The Philadelphia Eagles are now 6-8 on the 2015 NFL regular season schedule after being defeated by the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday by a final score of 40 to 17. Here are 10 things we learned from this game.
1) The Cardinals are really good
Before I get to the Eagles, let's give the Cardinals credit. They're a really good team. They're 12-2 after winning eight games in a row. Bruce Arians has his team playing well. Arizona scored 40 points and were seven yards short of 500. The Cardinals only committed one penalty the whole game. They didn't turn the ball over once. This is what a good team looks like, folks.
2) The Eagles could have been the Cardinals
Or at least more like them. With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to say the Eagles could have done things differently. They could have hired Bruce Arians instead of Chip Kelly. They could have traded a couple low round draft picks to the Raiders for Carson Palmer instead of trading a second round pick for Sam Bradford. They could have taken a shot on Tyrann Mathieu. They could have drafted John Brown instead of Josh Huff. They could have spent a draft pick on David Johnson instead of $40 million on DeMarco Murray. They could have signed Mike Iupati in free agency this offseason instead of completely failing to address the offensive line.
But the reality is the Eagles didn't make those moves. Arizona general manger Steve Keim has a done a good job of assembling a talented Cardinals roster. The Eagles haven't had the same kind of success in their talent acquisition. I don't bring up these moves to say they Eagles should have done them. I bring them up to highlight the importance of a successful GM. The Eagles need more talent, and they need someone who can get them that talent. It remains to be seen if Chip Kelly (and Ed Marynowitz?) can be that guy.
3) The Eagles are still alive!
It's true. The Eagles can clinch the NFC East in Week 17. The big key for them will be beating Washington next week. If they can't do that, the Eagles will be officially eliminated from the playoff race. Even if the Eagles win the division, though, can they really win a playoff game? It's not impossible, but it's hard to feel great about their chances.
4) Sam Bradford was up and down
Alright, it took until now, but we're finally talking about this crappy game. Let's talk about Sam Bradford. He was up and down. He made some good throws. His back shoulder pass to Brent Celek was impressive. He also delivered some accurate strikes while taking shots in the pocket. It was encouraging to see him return to the game quickly after getting hurt early on.
It wasn't all good, though. Far from it. Bradford's picks were pretty bad. He also fumbled once. No matter how you dice it, three turnovers from the quarterback is not a recipe for success. Bradford has arguably played well enough to return next year, but he hasn't proven he can be a legitimate franchise quarterback for a championship contender.
5) The run defense sucks now
What happened? The Eagles have always been pretty solid against the run during Chip Kelly's tenure. That's always been the strength of the defense. Suddenly the Eagles aren't so good at it anymore. They've allowed an average of nearly 164 rush yards per game in their last eight games. Compare that to their first six, when they only allowed 94 rush yards per game.
6) DeMarco Murray is riding the bench, which is where he mostly belongs
Murray barely played on Sunday night. He's been buried in the rotation. He only had two carries for three yards. It's clear he's being phased out of the offense, which is a good thing. He wasn't productive when he was getting the ball. So why play him?
It'll be interesting to see how Murray's future with this team plays out.
7) Chip Kelly is making some questionable decisions
Chip Kelly the coach didn't have an awesome game. I know I just said he's doing good by keeping Murray on the bench, but he didn't use the $40 million running back in the one situation he's actually good: short yardage. I posted an article earlier this week about how Murray is a perfect 15 for 15 on 3rd/4th and short situations. The Eagles had a 4th and 1 that they failed to convert in the red zone prior to the end of the first half. There's no guarantee Murray would have moved the chains in that situation, but why go with Ryan Mathews and not the guy who is actually really good at that one specific thing?
I also have to criticize Kelly's decision to throw a flag on Michael Floyd's catch along the sideline. It looked pretty clear to me he was down. It's not like the wasted challenge/timeout really hurt the Eagles, but it wasn't a good decision. And it comes one week after Kelly wasted a red flag on a bad challenge against Buffalo. Kelly is now 1/3 on challenges this season.
8) The Eagles did some embarrassing things
I wasn't a big fan of how Jordan Matthews chose to celebrate his touchdown when the Eagles were down 20 points in the fourth quarter. That really wasn't even the worst of it, however. Matthews went over to the sideline and then got involved in a more elaborate shoe-shining celebration with Josh Huff. I'm all about fun, but this was just dumb to me. Come on.
This wasn't the only embarrassing thing, either. Just check out this comment from Mychal Kendricks.
9) Marcus Smith got his first career sack!
It only took him until Week 15 of his second season in the NFL, but 2014 first round pick Marcus Smith recorded half a sack in this game. It's official: he is no longer a bust.
10) This season hasn't been fun
What an exhausting year. Only two more games to go and then it's all over.
... unless the Eagles somehow win the NFC east!