Eagles' woes on offense start with possession

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick played well the first two games, but stumbled Thursday. He finished 13 of 30 for 201 yards and one touchdown. He had two interceptions and one fumble. YONG KIM / Staff
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick played well the first two games, but stumbled Thursday. He finished 13 of 30 for 201 yards and one touchdown. He had two interceptions and one fumble. YONG KIM / Staff
Posted: September 22, 2013

The high-powered offense expected when the Eagles hired Chip Kelly appeared too ordinary in Thursday's 26-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, leaving Kelly trying to fix the system that was supposed to highlight his entry into the NFL.

The issue begins with plays and points. The Eagles won't be in games this year if the offense scores just 16 points and takes 14 fewer snaps than the opposing team.

"Right now . . . we're not running enough plays on offense. We're turning the ball over too much offensively. We're not executing the way we're supposed to execute, and that's what we have to do to be able to keep our defense off the field," Kelly said.

The Eagles finished Thursday's game with 431 yards, so they were able to move the ball. But they turned the ball over five times - four on offense, one on special teams - and converted just 3 of 10 third downs.

A big part of the problem on Thursday was quarterback Michael Vick, who had his worst game of the season. Vick finished 13 of 30 for 201 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 95 yards. He had two interceptions and one fumble.

Vick made poor decisions and poor throws, but he was not aided by an offensive line that allowed the pocket to collapse from a four-man rush, and some complementary targets who could not take advantage of the extra attention paid to DeSean Jackson. Kelly gave Vick a lukewarm evaluation on Friday.

"I thought Mike played OK," Kelly said. "He has played better. But it's always a combination unfortunately. . . .It's not always on one guy."

Kelly identified tipped passes and poor protection as part of the problem. He also credited Vick for extending plays by scrambling and adding a running dimension to the game. But the coach was effusive in his overall assessment of his 33-year-old quarterback.

"We got to be able to stand in the pocket at times when we've got a situation where we got to be able to get to the top of our drop and not give up so much pressure," Kelly said. "There are times for Mike when the ball has to get out a little bit quicker in certain situations."

Kelly later added that Vick is still "playing at a pretty good level." Kelly acknowledged that the position gets scrutinized, which Vick understands. The missed throws were not limited to Thursday's game, but Kelly said Vick understands it.

The Eagles passed 55 percent of the time on Thursday, and 65 percent of the time last week. They're around a 52-48 split this season in favor of the pass, but that was skewed by a run-heavy second half in the opener.

Kelly said he'd prefer to run the ball more, because that means the Eagles are leading in games. But the Eagles are a dangerous running game even when playing from behind. They average 6.5 yards per rushing play. The Eagles rushed for 260 yards and 9.3 yards per carry against the Chiefs' vaunted rush defense.

"I don't have a preconceived notion of what it should be," Kelly said. "When we go into games we don't say, we got X amount of runs and X amount of passes. It's what is going to work when they try to defend us in a certain manner. That's what we look at when we're game planning and making decisions on play-calling stuff. It's not we've got to be 60/40, 50/50, 65/45."

The pass-happy offense is one of the ways the offense is different than anticipated entering the season. It also seemed that the Eagles would be a tight-end centric passing game, especially after they signed James Casey and drafted Zach Ertz in the second round. But Casey has played just eight offensive snaps, and Ertz has played just 25 percent of the snaps.

Kelly said the reason is because veterans Jason Avant and Brent Celek have been so impressive, and the Eagles have kept their three-receiver set on the field often this season. Avant has played 83 percent of the snaps, and Celek has taken 88 percent of the snaps.

"I think Jason and Brent knew the situation coming in and have embraced the competition and stepped up their game," Kelly said. "I think it's more of a credit to Brent and Jason than it is where are we from a standpoint of do we want to play two tight ends, three tight ends."

There are enough issues for Kelly to fix on offense. One thing he's not concerned about is injuries from the other team - real or fake - that slow down the tempo Kelly craves to control.

"Never, ever going to get into that," Kelly said. "We need to execute better and not turn the football over. That's the least of my worries right now."

Notes. DeMeco Ryans was fined $21,000 for last week's hit on San Diego's Malcom Floyd, which the league considered striking a defenseless player in the head and neck area with his shoulder. . . . The only notable injury is safety Patrick Chung, who has a left shoulder contusion. Chung wore a sling but is expected to practice when the team returns on Tuesday. Both Vick and running back Michael Vick are fine after ankle injuries on Thursday. . . . The Eagles-Chiefs game was the highest-rated Thursday night telecast in NFL Network history with a 6.0 US HH rating. It was the fourth most-viewed game in network history with 9.4 million viewers.


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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