Mailbag: Bradford/Foles, Carroll And the Rookies

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

I’m pinch-blogging for T-Mac on the mailbag this week. Let’s get right to the questions.

The simple answer is upside. Regular readers know that I was never a huge Nick Foles guy. I like his size and toughness, but it always felt like he had limitations. Of course, the same can be said about a lot of quarterbacks.

Sam Bradford has a better arm, could be a better decision-maker (his 2.2 INT rate is third-best among active QBs who have thrown at least 1,500 passes) and matches Foles in the intangible categories (toughness, leadership, character, etc.). Clearly, Chip Kelly felt like what he can get out of Bradford at 100 percent will be better than what he got out of Foles. Having said all that, your question is perfectly valid. If we were to lay out the details of the trade to a neutral party who had expertise in statistical analysis or economic analysis, he/she would conclude that the Rams got the better of this deal. Foles has a better NFL resume, is slightly younger and is cheaper for 2015. The Eagles, meanwhile, were the team that gave up the second-round pick.

The bottom line is Kelly is gambling on Bradford’s upside. If he ends up staying healthy and playing well in Philadelphia for years to come, no one will care about the second rounder or the money they’re paying him this year. If he doesn’t, we’ll all remember that the trade looked questionable at the time it was made.

It’s tough for me to put too much stock into Nolan Carroll’s 2014 performance because he was playing such a strange role. Carroll was essentially a dime linebacker in sub packages, playing inside next to Mychal Kendricks.

The role Carroll will be playing now is more similar to the one he occupied in Miami – press corner on the outside. Statistically, he was pretty mediocre in that role, having started 22 games in 2012 and 2013.

My big question with Carroll is: Why didn’t he replace Bradley Fletcher at any point last year? The two most likely explanations are:

1. The coaches made a mistake and should have played him.
2. The coaches made the right call, and Carroll is not as good as Fletcher.

Carroll seems to be a smart guy who gives great effort and plays with sound fundamentals. But the bottom line is there’s no guarantee that he will be better than Fletcher. He might be, but that’s not a given.

Given how difficult it is for cornerbacks to transition from college to the NFL, the guess here is that Carroll will hold off Eric Rowe as the starter to begin the season. If he plays well, he’ll keep the job. Otherwise, the coaches could look to the rookie.

Speaking of which…

I don’t think it’s a lock that this year’s class plays more than last year’s. Nelson Agholor is going to play a lot of snaps; that’s a guarantee. Whether it’s in the slot or on the outside, expect Jordan Matthews-type snaps/production out of him.

But beyond that, there might not be a ton of playing time. I mentioned Rowe above. A couple things have to fall into place for him to get on the field. And it would be a surprise if Jordan Hicks saw significant action as a rookie, given who’s ahead of him.

If he impresses, maybe JaCorey Shepherd has a role in sub packages, but that won’t be a high number of snaps. It’s tough to see Randall Evans or Brian Mihalik contributing. Both will be competing for a roster spot.

Kelly believes simply in playing the guys who will give the Eagles the best chance to win. As we saw last year, that might mean rookies waiting their turns.