Twitter Mailbag: On Vick, Foles And the Secondary

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @ZainSaleh24: how do you feel the eagles did in the draft? Any picks you would change?

Overall, feel pretty good about it. So much rests on that Lane Johnson pick. The words “raw” and “upside” were some of the first out of Chip Kelly‘s mouth when officially announcing the selection. You would prefer a more sure-fire prospect at No. 4. But there were no players on the board that fit that description. Ziggy Ansah has only been playing football since 2010. Star Lotulelei had the heart-condition scare. Tavon Austin is only 5-8, etc. Everyone had some kind of question mark attached.

I like Zach Ertz‘s chances of thriving in this system.  He is the type of chess piece that Kelly can use to create all sorts of matchup problems.

Then there is Matt Barkley. Fourth-round picks can definitely help your team. Brandon Boykin and Alex Henery were both recently found in Round 4. Jason Avant and Todd Herremans before them. Howie Roseman used a fourth-rounder to net DeMeco Ryans. Another was sent in a package to Buffalo for Jason Peters. It’s not like they can be treated as throw-a-ways. That said, there is no guarantee that you will land an impact player. Think Trey Darilek or Jamaal Green. Your odds decrease the further you get into the draft.

Could be that Barkley never pans out. There is also chance, however remote, that he can be a franchise-changer. Even if it’s a longshot, it’s worth the bet that late in the draft.

From @DJ_Hardy009:  your gut feeling, week 1 the eagles starting qb will be _____________.

Michael Vick.

Talk to some of the people around the signal-caller, and you’ll walk away with the impression that the 32-year-old is dialed in. He is aware that the end is near, and is motivated by the challenges that both Kelly and Father Time are presenting to him. The best Michael Vick is the one who needs to prove himself. The early word is that he looks very good on the practice field.

Kelly may not need his quarterback to be mobile, but he sure would prefer it. All things considered I think Vick does enough to win the starting job. Whether he can hold onto it is an entirely different conversation.

From @TheFortycent: no trade of Foles yet, any chance they’re holding him as trade bait during the season when a starter gets hurt to up his value?

No, if he was going to be traded I think it would have been done by now. Kelly has publicly stated that he likes Nick Foles and wants a chance to work with him. I was told Howie Roseman personally called Foles amid all the trade speculation to express that the team wanted to keep him. From what I gather the Eagles were approached by at least one team regarding a potential trade, and weren’t all that interested in engaging in talks.

Vick is only a short-term option and Barkley hasn’t played a snap. I believe Kelly when he says that he wants to see what he has in Foles.

From @PerfectionistPA: who will start in the secondary?

Good question. Right now I would pencil in the free-agent acquisitions as the starters: Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung at safety, Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams at corner. I am anxious to get a look at Phillips in action to see if he is still dealing with knee issues. The fact that the Eagles got him for so cheap raises some concerns.

I’m curious to see if fifth-round draft choice Earl Wolff can get in the mix for playing time. Also, it’s worth noting that seventh-rounder Jordan Poyer played inside a bunch at Oregon State. Could he put the heat on Boykin?

“I think he had six picks this year as a nickel,” said Kelly. “He has a lot of experience playing inside and covering slot receivers. He’s a tough, physical, hard-nosed player.”

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Twitter Mailbag: On Geno, Manti Te’o And the Honey Badger

A day late on the Twitter Mailbag this week. A little busy yesterday. But that turned out to be a good thing because there is a ton of intrigue and several big names tied to rounds two and three. Much to chomp on, so let’s get to it.

From @TomWelke: Will Geno not coming back to the green room cause mental makeup questions and cause him to drop more?

I would hope that the Eagles — or any team in the NFL — would rely on the information they have been gathering over time, and wouldn’t be swayed by something like that. If that moves you off your position, then you didn’t have much conviction regarding Geno Smith to begin with.

If I am honest, some of what I have seen/read in the run-up to the draft has given me pause when it comes to Smith. I know Philadelphia, I know the scrutiny that the quarterback position receives, and I know that Nolan Nawrocki’s evaluation will seem like a four-star review compared to what Smith is going to hear in this town (or elsewhere) after a couple down Sundays.

We take those 140 character bites, or watch his body language through the television, and draw sweeping conclusions. But the truth is, it is unfair to judge a man’s character based off such limited evidence. He could very well have an iron will, and may turn a few moments of adversity into years of fuel to the benefit of the franchise that drafts him.

The Eagles have met with him, analyzed his game, talked to people around him. They should have a sound understanding by now of who Geno Smith is, and likely don’t care whether or not he shows up to Radio City Music Hall tonight.

[The latest report suggests he will be in attendance.]

From @penseur76: Will the Eagles select Jonathan Cyprien? Geno Smith? “Tank” Carradine? or surprise pick with Te’o? in 2nd.

I would imagine Smith is in play assuming he’s still on the board at 35. They made an organizational decision to pass on him at 4 and probably thought he would land elsewhere. But at this point, it might just be considered a good value pick. Would you doubt that the Eagles have a first-round grade on him? And how many other of the remaining players could you say that about?

I’m not ruling  Manti Te’o out, either. This guy was recently regarded as one of the top players in the country. Then came the championship game and the stories about his personal life, and that stock plunged big time. Two questions: Is he a fit for Chip Kelly‘s defensive scheme, and does he have thick enough skin to endure all the attention/ribbing he’ll receive in a major market? If the answer is yes on both fronts, then you might be getting a steal.

Outside of those two marquee names, I could see the Eagles going with Stanford tight end  Zach Ertz, Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien, Florida State DL/OLB Tank Carradine, Texas A&M DE/OLB Damontre Moore,  or Mississippi State corner Johnthan Banks.

From @Jfr1978Josh: Any chance we select the Honey Badger?

The Eagles believe Tyrann Mathieu is a draftable player, but you really have to do your homework on this guy and figure out where you would be willing to pull the trigger. This is a first-round talent with red flags coming out of his pockets. Is he on the straight and narrow? If so, what are the chances he stays there? Big questions that I am sure every team has looked into. The answers mean everything when it comes to this prospect.

There is a point where he probably becomes too enticing to pass up. But I’m not sure that point comes on Day 2.

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Twitter Mailbag: Tackles, Trades And Dion Jordan

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @ChefOrnicador_: Is Miami a true candidate to trade up if Eric Fisher is still there at #4?? They have two second round picks.

I can see the Dolphins trying to trade up, definitely. They hold the 12th overall pick and will likely have to move into the top seven to grab one of the three coveted tackles (Luke Joeckel, Fisher and Lane Johnson). But honestly? I’m starting to have my doubts that Fisher will still be there at 4. In a first round full of question marks, one thing that teams seem to agree on is that the tackles are quality options. Maybe Jacksonville or Oakland takes Fisher. Maybe a team leaps into the No. 2 or three hole and snatches him (the Raiders apparently wouldn’t mind trading out),  but it’s quite plausible that two of the tackles are off the board by the time Philly is on the clock.

From @Ryeboat: with talk of the top 3 OT going possibly in the top 8 picks, what are the chances the Eagles trade down for more picks?

If the tackles are as hot as insiders seem to think they are, then you probably stay put at 4 if you want one. If Fisher and Joeckel are both taken with the first three picks, it won’t be long before Johnson (and maybe D.J. Fluker?) are picked off.  I can see the Eagles moving back if Joeckel and Fisher are gone and they aren’t as high on Johnson, or if tackle isn’t the target in Round 1. I don’t anticipate them trading out of the top-10, whatever the case may be.

Howie Roseman seems to think that there are quality tackles sprinkled through the latter rounds. He also seems to think (as others do) that pass-rushers will be harder to find outside of the first round. Maybe that influences their decision if they are choosing between two players with similar grades.

From @aerelorn: What do you make of Dion Jordan’s career stats: 0 interceptions and only 2 pass breakups. Is his coverage ability overrated?

Jordan is one of those pass rushers that could be available at 4. I have concerns about him being overrated, period. He had a total of 14.5 sacks at Oregon. (Jarvis Jones, by comparison, had 14.5 last season alone). Yes, Jordan was dealing with a shoulder injury for much of last year and had to transition from the offensive side of the ball to defense early on, but you would prefer that your top-5 pick had better numbers overall. With Jordan, you have to project. But as Chip Kelly points out, that is true to a degree for all draft picks.

“It’s easy to go hindsight and say we knew this draft was this.  But you really don’t know,” said Kelly. “It’s the same process that we went through in college.  If you look at what are the top 5 or six players in the draft, they weren’t the top 5 or six high school players five years ago.  Dion Jordan is one of the top players out there, and we were smart enough at Oregon to recruit him as a wide receiver.  Now he’s going to play outside linebacker, defensive end in the NFL.  You look at Lane Johnson, who was a high school quarterback, and now he’s an offensive tackle who is a top pick, the list goes on and on.  And Ziggy Ansah was playing basketball and went to BYU to play basketball, and now he may be a Top 10 pick.”

The key is trying to figure out which players have the best chance of developing, and eventually thriving at this level. Kelly will surely have an opinion or two on Jordan in that respect, having coached him at Oregon.

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Twitter Mailbag: Pondering A Tavon Austin Pick

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @heemy224:  each year the Linc has that huge photo of a player on the stadium symbolizing the face of the team.Who is the face of the Eagles now?

Funny you should mention that. I was driving past the stadium with my wife recently and we noticed that there is only one of those long, vertical images attached to the outside of the Linc at the moment. I believe the jersey number was 25 but it didn’t have a real likeness to LeSean McCoy. From what I gather those are designed to be generic and not represent any specific player, but didn’t one just recently closely resemble DeSean Jackson? Am I crazy?

Anyway, I think the answer is that no player is the face of the franchise right now. And the Eagles aren’t trying to force one, either. They’re focused on selling the name on the front, not the back, at least until a clear-cut leader emerges (likely in the form of a franchise quarterback).

Consider their three top-selling jerseys from 2012:

1) McCoy
2) Jackson
3) Michael Vick

McCoy is coming off that ugly Twitter exchange with the mother of his child, Jackson is a risky bet, and Vick has not been guaranteed the starting job (plus he has one year left on his deal). There is no reason to try and heavily market any of those players right now.

What I also found interesting is that Brian Dawkins‘ jersey was very competitive this past season in terms of percentage sold. Yes, he had his number retired, but it also speaks to the connection fans continue to feel with No. 20, and maybe the lack of connection they had to last year’s team as well.

With no player standing above the rest, the face of the team has to be Chip Kelly. There is a freshness and an excitement surrounding the new head coach, and I fully expect the Eagles to embrace that.

From @aerelorn: I’ve seen more than one person mock Tavon Austin to the Eagles at 4 or after trading down. How likely do you think that is?

So Kelly has gone through the game tape of all these potential picks by now, you would imagine. Picture him in a dark office. The projector comes on. Up flashes cut-ups of Austin. Darting through traffic. Cutting, stopping, starting. Embarrassing Division I athletes. Lining up in the backfield. Returning punts. Returning kicks. Scoring touchdowns.

It’s enough to give an offensive junkie the shakes, right?

I am sure the powers-that-be have talked about him, and I’m sure I am not the only one that wonders if he can be Kelly’s NFL version of De’Anthony Thomas.

The Eagles have been adamant that they plan on taking the best available player. It is not inconceivable that they have a very high grade on Austin. If they stay true to the plan, maybe they would take a skill position player over, say an offensive lineman,  if they truly felt he was best available. (Would anyone be shocked if Austin won Rookie Of the Year, by the way?) It all depends on that top-secret draft board of theirs.

While this draft in particular is difficult to project, it seems likely that the Eagles could trade back a bit and still snare the West Virginia receiver if that’s their target. I am not predicting it happens, but I can’t say I would be shocked.

From @Barltrop19: if a team offers the Eagles enough for them to trade down to mid 1st, who do they take? Hope OT Johnson or DT Star falls?

Even if Austin is not their man it is certainly possible they trade out. (Sheil has a good breakdown of what they could potentially get in return.)

The most likely scenario to me would be if Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are both off the board by the time they are on the clock. They might be able to move back a few spots at that point and grab OT Lane Johnson or a player with a similar grade. Star wouldn’t be a bad bet, either.

My sense is that teams feel there is a drop-off after the first 11 or 12 picks, so I don’t anticipate the Eagles moving too far back if they decide to give up the No. 4 spot.

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Twitter Mailbag: With the Fourth Pick, the Eagles Select…

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @tomlindlar: Can you see Cole or Curry succeeding as a 3-4 end? Do you believe that their speed would negate the fact they’d be undersized?

The recent buzz suggests Chip Kelly will try Curry at defensive end rather than linebacker. I am curious to see how that experiment goes. On the plus side he worked under defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro for a year at Marshall, so there is some familiarity there. And Curry has added some bulk and definition to his frame this offseason, though the plan was to come in at the same playing weight as last year — around 270.

Curry seems a little light to be a traditional end in a 3-4 base defense. But teams aren’t in their base as often as you might think, and Billy Davis will likely use multiple fronts to keep the opposing offense guessing. Curry could be a good option in passing situations.

“Whether my hand is in the dirt or I’m standing up, I promise you I will be prepared for both,” Curry said.

There has been plenty of debate surrounding Cole. Some argue that the team is stuck with a piece that doesn’t fit because he has an unmovable contract. The sense I get is the Eagles legitimately want him to be part of the equation, and will find a way to make it work. It makes the most sense to have him play outside linebacker on the open side, where he can serve primarily as a pass rusher. I wouldn’t count Cole out quite yet.

From @Fightinz: What is Jason Peters’ status? Will he ever be sprinting downfield for a third block in one play again?

All the news has been positive regarding Peters’ recovery from a double Achilles rupture, and Kelly anticipates that his left tackle will be ready to participate in the upcoming offseason workouts.

“What I was told was that they think he should be pretty good when he gets here April 1,” said Kelly. “Everybody when they get in there needs to be checked out.”

In other words, the Eagles are hearing good things but still haven’t gotten their eyes on him.

Peters is a freak athlete, so it is plausible that he regains his Pro Bowl form. But he is 31, and the Eagles would be wise to invest in the future sooner rather than later. Which leads us to…

From @ZainSaleh24: Star, Jordan, Milliner, and Fisher are there at four, what do YOU do? Pick one of them? Trade back?

Out of this group, I would take Fisher (I would consider Sharrif Floyd if he were available as well). I keep going back to Kelly’s quote from his days at Oregon, when he said “The five offensive linemen are the key to your football team.”

The tackle position is thin on this roster. Peters is 31, Todd Herremans is 30, and they are both coming off major injuries. Even if you are confident these two will play the entire year and play well, big picture the position is screaming for attention. Fisher could conceivably play right tackle to start (pushing Herremans inside, where he is at his best) and eventually take over at left tackle when Peters hits his decline.

It is a position of need, and you can argue that Fisher is the best available player regardless.

From @Jonzee72: What sort of record next year do you think is expected all things considered? 4 wins? 6? More? Less? Or just playing better?

We asked Jeffrey Lurie what his expectations are for Year One of the Chip Kelly era.

“I don’t think you can institute a complete culture change and implement everything Chip wants to accomplish just by having one training camp and one offseason,” the owner said, “but we’re just awfully excited about what he brings to it and his obsession with it. His manner of analysis and thinking is refreshing and very bright. And we hope that is reflected as time goes by.”

You can tell just by that quote alone that the Eagles are in this for the long haul, and realize there could be some growing pains as the Kelly way is implemented.

That said, I believe Kelly to be a smart and resourceful coach, and I expect this team to be competitive. No idea how that will translate in terms of win total. We are still a ways out from the regular season.

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Twitter Mailbag: On Geno, Cason And Safety Strategy

 Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @JohnBarchard: If the Eagles take Geno Smith at 4, how many boos will we hear on draft day? Does that send a more ‘we can win now’ message?

It would be a hotly-debated selection for sure. I think the only message it would send is that the Eagles believe Geno Smith can be a franchise quarterback. You don’t burn a pick that high if you are not thoroughly convinced of this.

It all comes down to what Chip Kelly thinks of him. It doesn’t matter whether pundits believe the West Virginia product deserves to be selected at No. 4. If Kelly thinks he will shore up the most important position in football, then he makes the move. You don’t pick this  high in the draft very often. If you can get your hands on a franchise QB, you do it.

There will be boos and there will be disagreement if the Eagles select Smith. But then, there were boos back in ’99 as well. You do what you think is right for the organization.

From @estberg_jamie: What are the Eagles plans for safety and cornerbacks because they seem pretty weak in free agency?

My best guess is that they will wait for the draft to net another safety. Howie Roseman told us that there are more safeties with draftable grades in the upcoming NFL Draft than there have been in recent years. They added Patrick Chung to the safety mix already to go with the likes of Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson. Add a safety on the first day of the draft, and the position looks a little brighter.

I’m still thinking that the Eagles grab another corner off the free-agent market. Antoine Cason  (6-1/195/26) is one name to at least keep half-an-eye on. He is visiting Arizona today. If he gets out of the desert, Philly could be in play if the price is right.

From@BilHughes10: If the Eagles fail to get another CB during free agency, does that solidify Milliner as our pick in the 1st round of the draft?

This is part of the reason I believe the Eagles will add another corner before we get to the draft. Right now you have Brandon Boykin, Bradley Fletcher, Chris Hawkins, Brandon Hughes, Trevard Lindley, Curtis Marsh and Eddie Whitley under contract. If you go into the draft with this group, there’s a risk that the Eagles will reach for need.

And even if Milliner is the man you want regardless, it’s no sure thing that he is there at No. 4. It is too important of a position for the Eagles to leave to chance.

We end with an exchange between Sheil and a less-than-optimistic Eagles fan, for comedy purposes.

There is nothing not to love about this exchange. The Philly fan’s sense of impending doom; the even-keeled Kapadia being driven to CAPS. Classic. The passion (and the pessimism) runs deep, even in March.

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Twitter Mailbag: On Winston, Cook And Milliner

 Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @Mike Lederer: Could you see the Eagles going after multiple high priced offensive players such as Eric Winston & Jared Cook in free agency?

In case you missed it, Les Bowen reported Thursday that the Eagles have inquired about Winston, who was just released by Andy Reid and the Chiefs. The 29-year-old right tackle played in 15 games last season and yielded three sacks, six quarterback hits and 25 quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. He graded out just a little bit better than Todd Herremans.

The 6-7, 302-pounder was scheduled to make $5 million this season in Kansas City. Maybe Reid is poised to take a tackle first overall and found Winston, who is coming off a difficult year, expendable. But if he was that good would he be available? I don’t know that Winston is any sure solution at tackle, so it would have to be for the right price.

Cook I can definitely see the Eagles having interest in.  It’s easy to picture the 25-year-old tight end as a cog in Chip Kelly‘s spread attack. The problem is, a lot of teams will be targeting the 6-5, 250-pounder. He is the right age and has the right skill set to draw heavy interest and therefor big money. I believe that the Eagles will be players so long as the bidding does not get out of control.

From @bmcg822: Who are the top 3 FA’s you think the Eagles will target? My guess: Cook,a safety, and a CB.

I think I am with you. As I wrote Wednesday, the Eagles pretty much have to walk away from this offseason with at least one  new starting safety in tow. There is always a chance that you don’t get your man (or men) in the draft, so free agency is the only way to ensure that you address the need.

There is plenty of buzz about Dashon Goldson and I think he would be an ideal addition to the secondary, but it’s entirely possible that his asking price gets out of hand. Then you start looking at guys like Louis Delmas, William Moore, Kenny Phillips and Glover Quin (assuming they don’t re-up with their current teams).

And they’ll have to address corner, seeing as both of their starters from last season may very well be gone.  Sean Smith of Miami (25 years old, 6-3, 218 pounds) has been mentioned as a possible target, and I believe that makes sense.

From @birdsalltheway: what is the likelihood that we will select Dee Milliner 4th overall? I think it’s solid. What are the eagles saying?

My best guess right now, I could see the Eagles going either Milliner or offensive line with the No. 4 overall pick. If the grades are close between, say, Milliner and tackle Eric Fisher, then the Eagles’ free agency work would presumably factor into the equation. If they land a tackle on the open market, you would think they would feel better about going in another direction.

Predicting the draft is difficult before the start of free agency, but there seems to be little to dislike about the Alabama corner.

Twitter Mailbag: Could the Eagles Land S Jairus Byrd?

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From@NateCalvanese: What are the chances that Tom Gamble sticks around for a little while? I know he interviewed for a bunch of GM jobs this year.

Hard to say for sure, but there is reason to believe he could be with the Eagles for a while. For one, he’s from this area. Howie Roseman mentioned Wednesday that Gamble did not come aboard last year in part because he wanted to make sure the timing was right when it came to his family (he has a wife and three boys). Not sure he’s going to want to uproot again right away.

Asked why Gamble made what on the surface looks like a lateral move, Roseman pointed to his love for Philly.

“I think it speaks to his passion for this city and this fan base,” said Roseman. “He is about Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Eagles. Obviously that’s important to him. He wants to be part of building something, and building it with the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Also, Roseman mentioned the desire to bring in pieces that are in it for the long haul. I’m not sure they pull the trigger if Gamble wasn’t committed.

“In the last three years we haven’t had a lot of continuity and we want that,” he said, “we want guys who are going to be here for a while and get our system in place and get everyone on the same page.”

From@hotcakes_33: Roster overhaul coming. Is draft deep enough @positions of need that trading back for more 2′s/3′s worth it or need playmakers?

The way I see it, you don’t get to pick this low in the draft very often, so why trade out? Even if this class isn’t as loaded as last year’s, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a difference-maker. Think about it this way: with all the talent from all the schools across the country, only three players will have come off the board before the Eagles pick. There is a stud to be had . Maybe it’s not your franchise quarterback, but if it’s a tackle that anchors the line for the next decade or a corner that can lock down one side of the field for the foreseeable future, then it’s all good.

The Eagles are building this team back up and therefor won’t be as tempted to reach for immediate need. They can truly take the best player available at No. 4.

@LorenJCook: Chances we get Safety Jairus Byrd from Buffalo, ties with CK through Oregon?

Don’t think the chances are great. The franchise figure for safeties is expected to be south of $7 million — not a terrible price to pay for a 26-year-old with two Pro Bowl nods in four NFL seasons.  Byrd would apparently like to test the market, but it is hard to imagine the Bills allowing him to walk.

Here is what former Eagles scout-turned-NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah had to say about Byrd.

“I think he might be the best free safety in all of football,” Jeremiah said. “He gives you interceptions, gives you forced fumbles, plays the run, plays the pass. I don’t envision Buffalo allowing him to get out of town.”

We put out a list of available safeties on Wednesday. There are some pretty big names on their, including Byrd and Ed Reed. Because of the relatively low franchise tag number, expect this pool to shrink by the time free agency hits.

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Twitter Mailbag: On Alex Smith, Dixon And the 3-4

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @Colaianni: should the eagles get Alex Smith and draft a QB in the 2014 draft since its a better QB class and let him learn from veteran? I am on board with that. There seems to be a good amount of anti-Smith sentiment out there, but I don’t see a ton of downside. He is slated to make $8.5 million this season (his contract runs through 2014). That’s a good chunk of change, but if you’re swapping out Michael Vick‘s $16 million, then you’re talking about a decent savings.

We know that Nick Foles is not a read-option quarterback. Why not give Chip Kelly someone who has experience in that style of offense?  Smith was completing 70 percent of his throws and had a 104.1 quarterback rating before he suffered a concussion and lost his job to Colin Kaepernick. Including playoffs, he has thrown 35 touchdowns to 10 interceptions over the past two seasons. I view him as the best available option at the moment, so long as the 49ers are reasonable in their trade demands.

From @BonoHitMyCar:  Is there really any chance of Dennis Dixon (if the rumors are true about acquiring him) being our starter next year? Maybe I am just having Steve Spurrier flashbacks, but I would be a little nervous if Dixon went from Baltimore’s practice squad to Eagles’ starter under Kelly. I think it is logical to bring the former Duck in and give him a chance to make the team, but starter? Dixon has been in the NFL since 2008 and has started three games, going 2-1 with a touchdown and two interceptions.

The idea that he will spring to life once reunited with Kelly sounds far-fetched to me, and could be a sign that the coach is putting a little too much faith in his system. But I guess you never know.

From @justin_TPM: With Chip’s love for TEs, does Brent become a centerpiece or does he become a #2 to a yet to be added piece? I have been clamoring  for the Eagles to invest more in the tight end position. I think high-end TE’s (although not easy to come by) can be very valuable in the modern NFL. Clay Harbor just hasn’t cut it. Brent Celek brings something to the table for sure, but it is past time for a complement/eventual replacement to be brought in.

I had heard that the Eagles came away from the Senior Bowl  impressed with Rice tight end Vance McDonald. Whether it is McDonald, Jason Kelce’s brother, Travis, or someone else, I would expect the Eagles to address the position this offseason.

From @tomlindlar: Would a switch to a 3-4 front depend on who we draft? IE, go 3-4 if we draft an OLB or NT, stay with 4-3 if we get an OT or CB? I believe the Eagles will switch to some form of a 3-4 eventually under Kelly, but agree with the premise that personnel will influence whether the transition is immediate or over time. Not necessarily based on who they draft this year, as you laid out. But as the roster takes shape, I think they will evaluate the parts in place and determine whether it is in their best interest to use a 3-4 for the 2013 season. Interestingly enough, it seems like several of the reported defensive coordinator candidates have experience in both schemes.

Casey Matthews described Oregon’s defense as a “hybrid 3-4.” Especially during the transition period, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw elements of both the 4-3 and 3-4.

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Twitter Mailbag: Why Hold the Title Game Against Kelly?

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @CTel92: Do you get the sense that the Eagles have a preference for a proven commodity (Lovie) or a guy with upside ( Bradley, McCoy)?

The fervent pursuit of college coaches leads me to believe the answer lies somewhere in between — someone who has proven themselves on a big stage but is still considered part of the new wave.

I question whether Smith fits the bill. I think he is a sound leader and a hell of a defensive coach. But he never really found a way to get his offense humming in Chicago, and that has to be concerning. The Eagles have a quarterback to develop.

Jeffrey Lurie has emphasized the importance of landing someone who has an understanding of where the game is headed and will lead the way. I’m not sure Smith is that guy. Maybe Bradley and McCoy aren’t either, but as up-and-comers they hold a certain amount of promise that is hard to generate when you are more of a known entity.

From @SHOOD1970: why for the love of all that is holy are we not talking to Jon Gruden?? 

Not the only question I got about Gruden as you might suspect.

There are working theories out there: Gruden and Lurie don’t have the best relationship; Gruden doesn’t want to step on his baby brother’s toes; Gruden already made it known through back channels that he didn’t want the job. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that the love affair between Philadelphia and Chucky is much stronger than the one between Chucky and the Eagles.

Someone close to Gruden suggested a couple weeks back that he was on the team’s early list of candidates. But there have been no indications since to suggest that a courtship has ensued. Unless the Eagles are throwing up some major smokescreens, it’s best not to have your heart set on him.

From @brookman_doug: What is the point of interviewing a guy in Brian Kelly, who got rocked vs Saban, and couldnt even speak @ HT interview on ESPN?

I have heard this argument a lot since word came down that the Eagles interviewed Kelly on Tuesday. And for the life of me I don’t understand it. My reaction was the complete opposite: I kept looking at the bottom of the screen during Alabama’s absolute beat down of the Irish, and thought, How is this team ranked No. 1 in the country? You can tell me it’s the shoddy college system or Notre Dame’s schedule or whatever, but you have to admit that it took a tremendous coaching job out of Kelly to get that team into that title fight against that juggernaut.

The BCS championship game was not Kelly’s finest moment and I have no idea whether he would be a good pro coach, but I don’t make my decision off one game against a superior opponent. The Irish were more physically outmatched than they were outsmarted.

From @JesusZoidberg: Do you believe that the Eagles place more of a value on the interview process compared to other teams?

Sure seems that way. At this pace, Kapadia will be interviewing sometime early next week for the post.

“Jeffrey has been very adamant with us that the key is getting the right guy,” said Howie Roseman. “The key isn’t getting the right guy as quickly as possible. So that’s what we’re going to do.”

They are thorough and I can’t hold that against them (even though my wife does). If you feel like you are under the gun than you might skip over important parts of the vetting process.

The coach has to fit with the owner, the general manager, the president, the players, the staff, the city. It takes some time to figure out if you have the right guy (and even longer if a coach you targeted decides to stay in college). I do feel they are approaching it the right way.

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