CHIP KELLY'S answer to people who questioned going for it on fourth-and-half-a-yard from his own 24 in the third quarter Sunday has been, basically exasperation - Kelly feels that with this offensive line and LeSean McCoy, if you can't get half a yard, you might as well pack it in, field position be damned.
How do the guys entrusted with gaining that half a yard, who didn't get it on Sunday, feel about that?
"I think he's absolutely right," center Jason Kelce said. "We should be able to pick up fourth-and-half-a-yard every time we run a play. That's our mentality, and that's obviously the coach's mentality."
"I feel the same way. I was so mad about not getting it," left tackle Jason Peters said. "It just came down to technique, hat placement. They loaded the box, but you know, 1 yard, it don't matter what they do, we should be able to get it. We watched the tape today. It was all about hat placement, being in the right spot, staying in the double team a little bit longer . . . Little bitty things that we've just got to clear up this week."
Kelce said after the game that he and left guard Evan Mathis were executing a double team, but Mathis had to leave early because a linebacker was crashing down.
The Eagles ran McCoy on third- and fourth-and-1. The third-down play, he bounced outside and seemed to land on the first-down stripe, on TV. McCoy was marked well shy of the 25, and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said yesterday that McCoy definitely was short, which was why the Eagles didn't challenge the spot. (Watching it again, it was McCoy's elbow that struck first, perhaps inches short of the 25, maybe a foot beyond where the ball was spotted.)
The fourth-down play went inside and on TV it was impossible to tell anything, except for the fact that McCoy's helmet and torso ended up over the 25.
"He made the right cut and hit it up in there. It looked like he got it," Peters said. "But they spotted the ball a little short."
Kicking around options
Chip Kelly said Monday that the Eagles' mortar-style kicks - high and short, dropped behind the first line of opponents - worked better as an anti-Cordarrelle Patterson strategy than the squib kicks, bunted along the ground. It was the squibs that were returned the longest, and roused fans' ire, the Eagles ceding the Vikings generous field position.
These strategies might remain relevant, with the Eagles facing Devin Hester on Sunday night, possibly without special-team stalwarts Colt Anderson (knee) and Kurt Coleman (hamstring).
"On turf, the mortar's a little easier [to hit] than the bunt ones," kicker Alex Henery said yesterday. He said the squib kicks on turf tend to slide more quickly, and not bounce around crazily, as they sometimes do on real grass, which the Birds will play on at home this week.
Henery said a mortar kick "is just like hitting a high approach shot into a green; you've got to hit it higher, whereas in a normal kickoff, you're trying to drive it - it's just like hitting a pitching wedge into the green . . . the more hang time, the better. They take a lot of skill. If you're off 5 yards here or there, you either hit it out of bounds or you hit it right down the middle of the field [to the returner you were trying to avoid]."
"I thought the mortars, I did pretty decent on. And we covered 'em pretty well," Henery said.
Was Henery surprised at the vehement public reaction?
"I just go out and kick the ball," he said.
With three members of the secondary dinged, the Eagles made a roster move, bringing up safety Keelan Johnson from the practice squad and releasing linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who is eligible to take Johnson's practice-squad spot. Johnson, cut by the Dolphins just before the season, has been with the Eagles ever since. Monday, perhaps knowing something was up, he tweeted: "All they really gotta do is give me my shot! Feel me?" Apparently, Howie Roseman did . . . Safety Kurt Coleman said "there's a chance" he'll play this week after suffering a hamstring injury Sunday. "It's not as bad as we thought it was" initially. But it still would seem a stretch . . . Bill Davis said safety Colt Anderson (knee) is "week to week."