No Mariota? No Hope.
For Philadelphia fans, the most nerve-racking 10-minute waiting period of any professional sports draft ended with a figurative hot knife to the belly.
After months of anticipation coupled with downright obsession that the Eagles would land Marcus Mariota and everything would be right for the world, the Tennessee Titans took Mariota with the No. 2 pick in the draft. And if that weren’t enough, minutes later, the Titans general manager popped out of his war room to say that they were not trading him ANYWHERE. Ouch.
Does it really matter that the Eagles tried hard to get Mariota? Perhaps reports are true that the Birds offered two starting defensive players and three draft picks in an attempt to move into the No. 2 drafting spot. Chip Kelly can never admit that because if he does, he tells the quarterback who now must start for him this year, Sam Bradford, that he wasn’t adequate enough. Bradford’s a big enough boy to understand what was going on this whole time, but still.
I’ve said that if the Eagles didn’t acquire Marcus Mariota, it would haunt this city’s fan base forever. So let the haunting begin.
There may not have been a better pairing of a drafted player and his professional coach in sports history. Kelly had hand-picked Mariota to run his offensive system at Oregon, where in three years the kid perfected it. It doesn’t matter what you think of Mariota’s skill set. Some football observers think he’s merely a “system” quarterback. I don’t think that because the kid is 6-4, has an NFL arm, has mobility and intelligence and can play any system the NFL presents him. But fine. The only important thing was that Marcus Mariota can run this system. Guys, think about the hot girl you passed on in order to marry the chick you thought would be the better mother. Ladies, your husband can fix a leaky pipe and set up the trampoline in the backyard for the kids. But in the pizzazz part, they come up a little short, right?
For weeks, Eagles fans debated the issue: Deplete your team, especially on defense, in order to acquire Mariota; or stand pat with the newly acquired Bradford and keep building. Folks in the latter camp got their wish last night. The Eagles keep Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks, and Brandon Boykin, and Vinny Curry, and all of their draft picks. And they did add to their weak wide receiving core by selecting USC’s Nelson Agholor, who’s a nice player but certainly not a game breaker. But they don’t have a franchise quarterback, which essentially is the root system for any successful organization.
Maybe Bradford lives up to Kelly’s hopes, that he is fully recovered by two ACL surgeries and will rejuvenate his career in Philadelphia with the quick passing, repetitive accuracy that the coach wants from his aerial attack. Maybe the Eagles’ running game, with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews, will aid that process considerably.
And then maybe it will work the other way.
Maybe Bradford has a mediocre year and with it gets banged up again, meaning that the Eagles cannot possibly think about writing him a new contract after his one-year deal is up this year. And that means the following: in year FOUR of the Chip Kelly regime, he will be looking for ANOTHER quarterback, perhaps having to draft one all over again.
That quarterback he drafts will not be named Marcus Mariota.
And this fan base will be haunted forever.
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