The Eagles were supposed to be embarrassing opponents by now. Thirty-five games into the tenure of football mastermind Chip Kelly, that had to have been the plan.
So in the wake of the Eagles looking as bad as they ever have in franchise history, losing at home to the hated Cowboys, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like on the ground in Philadelphia. Thanks to one intrepid journalist, you don’t have to imagine.
As the seconds ticked away in the 20-10 loss, I turned on the Internet feed of Sportsradio 94 WIP in Philadelphia. I did not listen non-stop, as I value my health and sanity, but I checked back every 15-30 minutes in the hours after the game to hear what Eagles Nation had to say about the state of their Super Bowl-less franchise. Yes, all of these are the words of real callers, transcribed to the best of my ability.
7:53 p.m. “It’s one thing for this defense to get beaten by Matt Ryan, but Brandon Weeden? I mean, really: Brandon Weeden? Brandon Weeden! I don’t buy this Chip Kelly ‘boy genius’ stuff.”
In fairness to Chip Kelly, the Eagles didn’t officially get beaten by Brandon Weeden. Tony Romo had the lead when he left with a broken collarbone. The Eagles merely got shredded by Weeden in a fill-in capacity.
7:55 p.m. “I kept telling you guys all preseason, stop promoting this guy [Chip Kelly]. He’s not going to win anything!”
You should have listened to this guy earlier, Philadelphia. He knew. He told you. #ThisGuyForEaglesCoach #HeWillWinThings
8:20 p.m. “You know what, I don’t even know where to start. But here’s the biggest problem: our offensive line is a sieve. The word ‘Pro Bowl’—Pro Bowl player—it doesn’t mean anything to Chip Kelly.”
Chip Kelly clearly has a lot of problems as an NFL coach and a player personnel guy. But I hope we can all agree that not caring about the Pro Bowl may be his only strength.
8:22 p.m. “Everyone should call in and give one word for that game.” [Host: “What’s your word?”] “Bored out of my mind.”
I have one word for this caller: Absolutely, unequivocally amazing.
8:46 p.m. “Look, I’m 25% Irish and I understand. [Chip Kelly] looks full-blooded Irish and Evan Mathis didn’t show up for OTAs.”
People give sports radio callers a hard time, but this is nothing more than a collection of facts here. Fact: that guy is 25% Irish. Fact: Chip Kelly looks full-blooded Irish (to that caller). Fact: Evan Mathis didn't show up for OTAs. Good call.
9:10 p.m. “We will be lucky to be favored in any game.”
More hard truths.
9:12 p.m. “I don’t know if Chip Kelly is at all related to Jim Jones, but the bottom line is: He’s serving out some Kool-Aid and he’s trying to get everyone to believe ... but no one is buttoning up their chin straps and coming out to play.”
It’s interesting about cults: If you’re tough and scrappy and work hard, they can be pretty good!
9:21 p.m. “I’m looking for that positive thing. I’m 56 years old. I’ve got 25 left in me, I think. And I don’t think we’re going to get there. I’m looking for that one positive thing, and I’m not seeing it. Now that being said, we’re playing the Jets next week. I’m going to hang up and listen.”
The Eagles are so bad, they’ve convinced a 56-year-old man that he’s probably going to die without ever seeing a Super Bowl title. The existence of the Jets might be all that’s keeping him going. Thank you, Jets!
9:52 p.m. “This is like a joke. And Chip Kelly has to step up here and answer questions and everything like that.”
Hey, they can’t all be winners. (Philadelphia fans know this better than most.) Look at that call as a palate cleanser for what came next.
10:08 p.m. “They’re playing like a bunch of wimps, to tell you the truth. They’re not tough. They’re playing wimpy. I’m watching the Pittsburgh Steelers game and it looks like a track meet going up and down the field. The whole defense is chasing them. Now, talking about the New York Jets, I don’t think it’s going to be an easy game. You think it’s going to be easy covering Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall? It’s not going to be easy. ... I think this is the perfect set up for Robert Griffin coming to Philly. I think he’s going to be the quarterback next year.”
From wishing Todd Haley ran the offense, to being scared of the Jets, to the final statement of RG3 as the hope for the future, this call was a magical ride.
10:20 p.m. “18-33. That’s Sam Bradford’s record. And he’s our starter. This dude look like he scared. That interception he threw in the end zone, like, that guy is our starting quarterback. I’m not watching them no more. When I don’t watch them, they win.”
Is it really Chip Kelly’s fault the Eagles are terrible? Or is it the fault of this random guy watching them? That's a question for the experts to answer.
10:23 p.m. “How do you bring a guy in who has been out for two years and say: ‘Hey, you’re the starter’? I’ma tell you: Tim Tebow would have won that game today. He would have done better than the guy throwing the ball in the ground today.”
Surprisingly, most of the callers I had the pleasure of hearing did not bring up Tebow. Maybe because it’s so obvious now after watching Bradford that Tebow was the best quarterback the Eagles had that calling into a radio show to say so is akin to saying the sky is blue or that the Phillies lost.
10:25 p.m. “If you read the Cowboys starting report, it said the defense knows what our offense is running by the way the center holds his head before every play and when I heard that, I knew the Cowboys were going to win.”
Hey, caller, next time you get exclusive access to an opponent’s scouting report, maybe share it with your beloved Eagles so they can benefit from it, O.K.? The teams needs a lot of help. They have to play the Jets this week and they don’t have RG3 yet. It’s going to be difficult.
Quote of the Week
“I knew when I heard [Titans linebacker Brian] Orakpo say ‘Oh, shit,’ it was going to be a good play.” — Johnny Manziel, Browns quarterback, on his fourth quarter touchdown pass in a win over the Titans.
It’s too early to tell if Manziel is good enough to start in the NFL. Sunday was the fifth time he’s seen extended action in an NFL game and the first time anyone could say he played well—and still he completed only 8 of 15 passes at home against the Titans. But he’s clearly learning how to read NFL defenses. And Lesson No. 1 is that you always throw in the direction of profanity.
Stat of the Week
DeMarco Murray averaged 5.5 yards per carry in his rookie year with the Cowboys in 2011. Four years later, he’s averaging exactly 5.5 yards per game for the Eagles.
Everyone is dumping on Chip Kelly right now, but he promised an unorthodox offense. and you can't say he hasn't delivered on that. The Eagles offense is unlike any we've ever seen.
This Week's Horrible Fantasy Team That Crushed Your Team
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills — 23-for-30, 242 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT, 43 rushing yards, TD
Matt Jones, RB, Washington — 146 total yards, 2 TD
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots — 138 total yards, TD
Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars — 6 receptions, 155 yards, 2 TD
Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns — 3 catches, 115 yards, 2 TD
Crockett Gilmore, TE, Ravens — 5 catches, 88 yards, 2 TD
Press Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked
To Bill Belichick: “You weren’t accused of cheating this week for the first game in a while. Are you pleased with how the team was able to keep everything concealed?”
To Jeff Fisher: “Would you agree that following a win over Seattle with a double-digit loss to Washington perfectly captures the mediocrity that is your 22-year coaching career?”
To Jim Tomsula: “You grew up in Pittsburgh. How great was it to achieve a childhood dream of helping the Steelers win a game?”
To Chip Kelly: “Are you prepared to promise today that you will not take the Alabama job?”
Reader Twitter Question of the Week
Here is J.J. Watt running with the ball.
Here is J.J. Watt throwing a perfect spiral right to the hands of a fan in the upper deck.
I know Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer can't run like that, and all evidence suggests they can't throw like that either. At 0-2, the Texans need to try something. What do they have to lose, other than the lives of opposing defenders who try to tackle Watt?
It's time for the WattCat offense, Bill O'Brien. Say "F--- it" and make the move. (I know you're at least going to say "F--- it," as that's about 90% of your vocabulary, but please also play Watt at quarterback. Thanks!)
A Random Number of Random Things
1. Peyton Manning is old and washed-up and will only ever have one ring and he's in way too many commercials! I'm sorry, I mean: Drew Brees is old and washed-up and will only ever have one ring and he's in way too many commercials!
2. After breaking his collarbone in Philadelphia, Tony Romo said of Brandon Weeden: "I think he's ready." But what does Weeden think of becoming the starting quarterback of the Cowboys? He said it best last month:
Inspiring words from a very self-aware man.
3. Speaking of God, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made fun of Russell Wilson after Green Bay's win Sunday night, telling reporters that God helped the Packers win:
"I think God was a Packers fan tonight, so he was taking care of us."
Well played, Rodgers. But let's be clear: God doesn't care much about the outcome of football games. He's more into daily fantasy games on FanDuel and DraftKings. Use the code SALVATION to double your deposit and get eternal life.
4. When I played Little League baseball, there was a terrible player on the team whose dad gave him a dollar whenever he got a hit. Why do I mention this? Because the Saints have gotten into trouble in the past for having a bounty program, but maybe the NFL can consider looking the other way if Sean Payton gives his players a few quarters every time they gain positive yardage or make a tackle. The Saints need any extra help they can get.
5. What does Jay Cutler think he's doing? He threw a pick-6 on Sunday and then injured his hamstring trying to make the tackle. What an idiot! He's ruining his brand. Watch Cutler's effort two years ago on a pick-6:
See? He didn't try to tackle anyone, his hamstrings remained unstrained, and he lived to throw interceptions another day. Stop trying, Jay. It's unbecoming.
6. Jerry Jones on how he felt after Tony Romo's injury: "About as low as a crippled cricket's ass." So I guess that's where we are now in this country: shaming disabled crickets. First we reference them when a joke bombs, and now this. Jones may be pals with Chris Christie, but he talks more like a Donald Trump fan.
7. Pope Francis is going to Washington D.C., New York City and Philadelphia this week. As progressive as his papacy has been, it's clear the Catholic Church is still stuck in a time when the NFC East was worth attention.
Also, never do this again, Eagles fans. Don't think lightning bolts can't still be delivered like drone strikes.
8. The Giants have now lost two. One more and they're worse off than Jason Pierre-Paul. They need to stop being critical of him and let him play. To paraphrase the Pope's playbook, Matthew 7:3: "Why do you look at the missing fingers of that guy and pay no attention to that fact you're blowing yourself up?" Judge not, Giants. Judge not.
9. Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones is struggling. Any NFL teams who are attempting to #FailForCardale may be doing nothing but failing. So who else is out there? Christian Hackenberg? Nope. Cody Kessler. Eh, he just lost to Stanford. The quarterback market isn't great. And while it's foolish to draft a running back No. 1 overall, if a terrible team needs a catchy phrase to rally around, #Flub4Chubb might be the best we have this year.
10. The Colts and Jets play on Monday Night Football and Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano is ready:
"It’s Week 2 in the National Football League. It’s a 17-week season. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. When you win, everybody writes great things about you and when you lose, they come from all corners. You’re going to get a barrage from everywhere. That’s just the National Football League. We’ve got our blinders on, we’ve got our earmuffs on. Our total focus is on today and getting better today. We’ve got a great football team, we’ve got a great locker room. We’ve got great guys here and they work extremely hard day in and day out."
Ha-ha! Good job, Chuck. Intentionally parodying NFL coaches who speak in nothing but meaningless clichés is hilarious and an ingenious way to loosen up your team before an important game. No doubt they'll go out there now tonight and give 110%!