Me: Now a half season in, have you gotten any feeling Chip Kelly's offensive system can thrive in the NFL?
Brandon: Absolutely, I do. Prior to the Eagles' past two outings, the offense was putting up fantastic numbers. Historical, even. Aside from LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson, Chip Kellly was accomplishing this success without "his" players. Players like Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, and Brent Celek just aren't serious weapons. The only issue with Kelly's offense right now is potentially the issue with any offense: lack of good (or even average) quarterback play. Michael Vick is hurt, Nick Foles played well against Tampa Bay but stunk it up against the Cowboys, and Matt Barkley wasn't anything great against the Giants. The problem with the Eagles offense isn't about scheme; it's about execution. Receivers are running open. It takes a quarterback to get the ball there.
Nick Foles has looked like the real deal in limited games this season. Do you agree or were those a product of the defense not being able to gameplan for him?
Nick Foles had a great game against Tampa Bay. That's his ceiling. His performance against the Cowboys was horrifying. All of his flaws were exposed at once. The real Nick Foles is somewhere in-between those two performances. Regarding teams gameplanning for him, I don't think that is an issue. Chip Kelly says he virtually runs the same offense no matter what QB is in there. There are some tweaks, sure, but it's mostly 11 personnel sets. Foles is far from a real deal, but he has had his moments. Time will tell if he can play with consistency.
The Eagles haven't beaten an even decent team since the opener versus Washington and are 0-3 against the AFC West. Could they be actually even worse than their 3-4 record suggests? Or is it simply a case of playing really good teams and the injuries at the quarterback position?
Good question. If you look at the past two weeks, the Eagles are definitely one of the worst teams in the NFL. The defense held their own for sure, but they couldn't score an offensive touchdown. 3 offensive points in a combined two games is terrible. Why couldn't the Eagles score, though? It's simply: quarterback play. It's obviously the most criticial position in the game and the Eagles weren't getting any kind of quality performance out of their QBs. Generally speaking, I think they're about as good as their record suggests. But given recent history, it might be fair to assume they're horrible until they prove otherwise.
Robert Griffin III had a pretty good game in a loss in the opener. Do you see Pryor having similar success against the Eagles' defense?
That's something I've been musing. The Eagles held a rusty RG3 in check during the season opener but they haven't really faced a mobile quarterback since. Philadelphia's defense has been improving after a rough start, so it will be interesting to see how they handle Pryor. I think Pryor could struggle through the air, but on the ground he could light it up.
What under the radar Eagles player(s) should we be watching for in this game?
Cedric Thornton. The Eagles' starting 3-4 DE is a former undrafted rookie free agent that's really come on strong for the team. He's easily among the best at his position. Thornton has proven to be an excellent run defender. The combination of Thornton and Fletcher Cox on the ends is a strong defensive line duo.