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Eagles pitiful in 20-10 loss to Cowboys

The offense produces seven yards on 17 rushing attempts as the Eagles are inept in their home opener and fall to 0-2.

Sam Bradford reacts after throwing an interception.
Sam Bradford reacts after throwing an interception.Read more(David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

CHIP KELLY looked small and pale, standing behind a Lincoln Financial Field lectern in the aftermath of the worst 20-10 loss in the history of the National Football League.

The only thing at the Linc that looked more colorless and slight than Kelly yesterday might have been his run-based offense, which totaled 7 yards on 17 carries in the most futile effort of the Kelly era - 15 carries for minus-2 yards on runs that weren't Sam Bradford scrambles.

It was a game in which Dallas, already without star receiver Dez Bryant, lost quarterback Tony Romo to a broken collarbone with 9 minutes and 44 seconds remaining in the third quarter, didn't score an offensive touchdown until the final minutes, was penalized 18 times for 142 yards, and still had victory well in hand for the entire second half.

"When they were at negative-14 yards rushing, I wanted it to stay there but unfortunately, it didn't happen," Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey said (chortled?). "We gave up those yards toward the end, and I wish we could have just walked away with the negative-14, I wanted that."

As the Eagles sit at 0-2 for the first time since 2007, this doesn't have the feel of a team that just needs for a few new parts to mesh a little better. This feels more like the culmination of a series of really poor personnel decisions, particularly on offense, and maybe a miscalculation by Kelly about how much culture matters in pro football, when weighed against talent.

"Nothing worked today," said Kelly, who also said his offense "didn't play today."

"We'll see," Kelly said, when asked if he has the right offensive personnel on the field. Asked if he got rid of too many playmakers in his quest for interchangeable parts, Kelly said: "I don't think so."

"We saw what they were going to do all week. The point is to go out there and get it done, and we went out there and pissed on our leg," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "There was nothing surprising about what they did at all. We knew they were going to slant and stunt. That is what they do. They try to create confusion in the running lanes. That is what they did."

"This has been about as poor a performance as I can recall ever seeing in this league," Fox analyst Troy Aikman told a national TV audience.

The Eagles said all week, after an opening loss Monday night in Atlanta in which they couldn't run inside the tackles, that this was not a matter of defenses figuring out how to defeat the blocking on their basic, undisguised inside zone read plays.

If that is still the case, then they must not have offensive linemen who can make the necessary blocks. Unless they find a few sitting on a curb somewhere, their 2015 offense would seem to be doomed.

"The running backs didn't have time to assess whether there was a hole," Kelly said. "Too much penetration up front. Too many guys in the backfield."

Oh, and inside linebacker Kiko Alonso is getting an MRI on his left knee this morning, after leaving the game in the first half. Alonso, expected to be among the Eagles' most dynamic defensive players, the rising star the team got when it traded all-time leading rusher LeSean McCoy to Buffalo, left less than halfway into his second game back from a 2014 left ACL tear.

Nobody in the NFL ever gets a knee MRI where the doctors say, "Hey, whaddaya know, everything's fine."

But as huge a loss as Alonso will be, accompanied yesterday by a hamstring injury that took Mychal Kendricks out of the game, the Eagles' defense really is beside the point right now. It didn't play badly, given that it was on the field for 40:30.

Nothing will matter defensively if the offense plays this way.

"It obviously doesn't get any worse than this on offense," said center Jason Kelce, who snapped the ball before Bradford began his cadence, with 7:15 left and the Eagles trailing 13-3, causing a fumble the Cowboys recovered. This was the first play after Byron Maxwell ripped the ball away from Dallas tight end Gavin Escobar; Malcolm Jenkins scooped it and ran it to the Dallas 30. The stadium was ever so briefly alive. Then it wasn't.

"That was the worst rushing attack I have ever been a part of here," Kelce said, leaving open the question of where else, exactly, he might have been a part of such a debacle. Kelce told reporters he thought he had heard the snap count, which is an odd thing to be wrong about in your own stadium. "We have got to get this fixed up front. We have to get it better."

Kelly said offensive linemen, coaches and everybody else will be scrutinized as the Eagles prepare to visit the Jets next week.

In his second start, coming off back-to-back ACL injuries, Bradford proved he isn't ready to hoist the team upon his back. That would be the most generous interpretation of his performance, which included a strike thrown into the belly of Dallas linebacker Sean Lee in the back of the end zone, on second and goal from the Cowboys' 3, with 5:24 left in the third.

This was the series after Romo went down, on a sack and forced fumble by rookie linebacker Jordan Hicks, who was playing because of the Alonso and Kendricks injuries. A touchdown then could have turned the tide, but Bradford could not deliver it. Later he missed Nelson Agholor badly on what should have been a touchdown throw.

Bradford (23-for-37 for 224 yards, a touchdown and two picks) said: "It looked like Sean Lee had his back turned to him, so I gave (Ertz) a chance and somehow I threw it to (Lee), and he made a great play."


Kelly said there was never any discussion of replacing Bradford with Mark Sanchez.

The Eagles, who take pride in their highly regarded special teams, managed to get a Donnie Jones punt blocked and run in for the first Dallas touchdown. They gave up their final TD on a 42-yard slant from backup QB Brandon Weeden to Terrance Williams, who was filling in for Bryant, Williams streaking past Maxwell with the Eagles in an all-out cover-zero blitz.

Atlanta and Dallas have different defensive schemes, but both emphasize penetration up front. The two-gap system the Eagles' offense practices against does not, so the plays probably look a lot different than they looked on the practice field. As was the case in Atlanta, stunts and twists seemed to totally mystify the Eagles.

"Clearly as an offense, we're out of sync, and we've got to get it going," said right guard Andrew Gardner, who replaced Todd Herremans, released in the offseason. "We're not getting it done right now, and we've got to turn it around quick.

"Sometimes guys just weren't getting the block, and sometimes there was an extra guy coming free."

DeMarco Murray, the ex-Cowboy who led the NFL in rushing last season, had 2 yards on 13 rushing attempts. He now has 21 carries this year for 11 yards, a little better than half a yard a carry. It doesn't seem to be his fault, at all. Murray seemed visibly frustrated on the Eagles' sideline at least a couple of times.

"I am frustrated with losing," Murray said. "I think that every guy is frustrated, we're just not making the plays we have to as a unit . . . The defense played a great game. Offensively, we have to do better."

"We're not putting up many yards, so I guess we're not very good right now, as of today," Johnson said. "Right now we're at the bottom of the pile. The only way we can go is up. It's no time to point fingers right now; we've got to come together as a unit, figure things out, try to turn it around for next week.

"I just feel like we're in a daze right now. Coming off the success we had in the preseason games, I thought we looked pretty good. I think people started to believe that, and thought we were just going to come out there and start to steamroll people. That's not the case in this league. Everybody's good."