Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reid returns to Philly, leads Chiefs against Eagles

 The past meets the future in Philadelphia on Thursday

Perhaps the greatest quarterback in Eagles history, Donovan McNabb, will have
his No. 5 jersey retired and will be inducted into the franchise's Hall of
Fame on the same night his old coach, Andy Reid, returns to the city he called
home for 14 years.

Reid, the winningest coach in Eagles history, will be on the opposite sideline
of Lincoln Financial Field for the first time when he leads his 2-0 Kansas
City Chiefs against his former team.

The veteran coach piloted the Eagles to a 140-102-1 record, notching six NFC
East division titles along with five NFC Championship Game appearances, and a
Super Bowl berth before family problems kicked in and familiarity began to
breed contempt.

"I have great respect for Andy," his successor in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly,
said Tuesday. "He was a head coach here for 14 years and if you're a coach in
the NFL, anybody that coaches in one spot 14 years, you kind of look to them
and say, 'Holy smokes.'

"You just walk down these hallways (at the NovaCare Complex) and look at the
championships that were won here -- the division championships, conference
championships, and what he's done -- he's had a huge impact on this
organization. I've got a ton of respect for him."

As badly as things ended for Reid in the City of Brotherly Love, time tends to
heal all wounds and he will eventually be recognized for what he was
in Philly -- a great football coach.

That said, enough time hasn't passed yet and while Reid will likely get a warm
reception, this is the game everyone in town has circled.

Call it the "Big Red Bowl."

"In this business you're focused in on getting your team ready to play, and so
that's where my energy is going to go," Reid said. "I haven't really thought
about that other part at all. I don't necessarily plan on thinking about that.
I want to make sure I concentrate on the game at hand and anything else
becomes a distraction and I'm not going to let that happen."

Reid comes in riding high after Alex Smith finished 21-of-36 for 223 yards and
a pair of touchdowns last Sunday, while Ryan Succop hit the deciding field
goal early in the fourth quarter as Kansas City nipped Dallas, 17-16, in a
Week 2 matchup from Arrowhead Stadium.

"When you're trying to build something, you need to win games like this," said
Smith. "These are the games you look at in November and December. You need
these types of wins, not only the caliber of the win but the style of win."

Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles combined for 104 yards and two scores on 12
receptions for the Chiefs, who were coming off an easy win at Jacksonville to
begin their 2013 slate.

Under Reid Kansas City has already equaled its win total from last season,
which was a dismal 2-14 campaign under Romeo Crennel, and the team has a
chance to advance to 3-0 for the first time since 2010.

Kelly, wowed people during a season-opening win over Washington which featured
a high-tempo offense that had everyone's head spinning. The rookie head coach,
though, stumbled with some game management problems in a Week 2 home loss to
San Diego, failing to utilize the clock to his advantage late in the game and
also admitting he didn't understand calling a timeout could have enabled him
to keep QB Michael Vick on the field for a key play after the veteran was
dinged up.

With the Eagles trailing by a field goal and just over two minutes remaining
Vick, who threw for a career-high 428 yards in the game, was slammed violently
to the turf by Chargers defensive lineman Jarius Wynn.

The hit came inside the San Diego 20 and forced Vick to leave for one play, a
2nd-and-10 try from the 14 with 2:09 left.

"The referee said I had to come off," he said. "I was back up and standing,
ready to play (but) the referee told me to come out."

Backup Nick Foles came on and lofted a fade pass into the arms of DeSean
Jackson, a nice outcome except it came three yards outside the field of play.
No doubt groggy and behind the 8-ball on 3rd-and-10, Vick couldn't get
anything done and the Eagles were forced to settle for a 32-yard Alex Henery
field goal to even things.

"I won't say I wasn't hurt," Vick continued. "I wasn't 'hurt, hurt.' If I am
standing up I'm not hurt. I'm ready to go. I think that was unfortunate for my
team but the referees are doing their jobs."

"I actually said we couldn't (call a timeout and get Vick back in the game),"
Kelly admitted on Monday. "I didn't think we could."

After the kickoff San Diego QB Philip Rivers had 1:45 to work with and that
meant game, set and match against a porous Philadelphia defense which allowed
539 yards in the contest.

"When you look at it in hindsight we didn't score. We kicked a field goal so
it was tied. We wanted to try to score a touchdown, go up four, and then make
them have to drive the entire field at that point in time," Kelly said. "So
obviously when you look back at it, we probably should have ran the clock

Jackson hauled in nine balls for 193 yards for Philadelphia while LeSean McCoy
registered 114 yards receiving on five catches and ran for 53 yards on 11
carries in defeat.

The Eagles lead their all-time series with the Chiefs 4-2, including a 2-0
mark in Philadelphia. In their only meeting at the Linc, the Eagles won 34-14
in 2009.


The honeymoon for Kelly in Philadelphia lasted all of six days. He was the
toast of the town after thumping Washington with his innovative offense in
Week 1 but some fundamental coaching flaws, along with his undermanned defense
cost his team a very winnable game against a lightly-regarded Chargers team.

"I've made mistakes," Kelly said. "I think we've all made mistakes. That's
what this game is all about. No one coaches a perfect game, no one plays a
perfect game. But you've got to learn from those mistakes and hope that they
don't happen again. We've been in these situations and say, hey, we've been in
this before, what did we do in that situation, didn't work out for us, so next
time when we come back, we don't want to do it again."

The Philadelphia team we all expected to see showed up against San Diego.
The Eagles offense remained dynamic but left a number of plays on the field
while the defense -- especially the pass defense -- struggled mightily against
Rivers and his favorite target, Antonio Gates.

The 539 yards allowed against San Diego were the most the franchise has
allowed at home since Nov. 11, 1962 when Vince Lombardi's Packers put up 628.
It's also the first time the Philadelphia D has given up more than 500 yards
at home since 1971 against the 49ers.

The final line of defense for the Eagles -- safeties Patrick Chung, Nate Allen
and rookie Earl Wolff -- was particularly bad and couldn't contain a receiving
group which lost its biggest asset, Malcom Floyd, to a scary looking DeMeco
Ryans shot to the head early in the third quarter.

"Right now there aren't any safeties on the street, I can tell you that,"
Kelly said. "So we're going to play with the ones we've got."

Some Philadelphia players privately groused that Rivers knew exactly what
defenses they were in, casting doubts on the inventiveness of defensive
coordinator Billy Davis' schemes.

"They'd get up, take a look, then come back, sometimes they checked, we
checked, and then they checked again," Kelly explained. "I think when you're
playing a quarterback like Philip Rivers, I think basically they put the game
in his hands and he was making a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage
depending on the looks we were presenting. That's what you get when you're
going against someone as talented as him."

Smith may not be quite as talented as Rivers but he is 21-5-1 in last 27 NFL
starts so the Eagles will be facing another savvy signal caller who is going
to key and diagnose rather quickly.

The problem for the Chiefs, however, is they don't have the type of dynamic
offensive unit that can win a shootout like San Diego did against Philly.

Bowe is a solid receiver and Charles is a home run threat out of the backfield
but Reid is using a more conventional approach to offense in Kansas City and
that means playing it close to the vest, limiting turnovers and winning games
late, a philosophy that may be untenable against the Eagles.

"It means a lot, so I hope we go out there and play for our coach," Charles
told ESPN. "You know what I'm saying? I know he has a lot of love for his
Eagles, he worked there a lot of years and he probably wishes he was still
coaching there."

Philadelphia's 954 total yards on offense currently ranks second in the
league, only 11 behind the Packers, and the team boasts the NFL's leader in
receiving, Jackson, as well as rushing, McCoy.

"This is a really good offensive system, and I think Chip proved that at
Oregon and it's based on really solid things," Chiefs defensive coordinator
Bob Sutton said. "You get caught up in the tempo, which they do a great job
of, but really the way the system is run is really good."

Disrupting Vick's timing is paramount and that's where the Chiefs' impressive
front seven comes in. Big nose tackle Dontari Poe has 3 1/2 sacks already this
season and has really elevated his game, while Kansas City features three Pro
Bowl linebackers: veteran Derrick Johnson and pass rushers Justin Houston
and Tamba Hali.


There is a growing concern in Philadelphia that Kelly might be the bizarro
Buddy Ryan in that he only cares about offense.

So far, it looks like Kelly's vaunted offensive schemes are translating well
but he rarely had to worry about "silly things" like the defensive side of the
ball or clock management at Oregon. The learning curve is going to be much
steeper than most thought in those aspects.

That said, even though Reid seems rejuvenated in Kansas City, the Chiefs just
don't have the firepower to win the type of game you can win against the
Eagles. Meanwhile, the short week of preparation works against a defense
trying to catch up to Kelly's tempo.

"There are great coaches in this league, and I think every coach probably
tells you on these Thursday nights that it is a quick turnaround and you just
have to go," Reid said. "It's something you have to do. You buckle down and
make sure that you get it done. Chip (Kelly) has done a great job there,
obviously, the numbers are phenomenal. It should be an exciting game."

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eagles 31, Chiefs 23

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