. On Sunday against the 49ers he overthrew a number of open targets. Through the first four games of the season, Foles has only played one game where he's look really good. That game was last week against the Washington Redskins. One good game in four attempts just isn't good enough. Again, Foles needs to be better.
5) The entire Eagles offense just looked bad
Give Jeremy Maclin credit for showing up: 5 receptions, 68 yards, 13.6 average. One of those catches was a vital sideline grab on 3rd-and-14. Outside of Maclin, however, everyone else really failed to show up. Zach Ertz fumbled at a crucial moment. Riley Cooper was bad. Brent Celek looked a step too slow. For all the talk about how the Eagles have so many offensive weapons, this was just a complete no-show.
6) A good night sleep matters
You could say that the Eagles' offense looked like a unit that didn't get very much rest last night...
7) Pass rush not dead
The Eagles went two straight weeks without getting a sack. Philadelphia recorded four sacks against the 49ers and made Colin Kaepernick look uncomfortable. That's a positive sign.
8) Malcolm Jenkins is pretty good
Jenkins already has three interceptions through just four games. A number of people were skeptical of the Jenkins signing in the offseason but he's been fantastic. The Eagles signed him a fraction of the cost it would have been to sign a player like Jairus Byrd. The Eagles' front office deserves a lot of credit for this signing.
9) Darren Sproles, still pretty good too
I'll just leave this here.
Through just four games with the Eagles, Darren Sproles has already topped career highs in: longest career run, most receiving yards in a game, and longest punt return. Sproles is 31 and has played in 122 games prior to the 2014 season.
10) The sky is not falling
Everyone take a deep breath. Losses are the worst, and there are definitely legitimate concerns with this Eagles team moving forward. But try to keep things in perspective. A road loss to the 49ers is not the end of the world. At this time last year the Eagles were 1-3 and coming off a game where they were totally shellacked by the Denver Broncos. Philadelphia is still 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the NFC East. The Eagles are still first overall in the division. With a win over St. Louis next week the Eagles could be 4-1 and back on the track for success.