Dec 14, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly before the start of the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
It’s highly likely that all of the naysayers will be eating crow by the end of next season.
The negative outcry from many Philadelphia Eagles fans, the Philadelphia media and football experts alike has reached ridiculous levels. People need to let Eagles head coach Chip Kelly do his job. We all asked for a change from the Andy Reid regime and now we are receiving.
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Agreed, at the first mention of losing players like running back Lesean McCoy, quarterback Nick Foles, receiver Jeremy Maclin, and even receiver Desean Jackson (last year) it’s normal to wonder what the hell Kelly is doing. These players were the bright spots of the Eagles offense for the past couple years. The problem is that they were the best players on an offense that was just not good enough. Even with the stellar play of Foles, McCoy, and Jackson in 2013, did Eagles fans really think the team could beat the Green Bay Packers (with quarterback Aaron Rodgers) or the Seattle Seahawks had the Eagles advanced further into the playoffs? There’s always a chance, but probably not–especially with a subpar defense.
An argument could be made that losing Jackson was the biggest hit the Eagles have taken thus far. It seemed that the offense as a whole was drastically different in 2014 because Maclin did not demand safety help, which in turn allowed defenses to stack the box against McCoy.
As of 10pm on March 12, 2015, Chip Kelly has overhauled the Philadelphia Eagles for the better, but he still needs to find his future Desean Jackson.
In general, people seem to be pleased with the defensive changes Kelly has made. Releasing cornerback Cary Williams, allowing cornerback Bradley Fletcher to walk, signing linebackers Brandon Graham and Kiko Alonso, then signing cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond all appear to be steps in the right direction. Securing a strong safety and another outside cornerback should put the Eagles where they need to be.
The offensive alterations are a different story. Why did the Eagles trade Nick Foles and a 2016 2nd-round pick (the 2nd-round pick is the one that matters) for the Ram’s quarterback Sam Bradford? The main reason is that Foles could not execute to Kelly’s liking. Foles was slotted to be moved a while ago, and the extension of quarterback Mark Sanchez confirmed Foles’s departure.
Enter Sam Bradford. He was rookie of the year in 2010, had two poor seasons in 2011 and 2012, then looked to be improving in 2013 before getting injured for the second half of the season, and finally missed the entire 2014 season due to injury. His track record is not the greatest, but to those whose job it is to study football players all day every day, his skill set presents promise. There’s no doubt that Chip and his team evaluated every quarterback that was eligible to be acquired. There’s also no doubt that Chip thoroughly investigated the status of Bradford’s surgically repaired knee. After all of the options were proposed and discussed, Kelly decided Bradford could give the Eagles the best chance to win more than ten games in a season. When we reflect on how good Foles was in 2013 it is difficult to grasp how the Eagles would need to include draft picks along with Foles to get Bradford, but without including that 2016 2nd-round pick, Kelly may have lost him to the Cleveland Browns or a couple other teams that were also willing to gamble on Bradford. The bottomline is that Kelly did not want Foles, so if Bradford is successful the Eagles only gave up a 2nd-round pick, but should Bradford get hurt or fail, the Eagles basically only lost a player that they didn’t want anyway in Foles (3rd or 4th-round picks would come back to the Eagles if Bradford doesn’t pan out). This is definitely not a high-risk way for the Eagles to see if they found their franchise quarterback.
The latest additions of running backs Demarco Murray and Ryan Mathews should tell us that Kelly will get back to his old ways of pounding the football. Murray is probably the sole reason the Dallas Cowboys made the playoffs in 2014. Kelly had to take notice that his defense was absorbing the brunt of an offense that could not move the chains. Murray and Matthews-combined will cost the same as McCoy would have next year, but hopefully they can find their holes and hit them because Kelly sent McCoy packing partly due to his “dancing” around at the line of scrimmage.
Eagles fans should be encouraged that Chip Kelly does not want to chase down Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mortgaging the Eagles franchise for his former quarterback would make it seem like Chip does not understand the ways of the NFL. Instead, Chip honed in on a veteran quarterback that can hopefully make all the throws and execute his vision. Eagles fans should cringe every time they hear an expert or media-figure insist on Kelly having to find his “mobile” quarterback–it’s utter nonsense. The reason football teams have athletic running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends is so the quarterback can get them the ball so they can do the running.
It’s funny to think that fans are willing to surrender players and several valuable draft picks for a quarterback prospect (Mariota) that is not even the consensus #1 quarterback in a draft that is very weak at the position, yet they are ready to hang the coach who has been a winner his entire career and delivered back-to-back 10-win seasons in his first two years as an NFL head coach for trying to retool a team that needs retooling.