As Seattle and its elite defense mauled Peyton Manning and his record setting offense on Sunday, Chip Kelly had to feel further away from a Super Bowl title than he did before kickoff.
In a Super Bowl matchup of the top offensive and defensive units, Seattle showed that when it comes to championships, maybe defense still does win it all — which is bad news for the Eagles.
As Seattle showed on Sunday, in order to win in the NFL, you still need an elite, game changing defense. The Eagles may have shown this season that they can score with the best of them, but to get to the Lombardi trophy, it is now more clear than ever that the defense needs to quickly improve.
By hiring Kelly last season, the Eagles bet on offense being the more important unit in the NFL right now, and the unit that needed to be elite to win a championship. They even went with Kelly over Gus Bradley, who was the defensive coordinator of the Seattle defense when he interviewed. It was a coaching choice between a flashy, offensive genius, and a hard nosed, defensive mind.
Few will tell you the Eagles made the wrong decision. Kelly was brilliant in his first year, and the Eagles have plenty to be optimistic about. Still, seeing the defense come out victorious in a battle of top ranked units certainly isn’t a great sign for the Eagles and the direction this franchise has decided to take.
Had Denver won on Sunday, you could have looked at it differently. The Broncos defense was 19th in yards and points allowed per game this season, but was playing on Sunday due to the offense. The Broncos nearly showed this season that with a top rated offense, the defense might not have to be that great to win.
Then Seattle showed up.
Seattle didn’t have a ton of fire power this season on offense, especially with Percy Harvin out for almost all of the year. In fact, only two teams that made the playoffs ranked lower than the Seahawks did this season in total yards per game. An average, borderline boring offense didn’t matter, however, as the Seahawks paired it with a defense that was the heart of team. With the top rated defense, however, Seattle’s offense needed to do just enough instead of carry the team — something this Eagles offense had to do far too often this season.
The good news is that the Eagles already have some of the pieces to put together a puzzle like Seattle. Much like Russell Wilson — who had just nine interceptions this year — Nick Foles doesn’t turn the ball over. The Eagles can run the ball, something Seattle counted on heavily throughout season. The Eagles even have a coach who comes from college, just like Seattle.
To take the next step, they just need a defense like them as well.
The Eagles might not be as far away on defense as one might think, but there is no doubt that the defense is still pretty far behind the offense right now. For most of this season, that looked like it might not matter. With the rules they way they are, many thought that this was now a league where you win with offense — and a great defense is just an added bonus.
For at least one night, Seattle put the brakes on that talk.
And because of it, the Eagles seem a little bit further from winning it all then they did before.
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks