Kelly's logic gets a little foggy in loss

PHILADELPHIA -- The fog of war affects football coaches during games sometimes. Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly was working under that fog during Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

In the game's pivotal sequence, right before the Eagles kicked a go-ahead field goal with two minutes left, Kelly's decision-making is open to question. The Eagles had driven the length of the field and had a first down at the Arizona 11-yard line after a LeSean McCoy run.

Foggy moment No. 1: McCoy, who led the NFL in rushing last season, was taken out of the game and replaced by Chris Polk for two plays. Polk had exactly one carry earlier in the game, his first of the season. He did well, running up the middle for six yards. That set up second-and-4 from the 5-yard line.

Polk got the handoff again from Nick Foles, who was in the shotgun. Polk ran off the right tackle, then cut inside. He was brought down near the goal line, then tried to lunge forward over the goal line. The officials marked the ball midway between the goal line and the 1-yard line.

Kelly was asked if he considered asking for a review of the spot right there.

"Yeah, they said they couldn't get an accurate look from the cameras," Kelly said. By "they," he means his assistant coaches on the press box level, including coordinators Pat Shurmur and Bill Davis, along with Frank Kosman, Kelly's assistant dedicated to replay review issues.

On the broadcast of the game, FOX's sideline camera from the left was blocked by Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper and Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie. FOX showed a second angle, which was from a bit behind the first one. It was hard, in real time, to see where the ball was when Polk's knee comes down.

On the next play, a third down, the Eagles needed just inches for a first down and no more than two feet for a touchdown. McCoy came back into the game for Polk. Foles lined up in the shotgun again.

Foggy moment No. 2: Why not have Foles under center and have the 6-foot-6, 243-pounder try a quarterback sneak?

"Yeah, I tried that against Dallas last year and it got shoved up our tails, so I wasn't going to run that again," Kelly said.

As Rich Ashburn used to say, that's hard to believe, Harry.

It's true. Late in the second quarter of the Eagles' season finale at Dallas, Foles was stuffed on a quarterback keeper from the Cowboys' 1-yard line. But that was on a fourth down, so there was no second try. Besides, if Foles threw an incompletion, would Kelly never pass again? It seems hard to believe one failed quarterback sneak would inspire the coach to tear the play out of his playbook.

Kelly had a better argument. The Cardinals had nine defenders stacked in the box. With backups David Molk and Matt Tobin playing in the middle of his offensive line, Kelly may not have felt confident those guys could get the push necessary to get Foles across the goal line. That still doesn't explain lining up in the shotgun, so the ball is snapped back to the 6-yard line. Foles handed off to McCoy, who ran right into the heart of the Arizona defense for a slight loss.

At that point, Kelly had the two-minute warning to decide whether to try once more for a touchdown or kick a 20-yard field goal.

Remember, in December, the aggressive Kelly went for a touchdown near the end of the first half in Dallas.

"We felt like with the ball on the half-yard line, we've got to be able to punch it in," Kelly said after that Dallas game. Eleven months later, the coach felt differently.

There were some other questionable play calls and decisions. Late in the second quarter, the Eagles had the ball just inside Arizona territory. With six seconds left in the half, Kelly punted rather than attempt a long field goal or a pass. Again, a coach with a reputation for being aggressive chose to be timid.

The fog of war does that sometimes.