PHILADELPHIA -- As far as Chip Kelly is concerned, nothing before Jan. 16 matters. That’s the day he was hired as head coach of the Eagles.
That approach makes sense. Kelly has a big enough job preparing the team for the 2013 season. There isn’t much he can do to fix 2012.
But there is a bit of a disconnect at times for fans who watched the last couple years of Andy Reid’s tenure, as well as the media who covered it. Something about ignoring the mistakes of the past and being doomed to repeat it.
The disconnect “expresses itself,” as Kelly likes to say, in three major areas. All were on display in the third preseason game in Jacksonville Saturday night. All had fans reliving lowlights from that 4-12 nightmare last year. All had Kelly focused on the moment at hand and trying to resolve problems.
The three areas:
• Michael Vick’s return from the stratosphere. After winning the starting quarterback job with an unearthly 86.7 completion percentage through two games, Vick looked much more like the player we saw in 2011 and 2012.
That started with some breakdowns along the offensive line. Vick held the ball longer than he had in winning the job. He took two sacks and threw one terrible interception off his back foot.
But Kelly has said all along that he didn’t put much stock in watching tape of Vick’s previous performances. The coach was sanguine about Vick’s play in Jacksonville.
“There was great coverage,” Kelly said. “A couple of those were seven-man protections, so we didn’t have everybody out. Three-man routes. Jacksonville wasn’t blitzing, so there was great coverage. Part of being a great quarterback is making great decisions. If people are covered, I would rather our quarterback hold onto the ball than release the ball.”
• Bryce Brown’s fumble-itis. The rookie back fumbled the ball four times in 115 carries last season. That was the cloud. The silver lining was the promise he showed as a combination speed and power runner.
So there was Brown busting a run outside and streaking toward the end zone. And there was Brown fumbling at the 1-yard line. The ball went through the end zone for a turnover.
"I know it's been an issue in the past," Kelly said. "On that particular play, their defensive back put their hat on the football. He did have the football tight against his body. It was swinging a little bit early in the run. We talk about ball security all the time, we do ball security drills."
“Props to him for making a great play,” Brown said. “We spend a lot of time in traffic, keeping the ball when you’re in traffic. Everybody says (turnovers) will kill you. This team has turned the ball over a lot in the past.”
• The defense has gotten gashed for long runs. On the very first play from scrimmage in the preseason opener, New England’s Stevan Ridley burst through a huge hole for a 62-yard run. Later, LeGarrette Blount picked his way through the defense for a 51-yard touchdown.
So a chill went up the spines of Eagles fans when Jacksonville’s Jordan Todman ran 63 yards for a TD Saturday night.
“You look at the long run we had, we had two kids cut (blocked) and knocked down on the ground,” Kelly said. “One of the guys missed his gap integrity. And we had two guys take very poor angles to the football. We really didn’t get a hand on the guy. It’s all part of it when you look at that specific play.”
That’s how Kelly and, to a large extent, his players have to look at it. It was a play to study and there were mistakes to correct. Period. There is nothing to be gained by dwelling on previous struggles. The Eagles are likely to have only four or five starters from last year’s defense.
“It’s preseason,” said linebacker DeMeco Ryans, one of the returning starters. “Took some bad angles a couple plays. I feel like we’re good in the run game. It’s just a couple times we got cut or took a bad angle. It’s not like guys were screwing up the play totally.
“It’s easily fixable.”
With no more preseason action for Ryans and the starters, it’s going to have be fixed in practice.