If you want to be picky, there are quite a few things one could be critical of when examining Chip Kelly’s debut with the Philadelphia Eagles. Yes, they beat the Washington Redskins 33-27 on Monday night. Yes, they ran 53 plays in the first half. Yes, they were up 26-7 at one point. And if the game ended at halftime, that would have all been great.
But it didn’t.
Despite Robert Griffin III looking like someone coming off a very serious injury who hadn’t played football in a really long time, Kelly’s Eagles nearly choked that lead away – giving up 20 points in the second half. More importantly, though, they only scored seven after that initial burst. You can sell yourself as a great offensive team and thus dismiss defensive failings, but in order to do that, you have to first establish yourself as a great offensive team. One half of football doesn’t do that.
When asked by the media to diagnose his team’s second half woes, Kelly made this observation:
Chip Kelly on his team's pace last night: "I felt like it was slow to be honest w/ you."— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 10, 2013
Obviously the Eagles offense slowed down a bit in the second half because of their big lead. That being said, it was also sped up in the first half by RGIII’s inability to do, well, anything. So that sort of cancels it out. Couple that with the fact that Washington will likely have one of the league’s less impressive defenses this year. And the fact that, presumably, there was a certain element of surprise at work in Kelly’s first NFL. And the fact that Michael Vick, who looked really fragile on Monday night, will only slow down from here. And the fact that a ton of players looked gassed in the second half.
What do you get when you mix all of that together? A whole lot of uncertainty as to what the future holds.
Will Kelly be successful at this level? Maybe. Probably. But folks should hold off on crowning him after one half of one game.