1. As you know by now, Marcus Mariota is staying at Oregon for another year. Chip Kelly was asked today about his former QB’s decision.
“Yeah, I’m happy for him,” Kelly said. “I know he comes from a great family. His mother and father value education. He’s going to stay and get his degree. He’s a really special young man. Everybody in the league will have to wait a couple years. I loved coaching him. He’s exactly what you want in a football player. I know everybody in Eugene is happy. Eugene is a special place. Take it from a guy who had a real tough time leaving there, I think it’s a good decision.”
Mariota (6-4, 211) has completed 63.1 percent of his passes this season with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also run for 582 yards (7.2 YPC) and scored nine times.
Kelly recruited Mariota, but said he did not consult with his former QB on his decision.
“We’re not allowed to talk to guys about that,” Kelly said. “I had nothing to do with it. They have a great plan in place at Oregon. Mark Helfrich does a great job there. I’m sure he provided them with everything he needed. I did not talk to him about any of that stuff.”
2. The Lions have only given up 15 sacks this season. They have the second-lowest sack rate in the league, per Football Outsiders. Only the Broncos have been better. According to Kelly, that has more to do with Matthew Stafford than Detroit’s offensive line.
“I think a lot of the sacks, we’ve said it, I’ve said it, a lot of sacks are on your quarterback and a lot of not getting sacks are on your quarterback, too,” Kelly said. “And the one thing with Matt Stafford is how quickly he gets the ball out of his hands. He’s got one of the quickest triggers in the league where he can get the ball out.
“He’s been with that system since he’s been there. He has a great understanding of what they’re doing. He knows where his receivers are. If you try to blitz him…I don’t know why he doesn’t get enough credit. I think he’s one of the top quarterbacks in this league. …It’s the quarterbacks sometimes that hold the ball a little bit too much that are going to take the sacks. But Matt, that ball is coming out pretty quick and he can rip it.”
The numbers back up Kelly’s claim. Per Pro Football Focus, Stafford gets rid of the ball on average in 2.47 seconds. That’s tied for fourth-quickest in the league behind Peyton Manning, Chad Henne and Andy Dalton.
But look for Billy Davis to still pick his spots to send pressure. Stafford has completed just 50.4 percent of his passes and averaged 5.9 yards-per-attempt against the blitz, according to STATS, Inc.
3. Nick Foles is starting to get some MVP buzz. Bill Barnwell of Grantland offers up his top candidates, and he’s got Foles fourth behind Manning (1), Russell Wilson (2) and Calvin Johnson (3):
No, really! Foles is 5-1 as the Eagles starter, and his one loss came in a game in which he suffered (and likely played through) a concussion. He leads the league in yards per attempt and passer rating and has thrown 19 touchdowns against zero interceptions. Now, let’s say the Eagles run the table and win their next four games to win the NFC East, and Foles keeps up his level of play. If Foles is sitting there at the end of the year with the league lead in two key statistical categories, a 9-1 record, an NFC East title, and something like 30 touchdowns against one interception … don’t you have to think that he would at least be in the running for MVP?
Barnwell makes a strong case. We keep waiting for the numbers to fall off, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Of course, you could certainly make the case that Foles isn’t the most valuable player on the Eagles. I would argue that the distinction goes to LeSean McCoy.
The question comes down tho this: Would the offense be better served with Michael Vick/McCoy or Foles/Bryce Brown?
Tough one. But even though Foles has been lighting it up, I think I take the former. Feel free to chime in with your vote in the space below.