NFL

NFL AM: Chip Kelly Puts Offensive Woes On Himself

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Chip Kelly says play calling isn’t working:

After a preseason that saw the Philadelphia Eagles offense perform at a level high enough that some were predicting Chip Kelly’s squad would represent the NFC in Super Bowl 50, the expectations were set pretty high.

A month into the new season the Eagles are now 1-3 in an NFC East where all of their counterparts have started 2-2, and a struggling offense has been a large part of their woes.

When Kelly spoke to the media on Wednesday, he was asked what issues he can address to make the team more successful on third down. He replied by talking about the offense as a whole, and his own failure to put the team in better positions.

“I think a lot of it goes to first and second down,” Kelly said. “I think lack of success on first and second down. I’ve got to do a better job play-calling and put us in better situations so we’ve got a little bit manageable third-down situations, in terms of always being in third-and-long. Percentage-wise, you’re just not going to convert as much as you are going to convert on third-and-short and third-and-medium. So I think it’s an effort for us to do a better job on first and second down.”

Later Kelly was asked why how he could explain so many players being off to a slow start. Kelly again said the blame falls squarely on his shoulders.

“No, I think a lot of that is on us coaching-wise,” Kelly said once again. “We’ve got to put him in better situations and plays, and specifically me in play-calling. We’ve got to do a better job that.”

But what do Kelly’s words mean? They mean nothing.

At the end of the day, Kelly’s words are nothing more than coach speak. It’s hard to imagine that the man who thought he’d come into the NFL and outsmart an entire league has suddenly figured out his way isn’t working.

Don’t expect drastic change in the way things are done in Philadelphia just because Kelly had to find a way to answer a question at a press conference without throwing his players under the bus. Remember, it was just a couple of days ago that former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick had reported that players in Philadelphia had told him they felt like they were being treated like college players.

Yes, Kelly like other head coaches will be continuing to look for ways to get his team to perform better. That’s part of the process, and not a change in philosophy.

As for an actual change in philosophy, you probably want to wait until you actually see something different on the field before just believing coach speak. Sure, Kelly uttered the often used “that’s on me,” reaction when someone asked about his players underperforming.

Roger Goodell likes the change in the extra point:

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke Wednesday at the league’s fall meetings in New York, and he spoke glowingly about change in the NFL’s extra point rule.

It appears the change is everything the league hoped it would be, and has made the most boring and automatic play in football, a little less of both.

“Our PAT rule, which we’re very excited about, it’s had a very positive impact,” Goodell said. “It’s exactly what the competition committee focused on.”

With extra point percentages going down and teams deciding to go for two more often, it seems the rule change has been exactly what the NFL had hoped.

“It’s about 94 percent success rate,” Goodell explained.  “We’re also seeing that the two-point conversion has gone up to about 53 percent. Both of those are very positive trends.”

While the, “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it,” strategy is often the best strategy when it comes to rule changes in sports, and things that drastically change the process of the game are often a mistake, the NFL may have just gotten this one right.

Like many rule changes, it would have been fine left alone, but unlike many of the changes the NFL has made in recent years, the change to the extra point rule has made the play a little less monotonous, and a little more exciting. The fact that you can make that statement about the extra point is a big win for the NFL.

Colts and Texans crucial battle kicks off Week-5:

It’s very easy to overstate the importance of a Week-5 game between division opponents, but not when it comes to the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans games Thursday night.

The Colts were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders after reaching the AFC title game a year ago, and adding veterans like Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and others.

The Texans were supposed to be playoff contenders after going 9-7 in Bill O’Brien’s first year with the team.

Instead the Colts are off to a 2-2 start which has seen Andrew Luck struggle mightily, and the Texans are an even more disappointing 1-3, with their only win coming over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game they could have easily lost.

After losing their first two by only a touchdown, and squeaking out a 10-point victory over Tampa Bay, the Texans were throttled by the Atlanta Falcons 48-21 this past Sunday.

Perhaps the craziest thing about tonight’s match-up is that if both banged up starters go, it will be actually be a battle between the two lowest rated starting quarterbacks in the NFL with Luck coming in last with a rating of just 65.1.

Indianapolis re-signed backup quarterback Josh Johnson on Wednesday, so it’s possible Luck’s injury could cause him to miss a second game, but all signs point to the Colts quarterback being on the field Thursday night.

The Colts and Texans entered the season with very different expectations, but they’ve both fallen drastically short of those after the first quarter of the season. For the team that loses Thursday night, all hope might just be lost before the end of the schedule’s next quarter is up.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.