DETROIT – Chip Kelly took a lonely walk from the Eagles' locker room at Ford Field to the team bus Thursday afternoon with his bag hanging over his shoulder and his team falling apart. He had just watched the Eagles' 45-14 loss to the Detroit Lions, and he was minutes away from reviewing the carnage. He signed a few autographs for fans waiting beyond a fence, but there was little adulation for the coach whose approval ratings are as low as they've ever been.
The Eagles needed only four days to show that the season could get even worse, that the frustration of the fans could still grow, that the trust in Chip Kelly is becoming more tenuous by the day. And they've offered little evidence for optimism that the season can be salvaged.
"I told them we don't have _ and I don't think anybody has _ any words that will make you feel good right now," Kelly said.
"Rightly so. We got beat today. We have five games left ... that will determine where we are as a football team. We need to get our heads right here in the next couple of days."
It would be understandable if Eagles fans never bothered seeing the score go final and tried to salvage what was left of Thanksgiving. Because here's something that won't make them thankful: The Eagles are 4-7. They've lost three straight games. They're getting worse by the week. And their next opponent is the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
In two weeks, the Eagles have allowed 90 points. They've scored only 34 points in the last 11 quarters. For the first time in Kelly's three years in Philadelphia, the Eagles have reached seven losses.
There was humiliation in the Eagles' locker room after the game. They offered similar sentiments last week. What else is there to say?
"It's a freaking embarrassment on national TV to come out with a performance like this," defensive lineman Bennie Logan said. "Forty-five points put on us back-to-back? It's disgusting."
It's the first time in Eagles history that an opponent scored more than 40 points in back-to-back weeks. For the second consecutive week, the opposing quarterback passed for five touchdowns. This time, it was Matthew Stafford, who finished 27 of 38 for 337 yards. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught eight passes for 93 yards and three touchdowns. The Lions totaled 430 yards and possessed the ball for more than 37 minutes.
Kelly said that Bill Davis will remain the team's defensive coordinator.
"There is no easy answers to correcting this, and there are going to be tough decisions that are going to need to be made, tough things to swallow," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "People are going to really have to look at themselves and be critical. There is no easy road to fixing this. That's going to come down to seeing what this team is made of man by man, and that is coaches and players alike."
The problem was not only the defense. The Eagles' scoring has dropped from 19 points to 17 to 14 during the last three games. The offense totaled only 227 yards Thursday. And the defense was on the field so much because of the offense's inability to convert first downs. Detroit had 28 first downs; the Eagles had 14.
"We've got to help the defense," said wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who led the Eagles with 60 receiving yards and one touchdown. "We can't continue to have three-and-outs, and now they're back on the field. Those guys are human, too. They get tired."
The game was lost in the second quarter. The Eagles tied the score at seven 34 seconds into the period, but they entered halftime trailing by 17. The Lions scored two touchdowns and a field goal on three second-quarter drives. The Eagles had two three-and-outs.
"We just got behind the sticks," said quarterback Mark Sanchez, who finished 19 of 27 for 199 yards and two touchdowns. He also fumbled once. "I thought we matched their effort. We just didn't quite execute the way we wanted to. That was unfortunate."
When the Eagles defense needed to make a stop before halftime, Stafford hit Johnson for a 25-yard touchdown pass on third and 17. Johnson, one of the best receivers in NFL history, was single-covered by rookie Eric Rowe, who replaced the injured Nolan Carroll.
Just like last week, the Eagles defense started the second half on the field _ and waited a long time to come off. They allowed the Lions to march 80 yards on 12 plays over 7 minutes, 51 seconds. Stafford connected with Johnson for a 4-yard score to take a 31-7 lead.
From that point, the only question was how much uglier the game could get. A late touchdown kept the loss from the biggest margin of defeat since Kelly came to Philadelphia.
"We all have to take accountability ... but it starts with me," Kelly said. "I'm not pointing fingers at anybody."
A season that started with such promise has devolved into the worst of Kelly's tenure. And the Eagles might not have reached the bottom yet.