We live in an era where the media micromanages a person’s every move so things tend to get blown up.
So… basically the Eagles offseason right?
I’m not sure who pissed me off more, Stephen A. Smith or LeSean McCoy. But not that I want to get to into that, but from a strictly football perspective, majority of the moves that Chip Kelly took part in (because he is the General Manager) made sense.
1) Anytime there is a coaching change, there is usually a change in philosophy. Andy Reid and Chip Kelly are two completely different coaches, opposites in some aspects. Most new coaches usually work to bring their players in right away, Chip Kelly waited two seasons. Because it was key players/big names that got the scissors/boot that this was a major story, which leads me into point #2….
2) I know he didn’t have the same powers last offseason as he does this offseason, but he had enough power to make sure they did get rid of DeSean Jackson, who was coming off of a career year with 82 catches for 1,322 yards and 9 touchdowns. Something that wasn’t really talked about also was the fact that Riley Cooper also had a career year totaling 47 receptions for 835 yards and 8 touchdowns. Heard all offseason that they had nobody that could replace Jackson’s productivity but I do recall saying this…
- “True #1” in this tweet references the fact that at the time, nobody considered Jeremy Maclin a #1 WR at the time. I still don’t either (I’ll get to that in a minute) but in this system which manufactures receptions underneath to open up the defense for big plays over the top, production as the top wideout equals big time numbers.
(What’s funny to me is I think that Smith I was referring to was Brad Smith. Smith isn’t on the roster now but Miles Austin so there is that. Switch the names, tweet still means the same.)
Jeremy Maclin stepped right in as the top WR in this offense and (just like Jackson) posted career high numbers totaling 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jordan Matthews stepped into that inside wide receiver role and had 67 receptions for 872 yards and 8 touchdowns.
The fast pace tempo of the Eagles offense has created an illusion that the Eagles offense is some soft, passing offense and that simply isn’t the case. The offense’s ability to generate big plays is predicated on the success of the run game. Which leads me to #3….
3) DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews are better fits for this offense than LeSean McCoy. Now if you ask me, was Chip trading Shady for strictly football reasons? Probably not. Were they racially motivated? Most definitely not. LeSean McCoy is a player with a big personality, bigger ego and an even bigger mouth. It’s a good chance Chip just didn’t like McCoy. Hell, although I respect him as a player, I’m not the biggest fan of him myself.
Murray is a one cut runners who see a gap, put their foot in the ground and go. McCoy’s game is built less off power, but more off of his ability to make you miss in the backfield/open field and he’s able to use his speed to either burst through holes or he’ll use his speed to bounce his runs outside. In 2013, McCoy led all eligible running backs with 26 runs of 15+ yards that totaled 585 yards (which also led the league) according to Pro Football Focus. These big plays accounted for 36.4% of his league leading 1,607 rushing yards. There is a strong argument that McCoy was the best running back in football in 2013. But in 2014, he was only able to muster 18 runs of 15+ yards, good enough for 7th among running backs. In 2014, DeMarco Murray had 27 rushes of 15+ yards totaling 619 yards, leading the league in both categories.
You can look at Kelly’s offense and tell the scheme is a big indicator of success for those in it. But you still can’t be a round peg attempting to fit into a square hole.
- Right after Jordan Matthews was drafted in 2014, Chip announced he would play the inside receiver role. This of course being about a month after DeSean Jackson was cut. It was announced that Chip wanted to get more size in his receiving group (both Cooper and Matthews are 6’3. Maclin is 6’0 and Jackson is about 5’10.). Now I don’t know what words exactly went through his head, but Chip is always farther ahead in his thought process than those are that attempting to understand what he does. It wouldn’t be a reach to assume that Chip didn’t like Jackson either and if he had to make a choice between Maclin and Jackson, he chose Maclin. After all, Riley Cooper isn’t very good at getting open on the outside. He’s not quick enough to be in the slot either but his size is valuable to this offense along with his understanding of the scheme. Cooper may have had a career high in catches (55) in 2014, but he wasn’t an important cog to this offense. He just attracted another body, basically making him just another minor chess piece. And with this in mind, you have Maclin as your primary receiver. Matthews would play inside because he struggles to get free against press coverage and his struggles increase against some of the better corners in the NFL (a reason why the SEC’s all time leading receiver was drafted in the second round instead of the first) so using his size and ability to get off the line clean against the smaller slot corners would create a great matchup.
- Now during the 2015 offseason, the Eagles reportedly offered Jeremy Maclin $9m a year to stay in town, but he wanted $11m. As we now know, Kansas City was able to ink Maclin to a 5 year/$55m deal. I know Maclin had a career year, but I don’t think he’s worth that much money. Randall Cobb (in my opinion) is a much better receiver than Maclin and he took $10m from the Packers to stay and play with them. What Stephen A Smith and many others fail to realize is that if you don’t think a player is worth a certain amount and you 100% know you can get production from another player, you don’t overpay. Jackson and Maclin are both very talented but as Kelly’s system has shown us, you replace talent with talent and you’ll get production. The Eagles drafted wide receiver Nelson Agholor in the First Round of the 2015 draft to replace Maclin. His versatility and ability to play inside made him a perfect fit. I’m definitely not saying that he’ll come in and go for 80/1300/9 just like the last two receivers to fill that spot, but if Chip is in Philly long enough, he’ll be able to put up those numbers and more.
- Murray and Ryan Mathews combining with Darren Sproles creates a backfield that has to be in the conversation for the best in the NFL. Murray and Mathews will continue to wear you down all game and Sproles will come to be that “change of pace” back. Sproles averaged 5.8 YPC in 2014.
Many of the other moves that weren’t widely talked about included letting Cary Williams, Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis all go. The combinations of age, cap hit and (in the case of Williams) lack of skill all led to them being moved. Also, Kelly traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. I have large expectations for the Eagles in 2015, and while it’s based off the durability of Sam Bradford’s knees, I feel like he’s a better fit for the Eagles offense as well.
Bradford has had the misfortune of playing for some of the most vanilla offense’s possible in St. Louis. Quite honestly, that has been a franchise with no remote offensive identity. Bradford didn’t have the best weapons at his disposal, and that includes a quality offensive coordinator. Sam Bradford will always be one of the most accurate quarterback’s I’ve seen and that trait along with the fact he’s able to make quick decisions make him great for Philly. Everybody was able to admit that although Foles 2013 was great, it wasn’t going to be easy to replicate. Despite being 6-2 as a starter in 2014, Foles looked awful. His footwork and mechanics were garbage and yes I know the Eagles offensive line was dealing with injuries at the time, but Foles constantly looked rattled.
I’m willing to stand by my words but I really think the future is extremely bright for the Philadelphia Eagles. Not saying they will the Super Bowl, but keep on giving Chip time to build this offense in the mold that he sees fit. Kelly went 47-6 in 4 seasons at Oregon and the team as a whole reflected him. On paper, this 2015 team is slowly beginning to represent Kelly as a coach. Unfortunately the media is going to make it seem like if the Eagles don’t win a Super Bowl this season then Chip is a failure and that simply isn’t true. You have to get credit to him for winning 10 games a season with players he didn’t want.
Many of the great football minds in the history of the NFL have been unapologetic about doing things their way. Don Coryell, Bill Walsh, Jimmy Johnson, Buddy Ryan and Bill Belichick among others have had varying levels of success doing things their way. Give Chip Kelly time to see his plan through. As long as he is winning games at least.