Why Chip Kelly and the Eagles Absolutely Need Marcus Mariota
There’s a lot to love about Philadelphia sports fans, including the fact that we might be the most overly reactive people in America.
Marcus Mariota made a dreadful mistake Monday night in the college football national championship game. He was the quarterback on the team that lost.
Never mind that Mariota didn’t play poorly. In fact, by most statistical measures, he played well. He completed 24 of 37 passes (65%) for 333 yards and two touchdowns, and his one interception was a meaningless one, coming in desperation in the waning moments of Oregon’s 42-20 loss to Ohio State. The Ducks simply got overpowered by a better team. And it was only the fifth loss of a brilliant career where he won 36 other games in three years, the Heisman Trophy, and four MVP awards in four previous post-season games.
Now fans are fans. They watch games from a knee jerk perspective. Probably about 80% of the audience that watched Monday’s national title game had never before seen Mariota and were only buoyed by hype and hope. The kid doesn’t dazzle? Then he must stink.
Experts are supposed to have a better perspective than Bobby from the shipyard. Analysts, scouts and draftniks normally rely on studying a player’s entire body of work. But this week, all these so-called experts have piled on. Now, Mariota “can’t fit the ball into a tight window.” They didn’t see many “NFL throws.” He’s a system quarterback who is going to have to “learn his progressions.” Most of it is nonsense since all of these assessments come conveniently after a national championship game the kid’s team lost.
Todd McShay, the erstwhile college football talent “expert,” had Mariota ranked consistently as the No. 1 player in his mock drafts. Less than 24 hours after the national championship game, McShay suddenly questions his ability? That tells me one thing: McShay started to panic hearing all of these other “football men” pan Mariota, and instead of sticking to his guns and using his eyes to evaluate the talent, he crumbled to other’s wisdom. That makes Todd McShay a bit of a fraud.
Is Marcus Mariota ready to step into the NFL and become a star? No. But then only a few, like Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, are. Lawyers aren’t ready to try a big courtroom case the day they pass the bar. Doctors aren’t ready to do a heart transplant when they go through their residency. Aaron Rodgers needed how many years to tutor with the Green Bay Packers before he stepped in as a starter?
And this “system quarterback” crap has to stop. Marcus Mariota ran the read option at Oregon. So what? He threw for 105 touchdowns in his career with only 14 interceptions. At the end of the day, he’s a 6-4, 220-pound athlete with an NFL arm and mobility, not some diminutive kid running the wishbone offense at Navy. Im quite sure he’s be able to adapt to any style in the NFL.
Take note of the quarterbacks remaining in the NFL playoffs. Yeah, the Eagles can improve their defense in the off season. That will help. But unless they get a franchise quarterback like a Brady or a Luck or a Wilson or a Rodgers, they’re not going to win squat. There is no better fit for Chip Kelly than to have the quarterback he recruited at Oregon, the quarterback he gushes about every chance he gets. It’s like this: If you’re at tee box one, are your chances to hit a long straight drive better with a golf glove that fits perfectly, or the saggy one that got stiff in your bag?
For the people who think the Eagles can do just as well picking a quarterback in the third round or so in this year’s draft, consider this: Of the 12 teams in the NFL playoffs this season, the starting quarterbacks for eight of those teams were taken in the first round of the NFL draft, five of them being the very first pick in the draft. Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Tony Romo — those are the aberrations.
If Chip Kelly doesn’t get Marcus Mariota in this year’s draft, he is forever chained to Nick Foles as his franchise quarterback. Foles most likely gets the Eagles into the playoffs next season (thought the Eagles won’t be strong enough to win anything), which means they would have to sign Foles to a long term deal. Even though Mariota lost to Ohio State last Monday, do you really want that?