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Chip Kelly's swagger is gone

The beleaguered coach of the Eagles looks confused and bewildered after another lopsided, desultory loss.

DETROIT - The swagger is now completely gone, replaced by the look of someone who has just discovered he was headed south all the time he thought he was driving north.

Confused, tormented, forlorn - Chip Kelly looked and sounded like a man who had taken a left turn into hell as he took questions from an assemblage that he no longer regarded with bemused antipathy. If there was nonsense in the room - and there was - it was coming strictly from the podium now as he reached deep into the book of clichés to explain the unfathomable, and the unthinkable.

He needs to put players in better situations. They will look at film and find out what happened. They all need to look in the mirror following the second embarrassingly one-sided loss in less than a week, this one a 45-14 beating from the now 4-7 Detroit Lions.

"I don't think anybody . . . I didn't see this happening," Kelly said in barely more than a whisper. "I wasn't coming in here thinking, 'Oh my God, this thing is gonna really get away from us.' I thought we had a chance of really competing."

They didn't. Not even close. Not even when the score was tied, or Detroit's lead only was only 10 early in the second quarter was the vibe anything but one of holding on for dear life. For the second game in a row, a second-tier quarterback threw for five touchdowns and recorded a gaudy passer rating. For the second game in a row, the Eagles couldn't run the ball and couldn't pass it that well, either. For the second game in a row, key players like Jason Peters and Nolan Carroll left the field due to injury, and some of those who fought through it, like Jason Kelce, were clearly not the same players who began this once-hopeful season.

"Hopefully we have a lot of guys who are going to stay on board," said Kelce, whose left leg, from upper thigh to below the knee, has more shades of red and purple than a desert sunset. "I trust everybody in here more than anything. And I will fight to the death with all the guys in here. But right now the product on the field is absolutely embarrassing. The last thing we need, the last thing a team ever needs, is separation. We've got to hone it down, get back to the film room, get things corrected and find out."

That was what this stretch against three cupcakes was supposed to be about. Beat Miami, Tampa Bay and Detroit, head into December with a little mojo and a hold on first place. Instead, the now-4-7 Eagles play New England, Buffalo and Arizona in consecutive weeks, their focus no longer on making the postseason, but on not turning on each other.

"You hope that everybody's buying in," Kelce said when someone else asked about team unity. "I think we have good leadership on this team. I think we have guys who can keep this team together. The reality of it is that this season has not gone the way anybody expected going into it. It's been absolutely horrendous. But the worst thing you can do as a team when things go like this is to separate. Or start saying things. Or start thinking you understand more than the coach does, or that you understand what's going on.

"This is a group effort any time you get your ass kicked like this."

It can't get worse than this. Can it? Even against Tom Brady and the undefeated Patriots nine days from now? A 45-14 loss to a three-win Lions team four days after a 45-17 loss to a four-win Tampa Bay team that followed a one-point loss to a three-win Miami team. Over the last three weeks, the Eagles have managed to lose to a franchise that fired its coach in midseason and another, the Lions, that fired its general manager, team president, offensive coordinator and two line coaches a month ago.

Kelly was right about one thing:

That Dallas game was no turning point.

In fact, needing overtime to beat a team that was missing Tony Romo and a few key players should have been a harbinger of what has taken place since. This is a team so in free fall that it is virtually impossible for one side of the ball to point fingers at the other. It's a well-oiled cliché for players to speak of "all having a part in this," but it's 100 percent accurate when it comes to the Eagles.

If blame was a turkey, that carcass would be all bone by now.

"There's not much to say here," said Billy Davis, the once-again embattled defensive coordinator. "I do believe in the men we have. I do believe - I said it last week - we'll get it corrected. And we will. The guys are fighting. It's going to take all of us to get us out of the hole."

Yes, it will. A hole that has expanded from pothole to sinkhole over the last three weeks, gobbling up any chance, realistic or otherwise, of making the playoffs.

But at least they have the element of surprise working for them now.

On Twitter: @samdonnellon