Slow starts troubling Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Starting fast and scoring quickly was a trademark of Chip Kelly’s offense.
Until this season.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been shut out in the first quarter five times in seven games and have scored only 10 points in the opening 15 minutes. They averaged 8.1 points and scored more points (130) in the first quarter than any other in 2014.
Seven of Philadelphia’s 22 first-quarter drives have been three-and-outs. Eleven drives lasted four plays or less. Three ended with Sam Bradford throwing interceptions.
Considering the slow starts, it’s no coincidence the Eagles are 3-4. Yet, they’re only a half-game behind the New York Giants (4-4) entering Sunday night’s game at Dallas (2-5).
“Missed opportunities. Too many drops,” Kelly said, summing up the offense’s struggles. “We dropped too many balls. There were a lot of things that could have extended drives for us and kept us on the field. We really affected our third-down efficiency in terms of holding onto the football, and we’ve got to do a better job catching the football.”
Dropped passes are not an official statistic, but the Eagles lead the NFL in drops according to several stat analysts. Jordan Matthews has the most with nine.
Perhaps, the bye last week will help the entire group.
“These guys are pros. They’re here because they’ve displayed the ability to catch the football,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “We know they can do it. They’ve just got to go out and do it; keep repping it and practicing it, like they do. Then just make it happen in the games.”
Bradford and the rest of the offense had their worst performance in Week 2 in a 20-10 loss to the Cowboys. DeMarco Murray had 2 yards rushing on 13 carries in his first game against his former team. The Eagles totaled 226 yards, with 80 coming on drive late in the fourth quarter after the outcome was determined.
“We (stunk) that game. That’s the bottom line,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “We’re all confident we’re going to find the answers. We have a chance to get things right against a great defense. We’re all up for the challenge.”
BRADFORD’S FUTURE: Bradford is playing the final season of the rookie contract he signed after St. Louis drafted him No. 1 overall in 2010. He dismissed a report he turned down a $72 million, four-year extension from the Eagles before the season.
“That offer must’ve got lost in the mail,” Bradford said Wednesday.
Bradford’s future is uncertain. He’s not the ideal fit for Kelly’s up-tempo offense because he’s not a threat to run on zone-read plays.
“Those thoughts are a long way down the road,” he said about where he might be in 2016.
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