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Chip Kelly’s Chore: Stop The Bleeding

This feature is a weekly piece on BleedingGreenNation.com titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

Every coach experiences what Chip Kelly faces right now. A team on a losing streak. Heat from the media. A disgruntled fan base. Questions about the future.

This is nothing new. It's happened to every coach I've covered in my time watching the Eagles - Buddy Ryan, Rich Kotite, Ray Rhodes, Andy Reid and now Chip Kelly. The good coaches - Reid, in particular - figure out the problems, make adjustments, listen to the players and get back on the winning track. The ones who don't last - re: Rich Kotite, 1994, seven-game losing streak - are powerless to change the losing tide and don't survive.

Kelly is in a tough spot with the Eagles. Oh, he's had losing streaks before but he's never been in a late-season pickle like this when every player on the roster and every decision made and every play call ordered was on him. He's the boss. He's the one who gets all the credit. He's the one, in this instance, taking all the mustard from the media and the fans.

So what does he do? On the surface, not a whole lot is going to change. The Eagles aren't planning on making massive roster moves. There isn't a Pro Bowl edge pass rusher on the streets who is going to come in and suddenly give defensive coordinator Bill Davis the one thing that could greatly improve this defense right now. Kelly isn't going to flip out on his coaching staff and suddenly move pieces around.

Any changes that Kelly makes are going to be subtle, whether it's a depth-chart tweak - we've already seen wide receiver Nelson Agholor's snap counts jump up to where they belong since his return from injury while Josh Huff's mysteriously trend downward - or an X's and O's adjustment (truthfully, the offense pretty much stays the same week to week, while Davis is pulling out every trick in the book to try to help his defense).

As much as this three-game losing streak with the huge challenge coming Sunday at the 10-1 Patriots a test of the players' will and character and desire to win and reverse course after three ugly losses, it's even more of a challenge for Kelly. He's the one who put this roster together. He's the one calling the shots on game day. He's the face of the franchise, the head coach and the leader.

It's hard to tell what Kelly is thinking these days. He's not enjoying the losing, of course. Nobody does. Kelly is also not backing down from the task of turning the Eagles around and getting back to the top of the wide-open NFC East. Both publicly and privately Kelly is telling his players how much he believes in them and how much confidence he has that the Eagles can go to New England and win the game and stop the bleeding and gain some confidence and momentum.

How will the players respond? That's always the true test for a head coach. The Eagles have played dreadful games in losses to Tampa Bay and Detroit. Nobody denies that. Those were embarrassing defeats. Hopefully, players feel the sting. Hopefully, they are truly embarrassed as well, and hopefully they respond with a roar at New England.

It's going to say a lot about what the players feel for their head coach based on the performance in New England. I wrote last week here that I wanted to see the Eagles fight and scratch and show some urgency in Detroit. It didn't happen. It's very concerning that the Eagles lost 45-14. Going from 4-4 after the huge win in Dallas to 4-7 with losses to sub-.500 teams is worrisome. No doubt about it. Something is wrong here.

But it's something that every coach faces, and the good coaches, the ones who leave lasting positive impressions and win big, root out the problems and fix them. Reid's 2003 Eagles opened the season 0-2 with bad losses to Tampa Bay and New England, and then went 12-2 the rest of the way. Rhodes wasn't a great head coach, but in 1996 his Eagles lost three straight games in November and turned things around to win three of four in December to reach the playoffs. Hey, in 1980 Dick Vermeil's Eagles lost three of four games to end the regular season and rebounded to rip through the NFC in the playoffs en route to a Super Bowl appearance.

This is Chip Kelly's team. This, then, is his task: Turn the faith and confidence he has in his players into wins in December and capture the NFC East title. It's there for the taking, despite three ugly losses.