The room went dark.
Chip Kelly was in the middle of answering a question about why his once-vaunted inside linebackers couldn't cover or tackle worth a darn Saturday night when the lights started to dim, then shut down altogether.
For a few seconds, the windowless interview room deep underneath Lincoln Financial Field plunged into darkness as black as Eagles' fans feelings toward their third-year head coach, who had just ensured a second successive season with no playoffs by presiding over a 38-24 loss to the visiting Washington Redskins.
Then the lights came back and Kelly resumed his answer, which had something to do with injuries, even though Kiko Alonso, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks have been pretty healthy the entire second half of the season, as far as we know. Jordan Hicks went down with a season-ending injury, at midseason, and it turned out the rookie took any hope of defensive decency with him.
Have the lights gone out on the Kelly era? Team chairman Jeffrey Lurie wasn't around to ask, but he faces a huge decision after the season concludes with a meaningless trip up the New Jersey Turnpike to visit the Giants next Sunday.
Lurie's decision to hand personnel control to Kelly last January looks like a disaster. The offensive line is a crumbling mess built around declining left tackle Jason Peters (who suffered an elbow injury and gave up two sacks Saturday night). The receivers struggle to get open and can't hold onto the ball (nine drops and a fumble against mediocre Washington, which clinched the NFC East with the victory.) Penalties stall drives, when turnovers don't. The defense, on which so much offseason money was lavished, set a franchise record by giving up 34 touchdown passes, four of them Saturday night.
The view here still is that Lurie is in too deep with Kelly, has allowed the coach to rework too much of the guts of the organization, for Lurie to pull the plug this quickly, and that Lurie has no obvious Plan B. But so much is wrong with this team, and almost all of it traces back to Kelly decisions. How do you go into this coming offseason confident that the man who has made so many bad calls is going to suddenly start making good ones?
"We didn't play good enough or coach good enough to win a football game," said Kelly, who is 7-12 after a 19-9 start to his NFL coaching career. The 6-9 Eagles are assured of their first losing season since 2012, when Andy Reid was fired after going 4-12.
"It's unacceptable," Kelly said, when asked about not making the playoffs two years in a row. "It's 100 percent on my shoulders."
Asked if he worries about job security, Kelly said: "No. If it's not good enough, it's not good enough. I'm going to continue to work as hard as I can, show up early in the morning, stay late at night and continue to work. I don't think anybody in my situation would tell you – if they're worried about getting fired, then they probably should have already been fired."
Kelly said he would wait to address the larger-picture "what went wrong" questions after the season.
As has often been the case, his team tantalized fans with moments of competence Saturday night – such as a perfect opening drive for a touchdown -- that it ultimately buried under a pile of farcical misplays. It always seems unsporting not to credit the other team, and it's nice for 8-7 Washington that it turned out to be the best of a bad lot in the NFC East, but really, this loss was about the Eagles stopping the Eagles, on a night when Sam Bradford threw for 380 yards, despite the drops and his own miss of Zach Ertz on what should have been a long touchdown play.
The signature play of the 2015 season came with the Eagles trailing 23-17, facing third and 2 from their 29. Bradford's pitch clanked off DeMarco Murray's hands and was kicked along the ground by center Jason Kelce, pulling to block. It landed at the feet of Washington safety DeAngelo Hall, who picked it up and ran in unmolested for a 17-yard touchdown, making the score 30-17 with three minutes and 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Murray, of course, is the $40 million running back Kelly signed on a whim when his plan to retain wideout Jeremy Maclin in free agency didn't work out. And Murray was actually running with some pop Saturday – five carries for 27 yards, three catches for 24 more – until that awful sequence.
That was the knockout blow for an offense that had already taken the gut punch of a drop from Riley Cooper after Cooper seemed to have caught a 45-yard bomb on the Birds' first possession of the second half, when the deficit was just 16-10. It was Kelly who gave Cooper that absurd five-year, $22.5 million contract after the 2013 season.
The pass defense held up on the outside, despite lacking injured corner Byron Maxwell, but the rush was intermittent and coverage was rotten down the middle, as it was most of the season. Washington tight end Jordan Reed frolicked for nine catches, 129 yards and his team's first two touchdowns. Washington running backs caught eight passes for 79 yards and a TD. Kirk Cousins was 31 for 46 for 365 yards, four touchdowns and a 120.3 passer rating. It was the first time all season Cousins had thrown more than one TD pass in a road game.
"It just (stinks). It's been a rough year, obviously, the whole time," center Jason Kelce said. Bradford was sacked five times and faced pressure on most of his 63 dropbacks, the Eagles once again unable to mount a rushing attack. "Offensively, just so many self-inflicted things. You cannot win in this league as an offense if you're doing that. And it starts with the offensive line. False starts, bad snaps, is a problem we've had all season long, never got it corrected. Obviously, the dropped passes, turnovers. Were never really able to establish a solid running attack for most of the year. It's really a recipe for disaster. Obviously very frustrated. Obviously, this is not what any of us expected or wanted. But in this league, you will get exposed if you're not good enough and you don't play well."
"We didn't cover well. That was just the end of it," said Ryans, who bit on play action on Washington's first touchdown pass. "We didn't cover well. They made plays on us. That's it."
Ryans' take on the season?
"Up and down. Sloppy play. Just not good enough."