Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Todner

PHILADELPHIA -- As far as Chip Kelly is concerned, nothing before Jan. 16 matters. That’s the day he was hired as head coach of the Eagles.

That approach makes sense. Kelly has a big enough job preparing the team for the 2013 season. There isn’t much he can do to fix 2012.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
Matt Rourke/AP PhotoCoach Chip Kelly and the Eagles have one more game to work out any holes on both sides of the ball.
But there is a bit of a disconnect at times for fans who watched the last couple years of Andy Reid’s tenure, as well as the media who covered it. Something about ignoring the mistakes of the past and being doomed to repeat it.

The disconnect “expresses itself,” as Kelly likes to say, in three major areas. All were on display in the third preseason game in Jacksonville Saturday night. All had fans reliving lowlights from that 4-12 nightmare last year. All had Kelly focused on the moment at hand and trying to resolve problems.

The three areas:

" Michael Vick’s return from the stratosphere. After winning the starting quarterback job with an unearthly 86.7 completion percentage through two games, Vick looked much more like the player we saw in 2011 and 2012.

That started with some breakdowns along the offensive line. Vick held the ball longer than he had in winning the job. He took two sacks and threw one terrible interception off his back foot.

But Kelly has said all along that he didn’t put much stock in watching tape of Vick’s previous performances. The coach was sanguine about Vick’s play in Jacksonville.

“There was great coverage,” Kelly said. “A couple of those were seven-man protections, so we didn’t have everybody out. Three-man routes. Jacksonville wasn’t blitzing, so there was great coverage. Part of being a great quarterback is making great decisions. If people are covered, I would rather our quarterback hold onto the ball than release the ball.”

" Bryce Brown’s fumble-itis. The rookie back fumbled the ball four times in 115 carries last season. That was the cloud. The silver lining was the promise he showed as a combination speed and power runner.

So there was Brown busting a run outside and streaking toward the end zone. And there was Brown fumbling at the 1-yard line. The ball went through the end zone for a turnover.

"I know it's been an issue in the past," Kelly said. "On that particular play, their defensive back put their hat on the football. He did have the football tight against his body. It was swinging a little bit early in the run. We talk about ball security all the time, we do ball security drills."

“Props to him for making a great play,” Brown said. “We spend a lot of time in traffic, keeping the ball when you’re in traffic. Everybody says (turnovers) will kill you. This team has turned the ball over a lot in the past.”

" The defense has gotten gashed for long runs. On the very first play from scrimmage in the preseason opener, New England’s Stevan Ridley burst through a huge hole for a 62-yard run. Later, LeGarrette Blount picked his way through the defense for a 51-yard touchdown.

So a chill went up the spines of Eagles fans when Jacksonville’s Jordan Todman ran 63 yards for a TD Saturday night.

“You look at the long run we had, we had two kids cut (blocked) and knocked down on the ground,” Kelly said. “One of the guys missed his gap integrity. And we had two guys take very poor angles to the football. We really didn’t get a hand on the guy. It’s all part of it when you look at that specific play.”

That’s how Kelly and, to a large extent, his players have to look at it. It was a play to study and there were mistakes to correct. Period. There is nothing to be gained by dwelling on previous struggles. The Eagles are likely to have only four or five starters from last year’s defense.

“It’s preseason,” said linebacker DeMeco Ryans, one of the returning starters. “Took some bad angles a couple plays. I feel like we’re good in the run game. It’s just a couple times we got cut or took a bad angle. It’s not like guys were screwing up the play totally.

“It’s easily fixable.”

With no more preseason action for Ryans and the starters, it’s going to have be fixed in practice.

Observation deck: Eagles-Jaguars

August, 24, 2013

The Philadelphia Eagles returned to the site of their Super Bowl XXXIX loss for a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was the ghosts of 2012, not 2004, that haunted their starters in a come-from-behind 31-24 win. Some thoughts:

" The third preseason game had some of the flavor of a regular-season game. The Eagles had better hope that flavor was pure vanilla.

It would take some of the sting out of the Eagles’ ragged offensive play if coach Chip Kelly was holding back most of the good stuff in his playbook. If not, there was some real reason for concern here.

For starters, Michael Vick looked very much like the guy who held the Eagles’ starting-quarterback job the last two years rather than the guy who was competing for it in the first two preseason games. Vick threw two terrible passes off his back foot (well, he was almost on his back the second time) while under pressure. One was intercepted, the other was ruled a sack. That sack came late in the first half when the Eagles needed to take advantage of a long return by Damaris Johnson.

Vick completed 13 of 15 passes for 199 yards while competing with Nick Foles in the first two preseason games. After being named the starter, he completed 15 of 23 for 184 yards, one TD and one INT.

" There was little evidence of the go-go pace that Kelly demands from his offense. The Eagles did not huddle, but there were long delays as plays were signaled in and the players sorted themselves out into the proper alignments. Vick has not really executed that fastbreak offense in this preseason. On the play before that late first-half sack, the ball was snapped with one second left on the play clock. Vick ran around, couldn’t find a receiver and threw the ball away.

" Last year, running back Bryce Brown showed amazing quickness to the corner but came down with a bad case of the fumbles. In the third quarter, Brown sped around the right corner, then fumbled the ball through the end zone for a turnover. The fumble killed an opportunity for the Eagles to answer the Jaguars’ long, second half-opening TD drive. Brown ran four yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

" That late TD came at the end of the Eagles’ best sustained drive of the game to that point. Foles was at quarterback for that one. Foles also managed the uptempo, go-ahead scoring drive that began on the Eagles 1 and ended with a Chris Polk TD run.

Foles completed 10 of 11 passes for 112 yards. To be fair, the Jaguars backups were playing defense on both of those drives.

" For the first time, the offensive line was complete. Left tackle Jason Peters took the field for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. For the first time, however, the line looked confused and unable to figure out its assignments. Early on, especially, Vick seldom had a clean pocket and resorted to running for his life. That has been a bad combination over the past few years, with Vick turning the ball over or getting hurt with great frequency.

" The Eagles defense had some great moments. Connor Barwin batted a pass in the air and caught it as he landed on his back. That gave the offense great field position, which Vick took advantage of for the first team’s only touchdown. Barwin, Trent Cole, Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry and Mychal Kendricks all disrupted the Jaguars offense at different times.

" The Eagles defense had some very 2012 moments. Chad Henne carved the Birds up on Jacksonville’s first possession. It ended with a blown coverage: Henne found Justin Blackmon all alone between safety Patrick Chung and cornerback Bradley Fletcher. It looked like many of the league-high 33 passing TDs allowed by the Eagles last season.

" Jordan Todman’s 63-yard touchdown run was another bad flashback to 2012. Todman ran off left tackle, then cut to his right. Both Eagles safeties, Patrick Chung and rookie Earl Wolff, took terrible angles and were unable to slow him down, let alone hit him. Todman got outside to the right and was gone.

Wolff replaced the mediocre Nate Allen in the first half but did little to stand out in a positive way. Kenny Phillips, the free agent brought in to challenge Allen for the starting job, said he expected to play after dealing with a sore quadriceps. Phillips did not play. Considering Chung’s performance on the Blackmon and Todman TDs, there is real concern about both safety spots.

" Return man Damaris Johnson had an eventful night. He fumbled the ball away on a punt return, then got stopped inside his own 10 on a kickoff return. Later, he broke two long returns, 61 yards on a kickoff and 37 on a punt. The Eagles would love the undersized wideout to provide big-play potential on returns so they can avoid putting DeSean Jackson at risk.