I am drinking the kool-aid.
After some thought — and a couple hours of losing my mind after the Foles-Bradford trade — I’ve decided I like the moves Chip Kelly has made over the last week.
I think everything that Chip has done is based on two factors:
1. With two years of NFL experience under his belt, Chip looked at his roster and realized it would never be better than a first- or second-round playoff team. Since the goal is winning the Super Bowl, he blew things up to rebuild. Whether these moves work or not, I applaud Chip for not letting good be good enough.
2. Chip believes in his sport science program. He thinks he can keep players healthier. … And even though there have been some high-profile complaints about Chip’s system (Cary Williams), most players have reported that it really does help.
So how is the team better today than it was last month?
I think this one is easy … there has been a definite infusion of talent.
Byron Maxwell is definitely an upgrade at corner and Walter Thurmond has a higher upside than either Williams or Bradley Fletcher. Chip also said Brandon Boykin would finally get a shot at playing on the outside.
Kiko Alonso is a Defensive Rookie of the Year player at inside linebacker and although I hate losing Trent Cole, Brandon Graham is younger and I think he has shown he can be very productive if given the opportunity.
The Eagles still need help in the secondary, and I think they will target this area in the draft. Hopefully after the offensive line (see below).
But I believe the defense has improved at the second and third levels. The defensive line was already a strength.
This is where people are losing their minds. The Eagles will play 2015 without the starting QB, starting RB and No. 1 WR off their very dangerous 2014 offense. This is also the logic of the “why rebuild if you’re 10-6” crowd.
Well, just because Chip could make those guys work in his offense doesn’t mean it is what he really wants, or that he believes it can get him to the next level.
QB: I loved cheering for Nick Foles. He’s an easy guy to like, he’s a competitor and he’s tough. But I don’t think he was a Chip Kelly-type quarterback, and not because he can’t run well. I think it is because he doesn’t read the defense fast enough. Sam Bradford ran a very fast, spread offense at OU before coming into the pros. His strengths are reading the D and getting the ball out of his hands. Both Bradford and Kelly have described it as being like a point guard. … I think Foles will do well in a more conventional offense in St. Louis.
RB: I loved LeSean McCoy. Seriously, what Eagle fan didn’t? But we all know Shady would dance in the hole and every game would take a few negative yardage plays. I saw it described somewhere as being a home run hitter who strikes out a lot. Kelly HATES negative plays. His offense is predicated on staying ahead of the chains. DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews are both one-cut, zone blocking runners. They are going to get behind their pads and get yardage. They may not hit as many home runs, but they aren’t going to strike out either. And remember, Murray was Bradford’s teammate at OU when they ran the fast-paced spread offense.
WR: Let’s face it, Kelly did not want to lose Jeremy Maclin. Nobody did. But he got one helluva contract out of Andy Reid in Kansas City ($11 million a year, seriously?) and I don’t think Philly should have tried and match. The Birds are going to have to find wide receiver help in the draft and hope Josh Huff and Jordan Matthews step up in Year 2. Plus you may see more two tight end sets with Brent Celek and Zach Ertz on the field together.
OL: This is the place I am worried right now. I am going to miss Todd Herremans and there’s a chance that Evan Mathis gets traded. Plus Jason Peters isn’t getting any younger. For the Chip Kelly offense to work you have to be strong on the offensive line. I expect the Eagles to spend several picks in the draft on lineman.
So there are my thoughts. The defense is already more talented than last year and now Kelly has the personnel to play the faster, more downhill style of offense that he likes.
The biggest question is whether he can keep these players — most of whom have injury issues — healthy for a whole year. Of course, that’s one of the reasons he made sure to bring back Sanchez and signed Mathews after Murray. He knows he needs more than one guy at those spots.
And like Kelly said, it really is hard to find anyone available in the NFL who hasn’t missed some games due to injury.
My one concern is the offensive line and I am hoping for the draft to fix that.