NFL Wire News

So far, Kelly and Eagles come up snake eyes


The Sports Xchange

PHILADELPHIA — In his attempt to go from 10-6 good to Super Bowl great, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly took a number of major personnel gambles in the offseason.

The two most significant were trading away his star running back, LeSean McCoy, and his starting quarterback, Nick Foles.

Kelly replaced McCoy, who won the league rushing title in 2013, with the guy who won it in 2014 — DeMarco Murray. And he replaced Foles with Sam Bradford, who had franchise-quarterback potential but was coming off back-to-back ACL injuries.

Two games into the season, neither of those moves is paying early dividends. The Eagles lug an unexpected 0-2 record into Sunday’s game against the New York Jets (2-0).

Thanks to an offensive line that has struggled to block anybody, Murray has rushed for only 11 yards on 21 carries. And Bradford has played just one decent half in two games and already has four interceptions.

Making matters worse, Murray injured a hamstring in practice Wednesday and is questionable for Sunday’s game. The severity of the injury isn’t known, but the fact that the Eagles sent Murray for an MRI exam isn’t a good sign.

If Murray can’t play, Ryan Mathews, another offseason acquisition with a similar downhill running style to Murray’s, probably would get the bulk of the carries, along with Darren Sproles.

Mathews has only four carries for four yards in the first two games.

Seven of the Eagles’ 33 rushing attempts have been for negative yards. They have run the ball 16 times on first down for only two yards. Two yards!

Bradford’s knee has held up so far. And he had a solid preseason that included a 10-for-10 performance in three series against Green Bay last month.

But in the first two games, his only really good half of football was the second half of the Eagles’ Week 1 loss to Atlanta, when he completed 21 of his last 24 passes in a 26-24 loss.

In last week’s 20-10 loss to Dallas, Bradford appeared to be tentative and often wasn’t on the same page with his receivers as he completed 23-of-37 passes for 224 yards and threw two interceptions.

“We were a little inconsistent on Sunday,” Kelly said. “But I thought Sam was pretty accurate in the Falcons game.”

Bradford hasn’t gotten a lot of help from his receivers, who have dropped six passes in the first two games, including three by Jordan Matthews, who has a team-high 16 receptions.

–Cornerback Byron Maxwell, who the Eagles signed in the offseason to a six-year, $63 million deal with $22 million in guarantees, is off to a rough start. In the first two games, he’s been targeted 19 times and given up 15 receptions for 240 yards and two touchdowns, including a 42-yard scoring catch by Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams last week. Maxwell claimed after the game that the reason he gave up the touchdown to Williams was because he was tired from being on the field for nearly 41 1/2 minutes. Said defensive coordinator Bill Davis: “I think everybody’s in good enough shape and I think we’re fine. I don’t see any issue with conditioning or anybody getting too tired.”

Notes: Linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee) didn’t practice Wednesday and apparently won’t play Sunday, although the Eagles have not yet ruled him out. Kelly will only say that he has a sprain. The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that he has a partial tear of his repaired left ACL and will miss several games. … Defensive end Cedric Thornton has a cast on his broken left hand and won’t play Sunday against the Jets. He broke it in last week’s loss to the Cowboys. … Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) was injured in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys and didn’t practice Wednesday. He isn’t expected to play Sunday against the Jets, but hasn’t yet been ruled out by the team.

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