What They’re Saying About The Eagles
The dust seems to have settled since Chip Kelly’s wild foray into free agency. Here is what the national media are saying about the Eagles.
The football writers at FiveThirtyEight.com held a roundtable discussion questioning if Kelly was a madman or a mad genius:
Neil Paine: Walt, when last we convened to discuss NFL transactions, you hailed Rex Ryan for grabbing LeSean McCoy but also gave some credit to Chip Kelly for smartly freeing up cap space. Now we have the news that Kelly — in the wake of being spurned by Frank Gore — has essentially executed an old-school challenge trade at the game’s most important position, dealing Nick Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford. Have you embraced Kelly’s madness?
Walt Hickey: As I understand it — which is barely — Kelly is either making a dramatic short in the Philadelphia jersey market, destroying the value of essentially any fan’s merchandise purchased two or more years ago, or winning the Kobayashi Maru while the rest of the league is playing Snakes and Ladders. Both situations are troubling. As a Giants fan, my only thought is: What’s his play?
Patrick Daugherty of Rotoworld named his winners and losers of the free agency period thus far and gave the Eagles an incomplete for their work:
If you can hear a piano fall, you can hear Chip Kelly coming down the hall. But for all the sound and the fury of the Eagles’ offseason, has there been any gain? Are DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews at $23 million guaranteed better than LeSean McCoy at his original 2015 salary of $9.75 million? Separated from the Legion of Boom, is Byron Maxwell really that much different than Cary Williams? Is Sam Bradford in any way, shape or form an improvement on Nick Foles? The Eagles are vastly different than they were a month ago. Aside from maybe Kelly, nobody knows if they’re actually any better.
Marc Sessler of NFL.com is intrigued by the personnel the Eagles have in their backfield:
No squad offers a more fascinating backfield combination than Philly’s DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. Both are tantalizing downfield-running types who fit Chip Kelly’s scheme better than LeSean McCoy. With Darren Sproles still in the mix on passing downs, it will be fun to watch how the touches break down in 2015.
ESPN’s Josina Anderson reports via Rotoworld that some NFL coaches don’t believe Sam Bradford will be an Eagle for long:
There’s belief in league circles that Bradford will be used as trade bait to get to the Titans at No. 2 overall, where Chip Kelly could select Marcus Mariota. Kelly’s affinity for Mariota is well known. Kelly has shown he isn’t scared to make bold, complicated football decisions. It’s anyone’s guess as to what he’ll do. We also wouldn’t rule out a trade up to No. 1 overall. Bradford’s pocket-passer style would fit well in new Bucs OC Dirk Koetter’s offense.
Doug Farrar of SI.com goes in-depth on all of the Eagles’ moves since the beginning of free agency, including the signing of Maxwell:
If we’re defending all of Kelly’s moves, this is the toughest to support. The Eagles signed Maxwell to a six-year, $63 million with $25 million fully guaranteed. That’s top-tier cornerback money, and while Maxwell has played well at times through his two NFL seasons as a starter, that’s a lot of cheese for a guy who hasn’t yet fully proven himself in that realm at the position.
In Philadelphia’s Week 14 loss to Seattle, Maxwell gave up four receptions on seven targets for 31 yards and a 68.2 quarterback rating, which is about in line with his career numbers—in 2014 overall, he allowed 55 catches on 85 targets for 67 yards, one touchdown, three picks and a 78.5 opposing quarterback rating. Maxwell is a big (6’0″, 207), physical press cornerback in the Seattle style, and he fits what the Eagles do in many ways. The real question here is how well and how quickly he adapts to being the primary target of every opposing offense.
Steven Ruiz of USA Today commends Kelly’s willingness to make bold moves in the name of improving his roster:
Many people surmised the frantic maneuvering was part of a grand scheme to land Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, based entirely on the fact Kelly had coached him in college. One “analyst” suggested Kelly’s personnel decisions may be influenced by race, despite a wealth of evidence suggesting otherwise.
Kelly’s approach to this offseason was not based on an emotional tie to a certain player or even a staunch commitment to his offensive system. Kelly has taken a scientific approach to football. Theories are tested, and if they prove successful, Kelly implements them into his program. If something isn’t working, he cuts the cord.
The Eagles roster — before Kelly put an ax to it — was not working.
John Clayton of ESPN.com does not believe a trade-up for Mariota is in the cards:
As Kelly said the other day, there will be no trade up to get Mariota. If the Eagles couldn’t use McCoy, Trent Cole and draft choices to trade up from the 20th pick, they have fewer assets to trade now after the Bradford deal. A team drafting in the top five doesn’t want to trade down to the 20th pick. The chances of getting a Pro Bowl-caliber player drop 50 percent when trading out of the top five to the 20th pick. Plus, if a team in the top five wanted Murray or another recently signed player, it would have signed Murray before the Eagles did.
Todd Archer and Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com look at how the Eagles and Cowboys stack up to each other after the Murray signing:
I have a hard time understanding the mindset of some Cowboys fans who like to chuckle, “The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, so how does he think he’s getting to one with Philly?” So just because the Cowboys last won a Super Bowl in 1995, they will win one again? I don’t get that, but that’s me. At the risk of contradicting myself from the first answer, I think the Cowboys still have the better chance to get to the big game, but I’m not sure either team has a great chance. If we’re looking at the offenses right now, the Cowboys are better than the Eagles even without Murray. Why? The quarterback. Tony Romo is far, far, far better than Sam Bradford, if he’s the Eagles’ guy right now. Romo also has Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and that offensive line. I realize the Eagles added pieces to their defense, but I’m not sold Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso are top-end players.
Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback wrote of the exchange that took place between Bradford and Murray before the latter decided to come to Philadelphia:
My one point, apropos of nothing, that was cool from the conversation with Bradford: The same afternoon he got the news he’d been traded from St. Louis to Philadelphia, he texted his old college roommate from Oklahoma, DeMarco Murray, and the following exchange occurred (from Bradford’s memory Sunday night):
Bradford: “Just got traded to the Eagles. Come to Philly!”
Murray: “Yeah, we’re talking to them now.”
Bradford: “Don’t mess with me. Really?”
Murray: “Dead serious. Talking to them right now.”
Tucker Bagley is a Temple student and an intern at Birds 24/7.