ABOVE PHOTO: Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley (left) looks up at Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams, who recovered his fumble late in the second quarter.
(Photo by Webster Riddick)
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
The first half of the Monday night season-opener against the Washington Redskins seems like a distant memory for the Eagles offense.
Chip Kelly’s high-scoring, fast-paced offense that transformed the Oregon Ducks into a national powerhouse at the collegiate level, has simply not worked game in and game out at the pro level. While it has compiled yardage, it has been inconsistent.
The Eagles 15-7 loss to the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday was another example of an offense that is stuck in a quagmire and going nowhere fast. The Birds offense has scored just three points in their last eight quarters and could only muster 201 yards against the Giants defense.
The only points came via special teams late in the fourth quarter when Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie sailed the ball over the head of punter Steve Weatherford. Eagles reserve linebacker Najee Goode recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Eagles defense had another solid outing while the offense struggled. The Birds did not allow a touchdown and held the Giants (2-6) to five Josh Brown field goals.
For the second straight week, the Eagles offense could not generate points. They lost starting quarterback Michael Vick who re-aggravated his left hamstring and was ineffective when he was on the field. He was 6-of-9 passing for 31 yards with one interception. Vick left the game for good early in the second quarter.
With backup quarterback Nick Foles recovering from concussion symptoms, rookie Matt Barkley was pressed into service as the Birds quarterback for the rest of the game. Although he showed flashes of brilliance, Barkley played like a rookie quarterback. Good on some plays and terrible on others. He completed 17-of-26 passes for 158 yards with an interception and a fumble. Barkley was sacked three times.
Ironically, it was when Barkley was at his best that he made the most egregious mistake of the game for the Eagles. The former USC star drove the Birds from their own 20 to the New York two-yard line. On first and goal, Barkley was sacked at the Giants 14 by cornerback Terrell Thomas, who jarred the ball loose. New York linebacker Jacuian Williams recovered the ball at the Giants 12.
“I saw (DeSean) Jackson first and it looked too close to throw it to him, so I was going through my second progression and was about to throw it away and (Thomas) just got there a second too early,” Barkley said.
That was as close as the Eagles (3-5) would come to scoring an offensive touchdown for the rest of the game.
Barkley’s fumble had folks questioning why Kelly would pass the ball that deep in Giants territory with a rookie quarterback when they have running back LeSean McCoy in the backfield.
Granted, McCoy gained just 48 yards on 15 carries for the game. You would think with a back as good as McCoy the Eagles would be able to get two yards on two carries deep inside the red zone even on a day when he was struggling.
“That was the play I called,” Kelly said. “It didn’t work. So obviously, it didn’t work. But we know in that situation, we’re first and goal and we talked about it. If we don’t have it, let’s throw it way and we’ll go the next time.”
The only thing Barkley threw away in that sequence was a golden opportunity to put points on the board.
Kelly said inconsistency at the quarterback position, among other things, has been the reason the team has struggled offensively in the last couple of weeks.
“Yeah I think we’ve had some instability at the quarterback position,” Kelly said. “It starts with me. I’m the play caller. I’m the guy calling the plays. In the last two weeks, I haven’t done a very good job of it. Until we can get that straightened out, the disappointing thing is I think our defense played a really, really good football game again today. They’ve really come along.
“But offensively, we haven’t done what we need to do to win two football games and we need to get that fixed.”