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Eagles coach Kelly a victim of own genius

For the record, Bills head coach Rex Ryan started another winning streak in press conferences Wednesday morning at One Bills Drive.

Ryan was back to his typically playful self. He smiled for a reporter’s cellphone camera, joked about food, praised Manny Lawson’s intelligence, made his usual comments about Clemson football and went on twice as long as he had a week earlier, when it seemed half of Buffalo wanted him fired.

His counterpart in the week’s game wasn’t nearly so engaging. Sure, Chip Kelly is coming off a big upset at New England. The Eagles are tied for first in the NFC East despite a 5-7 record. But Kelly was brusque and combative in a conference call, the sign of a man who has been under constant siege.

It seemed Kelly’s main objective was to shoot down every prevailing notion about his situation in Philly. Oh, and be careful of that word “situation.” When someone asked him about managing his running back situation, Kelly acted as if he’d been asked to solve the world refugee crisis.

“I’m confused with the question,” he said.

That’s how it went for much of the session. Someone would ask Kelly a tough question and he would dismiss it as irrelevant or accuse the questioner of operating under a “false assumption.”

Kelly reminded everyone that he’s not technically the general manager, though he has full power over the Eagles’ roster. He said he didn’t address his team last week about his name surfacing for virtually every open college job. He said he told the players he wasn’t going anywhere as part of a wider speech about “perception and reality.”

He said it’s a misconception that running back DeMarco Murray met with team owner Jeffrey Lurie after the Pats game to complain about a lack of touches. Murray, who signed a five-year, $40 million free agent contract in the offseason, ran the ball eight times for 24 yards last Sunday.

“He didn’t have a meeting with him,” Kelly said. “He just happened to be sitting next to him on the plane on the ride home. so it wasn’t an orchestrated meeting or anything from that stretch. He just had a conversation with him.”

Well, it’s good that we cleared that up. Who cares if Murray said it on an airplane, in an office or standing on his helmet in the locker room? The guy is unhappy about the way Kelly is using him.

Of course, Kelly has only himself to blame for the Murray situation. He’s the one who traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills for Kiko Alonso last March, creating the need to replace one star running back with another – in Murray’s case, a less elusive runner who wasn’t as suited to Kelly’s offensive system.

Kelly wants us to believe he had no issues with McCoy, despite a widespread belief that he and “Shady” didn’t see eye-to-eye and that he felt McCoy wasn’t enough of a straight-ahead runner. Not surprisingly, he wouldn’t address McCoy’s contention that he was quicker to unload black players.

“I have no problem with LeSean,” Kelly said. “I think the world of him. I think he was a great player here. I really enjoyed coaching him and I’ve got great respect for him.”

Kelly said the trade had “nothing to do with LeSean’s ability.” He said it had more to do with roster construction, contracts and “how many players you can get for the price of one.”

That doesn’t explain the fact that Murray makes roughly the same salary as McCoy does with the Bills. So when Kelly said it’s wrong to assume that McCoy didn’t fit into his vision for the Eagles – another media misperception – it’s hard to take him seriously.

Well, let me walk out on a limb with this assumption: Kelly got his butt kicked on the McCoy deal. He essentially traded the Bills their MVP, replaced him with a guy (Murray) who has underachieved and is whining to ownership about his role, and turned a very good offense into a popgun attack.

Forget assumptions. Here are the facts, right out of the NFL’s weekly statistical report: The Eagles are 16th in the NFL in total offense and 29th in yards per play. Last year, they were fifth in offense and 11th in yards per play. Two years ago, in Kelly’s first year in Philly after a stellar career at Oregon, the Eagles were second in offense and second in yards per play.

You don’t hear yards per play quoted much, but it’s a significant stat. Just because Kelly’s offense runs plays at a more rapid pace than other NFL teams doesn’t mean it’s running them well. If you’re gaining more yards per play than only three other teams, your offense stinks.

The Bills are averaging half a yard more per play and .7 yards more per rushing attempt than Philadelphia this season. Their quarterback rating is some 20 points higher. The Bills are more dynamic at the quarterback, running back and No. 1 wide receiver positions.

Kelly has done a remarkable thing. He has turned himself into a much worse offensive head coach than Rex Ryan. Lately, the Bills have been playing the sort of offense that should make Chip envious.

These things happen when you start to believe in your own myth. Kelly was going to reinvent offense when he came to the NFL. He went 10-6 his first two years. But he decided his genius could prevail without paying huge money to elite offensive players.

He said goodbye to star wideout DeSean Jackson, then McCoy and his other stud receiver, Jeremy Maclin. McCoy accused Kelly of being quick to get rid of black players. It seems to me he was quick to unload highly priced skill players who happened to be black (which is generally the case in the NFL).

For a supposed genius, Kelly sure screwed up a good offense in Philly. He did invest big money in Murray after unloading McCoy. Shall we inspect those numbers? Murray, who led the league with 1,845 yards last year in Dallas and averaged 4.7 yards a carry, has 569 yards and a 3.5 average per rush in Philly.

McCoy got off to a slow start with the Bills because of injuries, but over the last five weeks he’s returned to top form. He’s rushed for 488 yards and 5.2 yards a carry in his last five games. He’s averaging 123 scrimmage yards, roughly what he did during his best years with the Eagles.

Kelly said he has no issues with McCoy. He said he tried to call Shady after the trade, but his calls weren’t returned. McCoy said he has no reason to speak with Kelly. He said they didn’t have much of a relationship. Kelly said he would shake McCoy’s hand after Sunday’s game. McCoy cursed at the notion.

I don’t think it’s assuming too much to say McCoy would love to put up big numbers against the Eagles in a Bills win Sunday and essentially shove it in his former coach’s face.


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