PHILADELPHIA -- It may be a dubious distinction -- being the best player on the worst defense in the NFL -- but it’s a start.
“The one thing you have to realize is Cedric Thornton is probably playing our best defensive football right now,” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said. “I think Ced had five tackles on Sunday, so you’re getting a lot of production out of him.”
Thornton had the Eagles’ only sack of Peyton Manning, one of precious few highlights in a 52-20 loss. Manning has been sacked just twice in the last three games combined.
“That was a pretty glorious moment,” Thornton said. “I just feel like it means nothing. We lost, it’s behind us. We’re just trying to sack Eli [Manning next Sunday].”
For his sack, Thornton bull-rushed up the middle. He pushed Broncos center Manny Ramirez into Manning, then reached over and pulled the quarterback down.
“[Thornton is] playing with great effort,” Kelly said. “High motor. Great technician. Very rarely is he out of position. He’s putting it all together.”
As the Eagles make the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme, players who adapt quickly are rewarded with playing time. Thornton’s performance, Kelly said, is a key reason Vinny Curry has not seen much action.
Thanks, but no thanks. In 2006, Giants coach Tom Coughlin heard about a bright offensive coordinator at the University of New Hampshire. Coughlin offered Chip Kelly a quality-control position on his staff. Kelly declined.
“I wasn’t coaching a position,” Kelly said. “When you get to a point where I was, doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you’re designing offenses, you’re calling plays. Even though it’s a huge step from going from New Hampshire to the Giants, that was it.”
A year later, Kelly accepted a job as offensive coordinator at Oregon. Things worked out all right.
Stuck in traffic. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis admitted he got caught with the wrong personnel on the field for a few plays when Denver had two tight ends on the field.
“That was my mistake,” Davis said. “I believed they were in three-wide receiver personnel.”
As a result, slot cornerback Brandon Boykin had to slide in and man a spot usually occupied by an outside linebacker.
“I’m giving up 145-50 pounds,” the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Boykin said. “I’ve been in that situation before as a nickel. I know what to do. You just try to hold your ground. I feel like if I can hold my ground, I can get the guy down on the ground.”
The Broncos ran the ball thanks to those mismatches, but Boykin wasn’t the weak link.
“Brandon did not hurt us in the run game,” Davis said.
Boykin bruised his shoulder covering a punt Sunday. He was limited in practice Wednesday, but said he would be ready to play against the Giants.
Bad sign. Former Eagles defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, who signed with the Giants in the offseason, described the end of his time in Philadelphia in a conference call with reporters.
After Kelly was hired, Jenkins said, players texted each other to find out what they were hearing and whether they’d been contacted by the new coaching staff. When he didn’t hear anything, he drove to the Eagles’ facility himself.
“I figured I’d go out and reach out to the coaches,” Jenkins said. “I went up and the secretary went into the office. Coach Kelly was talking to [GM] Howie Roseman. I heard him say, 'Have I met him yet?' That’s when I knew there was a good chance I wasn’t in their plans.”