Kelly’s Spin On Mariota, Foles And the QB Spot
PHOENIX — As Chip Kelly approached his crowded table at the NFC coaches breakfast Wednesday morning, he offered his expectations for the hour-long session with reporters.
“My yearly dental appointment,” Kelly muttered before he sat down.
The Eagles head coach touched on a variety of topics, but largely in focus was the team’s quarterback situation. That meant several questions involving Marcus Mariota, Sam Bradford and even Nick Foles.
After the Eagles acquired Bradford from the Rams, Kelly said another team had already called and offered a first-round pick. According to multiple reports, that team was the Cleveland Browns.
Asked if he’d received any additional calls since then, Kelly said: “No.”
He also explained that the team did not want to include Foles in the deal to acquire Bradford.
“We were trying to keep Nick if we could,” Kelly said. “It was just at the last second, they wanted players. We were trying to get it done with draft picks, but it didn’t work out that way.”
If he’s telling the truth, it opens up the possibility that the Eagles are embracing a philosophy that the Seahawks used a few years ago: acquire as many QB options as possible, and hope one of them works out.
Of course, the alternative is to just get the No. 1 guy and not worry as much about the other quarterbacks on the roster.
Which brings us to Mariota. There was a lot of back-and-forth with Kelly about possibilities involving his former signal-caller.
“I could deal with hypotheticals all the time,” Kelly said. “Give me a scenario. If he goes to 12, and it’s gonna cost us a seventh-round conditional pick, then that would be very… you can go through it back and forth. That’s what this is all about.”
Kelly doesn’t normally answer hypotheticals, but he decided to play the game for a period today. What about giving up two first-rounders to get up to No. 6?
“It will never get you there,” Kelly shot back without hesitating. “It took two first-round picks to go from six to two three years ago.
“Philosophically, I want to keep all our draft picks. I think you build your team through the draft. So if you gut yourself for one year and for one guy, philosophically I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”
Are there exceptions?
“It’s a philosophy,” Kelly said. “There are exceptions to every philosophy. People used to think the world was flat, philosophically, until that guy took the boat and just kept going and didn’t fall off the edge.”
The feeling here is simple. Kelly would love to make a move for Mariota, and that will continue to be the case until another team calls his name. But he also has to prepare for a scenario in which he doesn’t land his guy.
It’s possible that the Titans target Mariota at No. 2 or that teams in the top five ask for compensation that’s too rich.
“I consider mortgaging the future giving up your draft, like for Ricky Williams,” Kelly said. “Would I give up a whole draft for Ricky Williams? In my opinion, no.”
Asked specifically about the quarterbacks in this draft, Kelly sang the praises of both Mariota and Jameis Winston.
“I think there’s two really good ones,” he said. “Two really good ones. Jameis is really good. Do I like Jameis more? I don’t know Jameis as well. Jameis is a really good quarterback, a really good quarterback. His name will go very quickly, I imagine.”
He also shot down all the knocks that Mariota’s been labeled with.
“I think everybody gets overanalyzed,” Kelly said. “There’s just so much time between it. I’ll give the credit to [Fox Sports reporter] Bruce Feldman told me, it’s interesting that the knock on Marcus… his baggage is that he has no baggage. He’s an outstanding leader. Look at his won-loss record. You judge quarterbacks on what their won-loss record is. You judge quarterbacks on touchdown to interception ratio. You judge them on all those things. He’s off the charts. And he’s off the charts off the field.”
What about the criticism that he’s not fiery enough?
“Just because a guy doesn’t yell and scream at a guy when he doesn’t run the right route – ask any of those guys if they’d take Eli Manning,” Kelly said. “I don’t see Eli Manning screaming and yelling at anybody, but you talk about a stone-cold killer in the fourth quarter. Look at how many fourth-quarter comebacks Eli’s had.
“It’s the silly season. The NFL draft hype is the most crazy thing in the world. Guys are going to go up, guys are going to do down, then guys are going to go up. Cam Newton couldn’t play. There’s no reason to draft him in the first round. All of a sudden, he goes No. 1. I knew it. It’s crazy.”
Kelly might not like it, but the speculation will continue until Mariota’s name is called on draft night.