Lions Have Eagles for Thanksgiving: Is the Chip Kelly Experiment Over?

 

 

On Thanksgiving, with millions of people watching and enjoying their turkeys, the suddenly surprising Detroit Lions (4-7) embarrass the Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) 45-14. In just five days, the Eagles’ defense has allowed 90 points and nearly 1000 yards of offense to two sub .500 teams. The defense has also allowed five touchdown passes games with no interceptions to unlikely quarterbacks (the first time to rookie Jameis Winston and the second time now to the struggling Matthew Stafford). Heading into Foxborough next week against a team that clearly outmatches them on paper, the future is looking bleak for the Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly.

 The ‘System’ (or Ego) Over Talent

 Analysts always seem to look smart when they make a prediction in 20/20 hindsight but when just about everybody makes that same prediction and it comes true, the people who didn’t foresee that prediction coming true seem to look like idiots. To sum up what everyone thought about Chip Kelly making the decisions he made in this past offseason (basically getting rid of what made his team good): He is either going to look like a genius or an idiot by the end of the season. And what a surprise, he looks like the latter. The main reason being that Kelly chose his ‘system’ (ego) over talent.

This is the same Chip Kelly that never won a national championship with his ‘system’ on the college level and the same one that won ten games his first two seasons with the Eagles because he assumed control over Andy Reid’s players and not the ones he plugged in himself. I understand that every head coach dreams to operate like Bill Belichick, scouting out the players no one believes will succeed at the NFL level and proving everyone wrong, but not everyone can be him. Even so, it isn’t as if he picks up the players that clearly lack talent. Also, many of the players that succeed on his team were failures with other teams. Take RB Dion Lewis for example. He was a nobody on this very same Eagles team, but under Belichick, he looked like a primed Darren Sproles before he got injured. What that means is that Belichick knew how to utilize the talent that he had to get the best result. Still, the players had to have some talent to succeed in his system. Even with all of the ‘upgrades’ Chip Kelly made, he had to rely on an injury-prone and not so good quarterback in Sam Bradford to get the job done and sure enough, Bradford got injured and didn’t really look good when he did play. Now Kelly has to rely on Mark “butt-fumble” Sanchez to lead the team to the playoffs for the second straight season. Both points are telltale signs that he clearly doesn’t know what he is doing and he is the only one that doesn’t see it because of his belief in his system.

A Look Towards the Future

The biggest problem for the Eagles at this point is obviously Chip Kelly, the man at the helm. Firing him doesn’t magically bring back the players that were released. Although the team currently has a lot of talent at a lot of positions, collectively, the talent doesn’t fit together. Besides, what other head coach out there would want to work with the roster? The only reason the next potential head coach (someone who isn’t working for the franchise right now) comes along would be because of the appeal of running an NFL franchise or making millions of dollars.

At the same time, keeping Kelly means that the front office and owner Jeffrey Lurie are showing their desperation. Kelly is the only one who believes he can work with this roster and he is probably right. Also, he has been handed a lot of power to make a lot of very important decisions. Getting rid of Chip Kelly the coach means getting rid of Chip Kelly the GM. The next head coach and GM in all likelihood will scrap this team and start over.

Regardless of how the Eagles finish their season, Kelly can do no wrong. If the Eagles somehow win all their remaining games, Chip Kelly will look like a genius (somewhat) and he will have another year to show the league how delusional he is. If he is fired, every major college football program with a need for a head coach will look to have him at the helm. The worst part about firing Chip Kelly is that firing him gives him an easy way out of the mess that he has created. His hands will be washed clean of the Eagles franchise and he gets to move on as if nothing happened. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if franchises started adding in fix-my-team clauses (I just made that up) in a new head coach’s contract that states that any bonehead decisions that the head coach makes will be undone if the decisions made worsen the team. That way, everyone gets to rest easier at night knowing that the franchise-breaking decisions made by the few and the nightmares that follow are only temporary.

 

Peyton Manning Benched on His Own Day: Is Manning at the End of the Line Now?

 


The Kansas City Chiefs (4-5) humiliate the Denver Broncos (7-2) 29-13 in Denver. What makes matters worse is that according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, starting QB Peyton Manning, who finished the day going 5-20 for 35 yards and four interceptions before being replaced by backup quarterback Brock Osweiler in the 3rd quarter of Sunday’s game, has a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot and has had trouble walking. Manning is believed to have suffered the injury against the Indianapolis Colts on November 8, meaning that Manning has had this injury for weeks. With the loss to the Chiefs, the Broncos’ 11-game home winning streak has been snapped and the team has lost back-to-back games for the first time since weeks 2 and 3 of the 2012-13 season.

Are We Seeing the End of Peyton?

Coming into this game, Manning needed just a measly 4-yard completion to RB Ronnie Hillman to break the all-time passing yards record set by Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre. Once he broke the record, he received a standing ovation along with nods from some of the Chiefs’ players. This all happened in the first quarter. By the third quarter, he was being booed off the field by the very same ‘fans’ and was even mocked by the Chiefs at one point when they had a defensive lineman line up to defend a receiver at one point. Once Osweiler came into the game, the crowd cheered as if a primed John Elway had stepped into the huddle.

Manning’s season thus far has been an utter disappointment and a far cry from the one we saw just two seasons ago. The once prolific passer now has 17 interceptions in just nine games. One would have thought that his brother Eli had stepped in to play for him. Ironically, that joke can’t be used because even Eli has looked 1000 times better than his brother this season. Even though injuries can slow any athlete down and are valid excuses for why Peyton has struggled for the last two seasons, he still has complete control over his decision-making. In the three games that Manning has actually looked decent (at least to me: Kansas City, Green Bay, Indianapolis), he still looked average overall if we’re measuring him by his standards. And by his standards, he has looked awful this season. Anyone else seems like a better option at QB at this point.

Broncos’ Playoff Chances at This Point

All isn’t loss for the Broncos however. Manning’s latest injury isn’t season ending; the team still has a top-ranked defense and is only 7-2. They still have a chance to make the playoffs by default considering the division they play in (AFC West not the NFC West). However, after seeing Manning’s worst performance ever, winning is going to be that much tougher. The defense will need to step up its play and the offense needs to develop a running game (in the worst way) to protect whomever will be the starting quarterback going forward. If I’m head coach Gary Kubiak, I’ve just about had enough of Manning until he proves to me that he is indeed healthy (and not just pretending to be) considering the fact that pretty much all season, the Broncos have been winning games in spite of Manning instead of because of him. He IS their weakest link. Seeing his teammates come to his defense week after week is to be expected, but we all know that behind closed doors, it is killing them inside. His teammates won’t say anything out loud but under their breaths, they’re wondering if Tim Tebow still wants to play.

Conclusion

In all seriousness, Peyton Manning is still a great quarterback and we may or may not be seeing the last of him. I cannot recall a greater athlete that has had a farther fall from grace in such a short amount of time (unless you want to add Ronda Rousey to the list). From the greatest statistical season ever to a downright horrible one, from a Super Bowl appearance to one on the bench, hell, from being recognized as one of the premier passers in the game to being that one guy that keeps doing the Papa Johns’ commercials, The Peyton Manning that we once knew is long gone. The Broncos’ next game is against the Chicago Bears led by former Broncos’ head coach and current Bears’ head coach John Fox. If Manning is starting, hopefully Fox shows some respect and doesn’t ask the secondary and the defensive linemen to switch places for the game.

 

SAD NEWS: Braves Lose One of Their Own

chris hanson

cc   by Keith_Allison


Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson died Monday night at the age of 29. He was surrounded by former teammates at the time of his passing.

Hanson suffered “catastrophic organ failure”, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta, and had been hospitalized at Piedmont Hospital since early Sunday morning after claiming to have had breathing problems.

“We are incredibly saddened to learn of Tommy’s tragic passing,” said Braves president John Schuerholz in a statement released by the organization. “He was a favorite in the clubhouse and with our staff and he will truly be missed by everyone in Braves Country.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, family, former teammates and friends.”

Hanson was a former 22 round pick by the Braves back in 2005. After going through the trials of the minor leagues for a few years, the 6’ 6, 220 pound right-handed Hanson was considered a top prospect for the club going into the 2009 season (his rookie year). That season, he finished the season 11-4 with an ERA of 2.89, 116 strikeouts, and finished third in voting for National League Rookie of the Year award behind J.A. Happ and Chris Coghlan.

Injuries and personal tragedy would eventually slow down Hanson, who made his last MLB appearance for the Los Angeles Angels in 2013. Afterwards, he bounced around the league signing contracts with teams such as the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, and the San Francisco Giants, but never started another game.

Hanson’s career lasted for five seasons. Overall, he went 49-35 with a 3.80 ERA and 648 strikeouts.

The Atlanta Braves, the city of Atlanta, and the MLB will remember him for his contributions and his warm personality.

Miami’s Pseudo ‘Lateral’ and the ACC’s Unilateral Decision to Rob Duke

Atlantic_Coast_Conference_2014_logo

Photo By The Atlantic Coast Conference (Sportslogos.net) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


 

On Saturday, while the Mets were giving away the World Series, another not-so-important (football) game took place between the Duke Blue Devils and the Miami Hurricanes. Trailing 24-27 with just six seconds left, Miami made a desperate decision to lateral the ball around the field on the ensuing kickoff instead of taking a chance with a Hail Mary. The end result: an 8-lateral play with a bevy of errors that rewarded the ‘Canes with a victory and cost Duke not only a perfect record but possibly a Big 6 bowl appearance as well.

Let’s take a look at the list of errors that were made on just this one play (courtesy of Yahoo Sports):

  • The on-field officials did not penalize Miami for an illegal block in the back at the Miami 16-yard line, which would have placed Miami at their own 8-yard line and would have given them one last play.
  • The on-field officials called a block in the back penalty at the Duke 26-yard line and (correctly) reversed the call. However, they failed to properly communicate why the flag was picked up.
  • The most important one: The replay official did not overturn the ruling on the field that one of the Miami players involved in the lateral play released the ball before his knee touched the ground, which would have ended the game in Duke’s favor.
  • The on-field officials did not penalize Miami when one of their players prematurely left the bench before the game ended. This could have erased Miami’s touchdown because the penalty would have been considered a dead ball foul.

The ACC suspended the officiating crew for two games. However, while aware of the blunder by the referees, the ACC has decided not to reverse the result of the game.

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, understandably upset, commented that the NCAA should allow end results of games to be overturned.

To Replay or Not to Replay

 Replay technology has tremendously helped sports in general without a doubt. It has mostly eliminated that ‘human element’ that people believe is actually supposed to be a part of sports. Replay officials can usually get 99/100 calls right, but that one call they miss more often than not seems to be the deciding factor in a game no matter the situation or sport. Replay officials aren’t perfect and no one should expect them to be, but someone has to overrule the replay official when he/she still gets it wrong and everyone knows it. The human element should not be a factor so long as the replay system exists. Nowadays, networks allow officiating experts to appear on TV to explain a play that is being reviewed to viewers. Apparently, those same experts need to be on the field to explain the situation to a referee because he/she needs it more than the viewer.

Also, how could the ACC not overturn this result? Duke lost not because of their performance but because of an outside factor. When a game is wrongly ended due to bad officiating, it should be the one time where a game is overturned. Suspending the officials does nothing to help because when those officials return, they will be allowed to go back to work as if nothing happened while Duke has to deal with a robbery. The NCAA (and all other leagues that use the replay system) should make a decision on the replay system: Either make the right call with the assistance of replay or don’t use the replay system at all because it has been proven once again that the replay system can be undermined and flawed human judgment can still overrule it. Better yet, the NCAA should give the win to the team that actually won the game. If the NCAA can strip away victories from schools because of a scandal, then why can’t it make the decision to reward teams with victories when the whole nation (including Miami) knows that the wrong call was made?