Eagles Wake-Up Call: Morning Mailbag

chip-kelly-win-in-nfl-marqueeThis is history in the making. For the first time in Birds 24/7’s existence we’re combining the Wake-Up Call with the Twitter Mailbag. Sports journalism in this town may never be the same again. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From aerelorn: If we don’t see any improvement from Foles/Barkley this year, but our pick is too high for the top 2-3 QBs, what’s the plan?

I think the Eagles are going to be very aggressive in pursuit of a quarterback this offseason.

If Chip Kelly didn’t know it coming in, it’s ultra clear to him now that you are toast in this league if you don’t have a franchise quarterback. Might sound oversimplified, but it’s proven true time and time again (with a few exceptions along the way). No matter how brilliant the coaching mind or innovative the scheme, your team will have a hard time rising above mediocrity without a capable conductor.

(Quick quiz: Name the five quarterbacks that started for Nick Saban in his two years in Miami? If you guessed Joey Harrington, Gus Frerotte, Sage Rosenfels, Cleo Lemon and Daunte Culpepper, you win a limited-edition Sheil Kapadia bobblehead. Remember to include that  nugget the next time you’re in a ‘Saban sucked in the NFL’ conversation.)

Kelly will not be long for this league if he doesn’t resolve the QB issue. If only it were so easy. There have been franchises that have spent decades searching for “the guy.” I’m thinking the Eagles take a big swing. Maybe they package a ton of picks to move down in the draft, maybe they trade for a quarterback. Not sure how it happens but they will make a splash.

From @kuhndogg864: I know he doesn’t have a QB or all the players he needs but doesn’t explain the terrible play calls. How can Chip be so green?

A lot of it does go back to the quarterbacks. It was a credit both to Kelly and Nick Foles that the offense continued to hum with Foles under center — until it totally clunked out against Dallas. And last week featured Michael Vick on one leg and a wide-eyed Matt Barkley. 

That said, Kelly’s insistence on running the read option with Vick out of the game is puzzling. Defenses are crashing down on McCoy and it  just hasn’t been as effective.

“First of all, I don’t necessarily agree with that,” said Pat Shurmur. “I think when you read a defender, you can do other things with the football if you can’t run it.  You can flip it out on the perimeter.  You can run it with anybody.  You just may not get the same amount of yards you would get if a guy is a better runner.  And there are a lot of times when we’re not reading it.”

There is no disputing that the results haven’t been there of late, and that adjustments are needed. This is a pretty good offensive line (on paper at least) and LeSean McCoy is one of the best backs in the league and yet the operation has stalled in recent weeks. Kelly has to make some tweaks to what has become a predictable and solvable run attack minus Vick.

From @kwalsh2: why did the eagles aquire James Casey? Seems as though they don’t use him other than special teams.

Maybe this is one way Kelly and Shurmur can adjust. The Eagles were rolling with a lot of three-receiver, single tight-end sets because their run game was working very well without the extra bulk in the lineup. Not a lot of reason to switch out of the “11 personnel” if it is working for you and drawing the matchups you’re looking for. McCoy, though, has been held to 55 yards or less in three of his last four outings. It may be time to deploy more two and three tight-end sets to give the offense a different look and add some power to the run game. The Eagles invested a good amount of money in James Casey and a high draft pick on Zach Ertz. There is little reason why they shouldn’t get bigger roles, particularly given the depth issues at wide receiver.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Foles is trying to bounce back from a rough week.

The Eagles made the lone trade before the deadline, dealing Isaac Sopoaga to the Patriots. 

Barkley says he is like a shark that has smelled his first blood.

The Eagles fielded some offers but ultimately did not trade Vinny Curry.

Sheil hands out some midterm grades.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Phil Sheridan wonders if we’ve seen the last of Vick in an Eagles uniform.

And that was it. Vick retreated to the bench and put a towel over his head. The TV cameras caught him looking stricken or being consoled by teammates as Matt Barkley operated the offense.

Vick understands the situation. After this miscalculation and reinjury, he will likely take longer to rehab the hamstring this time. Factor in the Eagles’ bye week and it could be over a month before Vick is able to play. By then, with perhaps four games left, what would be the point of going back to the 33-year-old with the expiring contract?

DeSean Jackson is holding out hope that this team can make the playoffs. From John Gonzalez.

The Giants have won their last two games, but they started the season 0-6. Washington is 2-5 and still hasn’t beaten an NFC East opponent. And the Cowboys lead the division, but they’re 4-4. That puts Dallas only one game ahead of the Eagles in the standings.

“That’s definitely a goal, for us to make the playoffs,” Jackson said. “Throughout the locker room, the guys here, we haven’t made the playoffs the past two years. It’s just an inner goal that we put on each other. Like you say, no one in this division has really separated themselves. It’s a tight division. We just want to do everything we can to take advantage of that, and at the same time hopefully we can be one of the teams standing in the NFC East toward the end of the season. That’s just where our mindset is and that’s what we want to do.”

COMING UP

We’ll speak to Kelly this morning. Practice starts at 10:55.

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