The Philadelphia Eagles lived and died on Chip Kelly's big-play offense. While the Eagles lived enough to win the NFC East and host the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 4, they died when they actually got to the playoffs. It seemed to work when Kelly called for a long bomb to DeSean Jackson with six minutes left, which led to a pass interference call that ultimately gave the Eagles a 24-23 lead -- yet they finally lost by 26-24 because of that gamble.
Because the Eagles scored far too soon, the Saints had plenty of time to get a winning field goal -- especially when Cary Williams committed a horse collar on Darren Sproles during the kickoff. It put the Saints past midfield, which meant they only needed one first down to get in field goal range, then run out the clock to win. Since New Orleans was actually better at the run than Philadelphia all night, it was an easy task.
Kelly should have anticipated that even before the Saints got the football back. He should have paid attention to how New Orleans was moving the ball all night, even when it wasn't scoring points. As such, when Philadelphia was down 23-17 with plenty of time left, Kelly should have known it wasn't time for one of his customary big plays.
A more experienced, playoff savvy coach would have adapted his game plan, drained the clock before taking the lead and forced much more pressure on the Saints. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Sean Payton is an experienced, playoff savvy coach who is a lot more adaptable.
Payton first proved himself by calling a timeout in the first quarter to stall an Eagles drive, breaking momentum and leading to a missed field goal. He then turned the Saints into a rushing team when Brees wasn't at his best, as Mark Ingram easily outperformed NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy. That advantage became huge in the final drive, given how the Saints ran the ball, killed the clock and put Shayne Graham in chip shot field goal range at the buzzer.
Kelly cost the Eagles a win the second he went for the big, way too early bomb to Jackson. If his regime really is going to surpass Andy Reid's in the future, he and the Eagles may need to learn from Payton and the Saints' example instead.