Chip Kelly is big on versatility. That is no secret. It has been the buzzword since he took office. He wants his starters to be malleable, and he insists that his reserves are capable of performing multiple duties.
“When you only have 46 guys active on game day, you’ve got to have versatility in your non‑starters, because there’s just not enough numbers,” Kelly explained. “If you’re two deep at every position, you know, that’s 44 excluding specialists. And at some positions, you’re going to carry a third, a third running back, so where does that spot come from? It’s got to come from somewhere.”
Howie Roseman allowed that the back of the roster was shaped largely in the name of versatility. It wasn’t just about whether the individual could play multiple positions (the fact that Danny Watkins was working exclusively at guard didn’t help him), but also whether his skills overlapped with someone else’s on the team. It is part of the reason why Emil Igwenagu is here instead of Clay Harbor. Why Casey Matthews won a job over both Chris McCoy and Emmanuel Acho.
“We were looking for different skill sets in the back of the roster,” Roseman said. “So some of the conversations we had about the fourth outside linebacker applies at this moment to the tight end spots.
“…When you talk about a Casey Matthews possibly if you got in a bind in a game, he could play outside. When Chip talked about the versatility of the back of the roster, we didn’t want to duplicate a lot of skills. So that’s what made some of the choices at the back of the roster, maybe some guys who played well in the preseason but maybe they were duplicating the skills that some of the guys we had. Did it make sense to keep them or try to find guys that did some different things?”
The consensus is that Acho outperformed Matthews this preseason. The second-year linebacker had at least a share of the lead in tackles in three of the four preseason games, including an 11-tackle performance against the Jets in the finale. However, Acho is more of a run-stuffing inside linebacker. Matthews can presumably play in space better. Same for Najee Goode, who was claimed off waivers from the Bucs Monday and took Acho’s spot on the roster.
Special teams also matter. As Sheil has pointed out, Matthews was second on the Eagles in special teams tackles last year. Receiver Jeff Maehl, chosen over Russell Shepard and Greg Salas, is also being billed as someone who can contribute on special teams.
The fact that both Maehl and Matthews played for Kelly at Oregon certainly didn’t hurt their chances. But the guess here is that they are on this team (at least for now) mostly because they give Kelly more options than the alternatives.
Kelly is a man of logic, and there is logic in building a roster with players that can plug multiple holes.
There is also logic in sacrificing some flexibility in the name of quality. Is it better to have “player x” who is not as good but can fill several roles, or “player y” who might not be as versatile but is better at his primary assignment?
Kelly seemingly chose “player x” a few times over the past few days. Time will tell whether he made the right choice.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles signed LB Goode and released Acho. Sheil has the details.
Six of the eight practice squad slots have been filled.
Local and national writers examine the recent roster moves.
Some background on new cornerback Shaun Prater.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Griffin received clearance from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews on Thursday evening to play in the season opener, but Shanahan declined at the time to declare the second-year quarterback his starter because he said Andrews told him there were “a couple of concerns that he had” and that he needed to talk with Griffin over the weekend first.
Shanahan declined to share the details of the discussion or what “concerns” Andrews had shared…
Andrews denied Shanahan’s claim Friday, saying in a text message, “None of it is true. No concerns.”
Told on Monday of the doctor’s declaration and asked why Andrews would have said that, Shanahan scoffed at the notion Andrews had no concerns and said, “I don’t know where you got that information from because that’s not what he shared with Robert. That’s not what he shared with me or Dr. Christopher Annunziata, Dr. Anthony Casolaro or with Robert when we had the conference call.”
Danny Watkins may have found a new home.
Former Eagles 1st rnd pick Danny Watkins will sign w/MIA. Guard visited Fins, was getting interest from other teams after clearing waivers
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 3, 2013
His agent stressed that a deal still wasn’t in place as of Monday night.
Practice for the Redskins begins on Wednesday. Regular season football is drawing near.