The Kelly Calamity

It’s no secret the Eagles aren’t doing well—and there’s one man to blame for that.

If there’s anyone in Philadelphia who’s actually happy with the odious brand of football being practiced by the local side these days, it’s probably deposed G.M. Howie Roseman. The former overmatched personnel executive’s reputation has been burnished by the amateur-hour roster moves and contract follies of Chip Kelly. Roseman likely sits in his office, curating Eagles football cards and cataloging old-timey equipment while filling pads of paper with various iterations of, “I told you so!”

Beyond Roseman, there may be no one in town amused by the Eagles’ plummet from respectability. Everybody expected catastrophe from the Phillies, Flyers and Sixers, although it was impossible for anybody to predict Jahil Okafor’s wild 108 mph ride. But back in the summer, when fans could be heard chanting, “In Chip we trust,” despite last season’s 1-3 stagger through the last meaningful part of the schedule, the expectations were high. There were still media members who hadn’t understood that the rest of the NFL had caught up with Kelly’s Pac-12 approach to football.

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As the Eagles continue their dramatic sag to Kotite-level incompetence, all while boosting the stats of quarterbacks fortunate enough to line up across from the team’s bumbling defense, the real culprit in all of this maintains his silence. Instead of stepping up and answering why he turned over the city’s favorite sports franchise to someone who had never been paid to stand on an NFL sideline before, The B Movie Producer stays hidden, probably watching V.I. Warshawski on an endless loop and pining for the days when he could keep the team $10 million under the salary cap and still reach the NFC title game.

It’s convenient to blame Kelly for the Eagles’ travails. He is the architect of a roster largely devoid of star talent and a system that might not be suited for big-time college ball any longer. But the real blame for the developing debacle belongs to owner Jeffrey Lurie. He went against decades of NFL convention that league experience is vital for success. No matter how innovative someone may seem, relying solely on scheme and tempo, rather than talent, is asinine.

The last three weeks of Eagles football have been so dispiriting for local fans that people are actually rooting against them. Long-time supporters are refusing to watch the games, as a highly anticipated season has deteriorated into an embarrassing collection of blowout losses and unanswered questions. The Birds haven’t even reached New England yet—that potential humiliation comes Sunday.

If Lurie is interested in protecting his brand—his previous behavior indicates that the potential for earning money trumps the desire to win—he must get rid of Kelly and install a legitimate NFL GM-coach hierarchy that doesn’t include Roseman at the top. He can’t allow Kelly to offer up defensive coordinator Billy Davis as a sacrifice or accept a personnel director to prevent him from lavishing another gigantic contract on an overwhelmed free agent (I’m looking at you, Byron Maxwell). There must be a clean break, before the clock on a potential return to competitiveness is turned back even further.

At its core, Kelly’s system is rudimentary and his lack of NFL coaching and player acquisition experience put him at a disadvantage. Were the NFC East not such a joke, the team could be miles from playoff consideration. No matter how bad the neighborhood is, the Eagles are worse. Quite simply, Lurie cannot allow another season to pass this way.

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El Hombre’s roundup: Bar fights and high-speed bridge crossings are no way to go through life, Jahlil. If the Sixers first-round pick doesn’t clean things up, the team might force Okafor to stick around for a few years. … New Red Sox first base coach Ruben Amaro is rumored to be interested in giving free agent Chase Utley a four-year $60 million contract. For some reason, Boston brass doesn’t think that’s a good idea. … Hats off to first-year Penn coach Steve Donahue, whose Quakers are 4-2, with a big win last Wednesday over La Salle at the Palestra. It’s early, but Penn looks like it might make some Ivy League noise.

El Hombre, sometimes known as Michael Bradley, fights for truth and justice in the world of sports from his secure Main Line world headquarters. Throughout his storied career, EH has worked tirelessly to get The Story, no matter how many people it might anger or how much hate mail may result. El Hombre courts controversy, traffics in strong opinion and delights in making arcane “Animal House” references. Listen to him before every Eagles contest on the 97.5 The Fanatic Pre-Game Show. Follow him on Twitter at @DailyHombre.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie

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