Now Or Later?

Posted: August 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 69 Comments »

Chip Kelly is faced with a good dilemma. The Eagles are talented enough to be competitive right away. Kelly is also a new coach that can think about the future. There is no “win now” mandate for him to deal with. What is a coach to do?

Andy Reid was all about the future. He drafted his franchise QB, Donovan McNabb, #2 overall. His RT was going to be rookie John Welbourn (he tore his ACL in the season opener). Rookie Doug Brzezinski started all 16 games at LG. Reid’s MLB was 2nd year player Jeremiah Trotter, and he was backed up by rookie Barry Gardner. Rookies like Dameane Douglas, Rashard Cook and Damon Moore were key backups and STers. Reid was focused on laying the foundation for the future.

Ray Rhodes as all about winning. Forget “win now”, I’m not sure that was fast enough for him. Ray added veteran players all over the place. His QB was going to be Randall Cunningham, 32, or Rodney Peete, 29. Ray signed Raleigh McKenzie, 32, to be his Center. The MLB was Kurt Gouviea, 31. And those guys were kids compared to Art Monk (38), Guy McIntyre (34) and Ed West (34).

Kelly hasn’t chosen a clear path.

He kept Mike Vick on the roster, showing this isn’t all about the future. The other QBs are a rookie and 2nd year player, so the future hasn’t been ignored. There are plenty of key young players (3rd yr or less) on the roster: Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Zach Ertz, Bryce Brown, Damaris Johnson, Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Mychal Kendricks, Brandon Boykin, Vinny Curry and Bennie Logan. The Eagles eagerly embraced UDFAs like Damion Square and Russell Shepard. Think about the interesting projects the Eagles added this year in Ifeanyi Momah, Michael Bamiro, Nic Purcell and Clifton Geathers. Not all of them will pan out, but the team wanted to be creative in trying to find unique young talent.

I wonder if Kelly has a specific plan or is looking at this differently than us. He may be true to his word about competition and trying to choose the best players at various spots rather than looking 2 or 3 years down the road. Kelly didn’t have true long-term situations to deal with at Oregon. Players were there for 4 or 5 years.

Kelly wants to win. He’s made no bones about that. He has shown the discipline to not load up on older players. He’s mixed in guys like Isaac Sopoaga, James Casey and Cary Williams. I thought Kelly would have dealt Jason Avant in the spring, but he kept him. One thing these guys have in common is that they are leaders and can help set the tone in the locker room.

There are going to be some interesting decisions coming up, in terms of roster spots and starting jobs. We could get more of an idea of Kelly’s thinking based on what he does with these situations. Future? Win now? Or is he sticking with a mixture?

Right now Greg Salas is a better WR than Russell Shepard. But Salas is 2 years older and has less upside. Which player does Kelly keep? There could be a similar battle between Casey Matthews and Jake Knott at ILB. Heck, think about Punter. Donnie Jones has clearly been better than rookie Brad Wing. But wouldn’t this be the year to roll the dice on the rookie, who could solidify the position for the next 5 years (or more)?

Danny Watkins will be a really interesting case. I mentioned earlier today that I projected him to make the team. I liked what I saw of Danny in the opener and think he could look even better as he gets the hang of the offense. A few people on Twitter strongly objected to keeping Watkins, due to the combination of age, talent, cost and circumstances. If Kelly is trying to keep his best set of OL, I think Watkins makes it. Howie and the personnel guys who factor in age and contracts may push Kelly to dump him. Obviously the real key here is how well Watkins plays in the next 2 games. If he’s pedestrian or flat out bad, that ends the debate.

The Eagles could consider putting Michael Bamiro on the roster and just not playing him. They could keep UDFA Matt Tobin. He’s played LT this summer (mainly due to injuries). I think his future is at OG. There could be a player cut from another team that is a G/C type the Eagles like.

As for starting jobs, we’ll see if Bennie Logan steals away the NT spot from Sopoaga. We’ll see if Earl Wolff can win a starting job. These aren’t spot where the rookies have substantially more talent so the easy move is to go with the more experienced player. Kelly may keep it simple and just go with the guy who is playing the best football. The next game or two will help decide what happens.

I am curious and excited to see how things play out. Every move will give us a hint as to how Kelly thinks. At the end of the year we should have a better feel for things. Of course, Kelly could keep us confused by straddling the fence and trying to win now, but with young talent. Kelly just might be the coach to pull that off.

* * * * *

Earlier today I mentioned the Eagles having 51 or 52 players I liked right now. Understand that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with them as the best possible 52 guys. Clearly that isn’t true.

Go open your cabinets and look around. Is there enough for you to make a satisfactory meal? That’s different than having the meal that you ideally want.

Team building takes time. The Eagles need another couple of offseasons to get this roster where Kelly wants it. That doesn’t mean he can’t like the current group. They’re just not his ideal group.

* * * * *

Lots of questions about Clay Harbor as trade bait for the Dolphins. They lost Dustin Keller the other day to injury and have an odd collection of players. Harbor, like Keller, is a very good athlete. The Dolphins don’t have anyone on the roster who fits that description right now.

I’d say a trade is unlikely.  I think Harbor will make the roster. The Dolphins aren’t likely to offer enough to make the Eagles want to deal him. Would you trade Harbor for a 6th round pick?

The catch here is that the Eagles could like someone like Derek Carrier more than we know. If so, they could deal Harbor and project Carrier to take his spot. At that point, even a late round pick may make sense. And maybe they could get a conditional pick so that if Harbor played well, his value would go up.

* * * * *

Do you want to enjoy Jimmy Bama making fun of Jerry Jones? Go here.

He also wrote about the Eagles running the ball…even on 3rd downs. This feels like Jules Verne writing about submarines or rocket ships. Is this really possible?

_


  • Flyin

    I like watermelon and apple.

    • TommyLawlor

      Since the choice was Funyuns or Doritos, that explains a lot.

      • Flyin

        This is why the preseason is so important…

        I was thinking candy. You were thinking pantry.

        I was thinking now and later. You were thinking now or later.

  • Dominik

    “Do you want to enjoy Jimmy Bama making fun of Jerry Jones?”

    You bet I do. And I did.

  • BlindChow

    So far this preseason, only the 49ers and Eagles have failed to force a defensive turnover.

    On the plus side, the Eagles have the fewest number of penalties.

    • TommyLawlor

      Overall, or as a defense?

      • BlindChow

        Fewest number of penalties overall.

  • Phils Goodman

    Joe Kruger is another guy on the “upside bubble.”

    I think Harbor’s become a safe bet to make the team with the 4TE set being implemented and TE/WR being treated almost like a hybrid position in some formations.

    • TommyLawlor

      Kruger doesn’t look NFL ready. I think they can safely get him to the P-squad.

      Agree on Harbor.

      • Phils Goodman

        That’s what I mean by “upside bubble” — not good enough to make the 53-man on current ability, but maybe has future projection. No idea if he would be safe if exposed or not. Since a lot of the guys they are going to keep on defense are (let’s face it) scrubby, I wouldn’t mind saving a spot or two for projects instead.

        • Media Mike

          I think Kruger has a shot to be one of your starting DEs in 2014 and beyond if you get 20-30lbs of muscle on him. He simply needs a year of NFL coaching and strength training. 6’6″ and 290-300lbs is a great body type for a 3-4 DE.

          • GEagle

            I worry that Cleveland would steal him….Can you imagine e pride Joe Banner would feel, to finally get the better of us I’m something? CHudzinski, hahahahah….Kruger is a guy that many think could have been a much higher draft pick next year had he stayed in school…I can see Banner now, filled with pride, gloating that he stole a 2014 4th round pick from the Eagles

          • D3FB

            Plus they already have the other two Kruger brothers.

    • ICDogg

      I agree that Harbor makes the team but I don’t think the 4TE set really has much to do with it. He’s just more of a weapon than the wides at the back of the roster, all things considered.

      • GEagle

        we have been questioning whether some of our returning Eagles would be traded or not met the team: Avant, Harbor, Cooper….but some of the things chip said these past two months make me think that those guys were part of the plan all along and their future was never in doubt

        • ICDogg

          not sure it was preplanned that way. I think they just had to see what they had when they had everyone together to see what fit.

    • bdbd20

      I’m really starting to like this TE-based offense. I’ll be very interested to see how they operate with Harbor and Ertz on the field together. It could be a lot of fun.

  • GermanEagle

    In other (NFCE related) news: the Redskins D looks legit. Should be a good test for Vick and Chip Kelly’s Offense on Monday night…

    • Media Mike

      I think our O-line is better than Pittsburgh’s at every starting position, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the Skins’ efforts last night. I don’t think the Skins are strong at DB either.

      • GermanEagle

        Apart from MV7’s “performance of the century” the Skins D always seemed to gave us fits in the past. And as long as a 58-year old London Fletcher is playing on their end I will respect their defense.

        • Media Mike

          I have a ton of respect for Fletcher, but not really anybody else on that D. Throw last year in the trash and here is what we’ve done vs. the Skins D.
          2011: 20 and 34
          2010: 12 (in the game where Vick got hurt and Avant dropped the TD pass to lose the game) and 59
          2009: 27 and 27
          2008: 17 and 3 (ouch)
          I 100% think last year’s (6 and 20) weak showing vs. the Skins was due to our O-line being dead.

          • GermanEagle

            Fair enough. I still think the Redkins’ D is better than what most people give them credit for.

          • Anders

            Their secondary blows, their LBs aint that good in coverage (if you see Fletcher covering a TE, it should be a catch every time)

        • Anders

          That is because MM and AR always saw something they thought they could exploit in the secondary, they just forgot that the Redskins always have had a good pass rush and therefor would the 7 step drop be a very bad idea.

          • Jernst

            Alas, this was the vicious cyclical nature of every AR/MM loss…

  • SteveH

    I just looked in my cupboard. There’s some cheezits, same panko breading and half a box of life cereal. I guess it depends on what your definition of satisfactory is.

    • ICDogg

      not sure whether it’s “ideal” but I have the eggs, bacon, butter, coffee, and cream, so it’s going to be much better than adequate.

      • A_T_G

        Do NOT eat that bacon or eggs. Those things need to be refrigerated.

        • ICDogg

          oh snap

        • matthew Verhoog

          I’m pretty sure Bacon (real bacon, with lot’s of salt) and eggs are shelf stable about 55 F and will be fine for a week or so at 70 F so just make sure the air conditioner is set to max and you should be ok.

  • Media Mike

    Why aim low with trading Clay Harbor to the Dolphins………….trade Celek!
    Trading Celek would net us $3.3 million in cap space that could be rolled into next season and bring back a better asset (4th round pick or their 3rd safety) than we would get by trading Harbor. We’d still be able to keep 4 TEs (Ertz, Casey, Harbor, Carrier) and be 100% of Celek’s bad drops and VE / VJ Day type celebrations after every 5 yard gain on 3rd & 14.

    • GermanEagle

      I can see where you’re coming from, however Celek is our best blocking TE, and it’s not even close..

      • Media Mike

        I agree that Celek is the best blocker, although I don’t he’s very good at it either, but is that as important if we run as much spread as we’re all predicting.

        • GermanEagle

          By the sound of it Celek’s blocking has been ABOVE-average this pre-season so far.

          • Media Mike

            That is true, but he’s not the 2nd coming of Jason Dunn or any other TE with top notch blocking skills.

          • GEagle

            I would prefer trying to stock pile draft picks and take what we can get for our veterans…I don’t expect a SB, and every veteran has a young player behind him that I wouldn’t mind seeing get extended minutes.:

            Rather watch Foles than Vick

            rather watch Graham than Cole

            ,I understand why we would keep Celek. But I also don’t expect him to be here next year, so I would take a pick for him as long as its better than a 6th. harbor is a capable blocker. I don’t Love Clay, but we don’t lose that much by going with him for a year instead of Celek…Lyeria is coming!!! Lol

            I would keep Soap and Avant

          • Anders

            No, but we still need blocking from our TE, so why trade away the best at when he is also a good pass catcher (with some drops, but go look up other pass catching TE and see how much they drop it)

  • GermanEagle

    Tommy, are my worries re Henery’s missed field goals legit?

    • TommyLawlor

      He’s had 2 good seasons in a row, so a preseason miss and a couple of practice misses don’t bug me too much. Hopefully he’ll get a few chances in the next 2 weeks and we can get a better feel for the situation.

  • ICDogg

    As far as Watkins, I think a lot of people want to unload him he is a bust. To cut him, is freeing the team of a major mistake that they made in drafting him.

    However just because a guy does not live up to his draft potential does not mean he is of no value at all, especially in a backup capacity. He’s already here, why would you cut him unless you think other guys you have, or that are available to pick up off the street, have more ability and potential.

    • Media Mike

      I agree with you and I’ll further your argument. I want to see what Watkins can do with a full season and a 2nd off/pre season of Stoutland’s coaching. Todd Herremans, although a fan favorite, has been very inconsistent over the past few years. That may be due to his move to tackle being ill-suited or it may signal a decline. We might need to be prepared for Watkins taking over as the starting RG at some point soon. Watkins is extremely strong and athletic, but has yet to “get it” under the blocking system of Howard Mudd. Stoutland might be able to get him to turn the corner. You don’t just simply cut a guy with that level of talent.

      • GEagle

        Cant wait to see the 4th PS game when most of these guys will get an extended look

        • Media Mike

          I’m glad somebody besides me enjoys peeping that game.

          • GEagle

            Heck extended look at Barkley is always exciting for me.
            I’m sure we get to see a lot of Sqaures, Watkins, wolf, Sheppard…

            I wonder how much we will see guys like Curry, Logan and Damaris, non starters who will see time in the rotation….The sour note for me is not being able to see the year two development of Watkins

          • aub32

            I’m curious as to how much you get from Barkley playing against a bunch of guys who will soon be on the street. I think the 4th preseason gmae always gives fans hope in players who wouldn’t have a chance going against starters. That’s not a shot at Barkley, but I just don’t get the excitement you two are raving about.

  • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

    I don’t get the future arguments. You win now. This isn’t baseball or basketball. The future is short in the NFL. You put your best players on the field and you call it a day..

    • Media Mike

      I get that if you’re talking what guys to keep on your roster or not, but some teams double and triple down on “win now” and never get better than 8-8 because they’re always in cap purgatory. Because Andy and Howie were smart about what they paid guys (and Vick appropriately took a salary reduction) the Eagles can actually win now and build for the future. I’d much rather be us than Pittsburgh (except at QB) right now.

      • Anders

        and some teams are always in rebuild mode and never get out of it.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Agree with Media Mike. The difference btwn “win now” or “build for the future” is actually quite simple.

      “Win now” would be to make roster decisions based on players that are more established, usually older, that have more or less hit their peak over players that are younger, may not be playing as well as those other guys, but their is more potential and upside in 2-3yrs over the more established player. It also means loading up on established, possibly high end FAs, which be costly. Either way, a more established veteran player is going to warrant a higher price tag & inflate your cap space. Your “run” for competitiveness is going to be much shorter, if the chemistry even develops (think ‘Skins under Dan Snider).

      The “build for the future” mindset is simple as well. You’re building your roster mostly through the draft with talented, young players that will need time to develop, but will give you better mileage & possible better upside when they do develop at the NFL level. You can still go after FAs, of course, but you’re more inclined to go with a guy coming off his rookie deal with his best years in front of him, than a guy that’s 30+ years of age and his best years may well be in the rearview mirror but he’s got an impressive resume. Think, as Tommy noted, about the earlier 2/3 of the Reid era, or look at teams like the current 49ers.

      So it’s much more than just putting your best players on the field, but rather a strategy that’s employed prior to making roster decisions come time to whittle down to your 53 man team.

    • Daniel Norman Richwine

      The question is are the developing players good enough to lose now? Is Foles the kind of QB you think will develop into a great one? If so, lose now for future wins.
      Me, I don’t see any young player with enough potential to start in front of a better veteran.

  • I Got Jokes, Calm Down

    How has Derek Carrier been playing?? I like his skill set, i rememeber looking into him last year when he came from oakland, really athletic kid.

    • TommyLawlor

      Athleticism hasn’t shown up consistently, but did in the CAR game. Need to see more of that.

  • ICDogg

    You build your organization mostly for the future. You plug holes for now. You coach to win now.

    And, with that, I’m off to Margate to do some fishing this afternoon.

    • Jernst

      Perfect reply! Could not agree more. It’s not an either or decision. You do both. You spend the offseason acquiring pieces for the future via the draft. After the draft you look at your roster and plug the obvious holes with stop gap players to hold the fort down until a draft pick develops there. Once training camp starts and depth charts are being made, you put the best players on the field and try to win as many games as humanly possible.

      And, you certainly don’t start jettisoning every good, but slightly older player on your roster simply because you’ve already decided the team can’t win a Super Bowl this year. BS. Play to win and make smart decisions. Trading your best TE for a 5th round pick doesn’t help you now and probably won’t help you all that much later.

      And, then once you have a team in place that you know can at least compete you judiciously use your cap resources to target one or at most 2 high priced FAs who are in their prime or just reaching it. You never, however, break the bank on players over 30 in FA no matter how close you are to winning. You can resign your own, you can sign other over 30 yr olds to reasonable bargain deals, but you do not give out $10 mil signing bonus.

  • austinfan

    Don’t think it’s really that much of a dilemma, maybe one or two decisions, but the real decisions were made in the spring, cutting Jenkins and Patterson, etc.

    QB – Vick had to outplay Foles to win the job (and maybe a roster spot), doesn’t hurt to give 2 young QBs a year to adjust to a new system

    RB – Youth will be served

    WR – The only old player is Avant, you might trade him and put Salas in his spot, but doubt you’d get enough to justify the move. Sheppard is unlikely to be claimed on waivers if you send him to the PS.

    TE – Carrier is the wild card, didn’t show much earlier, but clearly showed the ability to separate, his blocking needs a lot of work, next two games are key, not sure he gets through waivers if he shows anything. This is where you might trade Harbor to keep him if he continues to improve.

    OL – Bamiro or ??? for the 9th spot. If Kelly goes on IR, then we’re talking a scrub who’s marginally better than whoever you can add off the waiver wire (or someone’s PS in two months), i.e., Tennant, Tobin, Kopa. So keeping Bamiro if he shows improvement becomes a no brainer irrespective of win now or win later.

    DL – Sopoaga, Dixon, Square, Geat hers are the bubble guys. Sopoaga has to show he has something left, Dixon has to show something, and Square has to show he can rise above his physical limitations. Not sure age matters because the upside isn’t there (unless you think Square has the frame to add 20 lbs without slowing down, which is doubtful). Geathers has the most upside, but at some point potential isn’t enough. You stash Kruger only if there’s no one better to protect at #53.

    LB – Knott and Acho are 23, and they win all ties with Chaney and Matthews, who show little signs of upside. McCoy has pretty won the 4th OLB by default, Long should be easy to get on the PS

    CB – Marsh 25, Whitley 24, Poyer 22, age won’t be an issue, but Hughes is 27, his failure to clearly beat out these guys dooms him.

    S – Phillips is an old 27, Coleman is a more versatile 25. Sims and Anderson have no upside at their age, just ST contributions.

    Wang v Jones would be a true potential v experience decision.

    • GermanEagle

      Hold on, are you saying the Eagles will get rid of Anderson – our special teams demon – due to his age? I sure not hope so!
      Also I don’t think Marsh is guaranteed a roster spot simply due to his age. In fact I tend to believe that he might get cut as the project of converting him from RB to a CB seems to have failed.
      The bigger CB related question/issue will be if Poyer makes it unclaimed through the PS…
      I agree with putting Kelly on IR. This makes sense and would enable the Eagles to protect Bamiro as the 9th Offense Lineman.

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  • bdbd20

    Tommy, at what point does Chip need to name a starting QB? Could he possibly wait until after the JAX game? Or is the Redskins game plan already being installed?

  • Weapon Y

    It’s great seeing how frustrated Dallas’s football guys get when Jerry Jones forces a stupid idea on them like drafting Travis Frederick at pick 31 or giving Doug Free a huge contract. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Cowboys have fallen apart ever since Jimmy Johnson left. Almost any NFL head coach would get sick of Jerry breathing down his neck. All Jerry really wants is a “yes man” head coach who lets him micromanage the team. There’s no way Bill Parcells or Jimmy Johnson would roll over the way Jason Garrett has when Jerry stripped him of playcalling duties. I couldn’t see Big Red or Chip rolling over either. Jerry’s just mad that Jimmy gets most of the credit for the Cowboys’ Super Bowl runs. He wants to prove that he doesn’t need Jimmy, and it’s blowing up in his face.

  • Iskar36

    Well, here is a check mark in the “Now” column:

    Jimmy Kempski
    ‏@JimmyKempski

    Vick starting Week 1

    • Ben Hert

      “We’re screwed,” said none of the Foles fans.

    • aub32

      I think Chip just answered that he wants to win “now”.

    • bdbd20

      I don’t think that has anything to do with the decision. He said from the beginning that it was an open competition. Vick won it.

      Had he given the job to Foles, he would have lost the trust of his players.

      • Iskar36

        Very true. Still, I think it is clear that Vick is not a long term answer for the Eagles. In fact, there is a very distinct chance he is not the QB for the Eagles going into next season. Chip made the right decision in starting Vick over Foles after the competition, but the question remains whether keeping Vick from the start to compete with Foles was the right decision. That was where the “Now” vs. “Later” decision was made, it was simply finalized today.

    • Jernst

      Let’s also remember, for the sake of argument, that Vick is only 32. It is entirely conceivable that one can play QB to the ripe old age of 35 or 36. That’s 4-5 years. By that time the entire roster will have turned over.

      so much can change between now and then. If Vick continues to play like he has this pre-season, he’s your QB for the next 4 years, so you can win now, later and still have time to find a QB that you really want to build around in the mean time.

      • Iskar36

        You have to also deal with signing Vick to a new contract though, and that creates an extremely difficult problem. Can you give Vick another big contract after what happened going from 2010 to 2011 & 2012? Will Vick expect to get paid well at the end of the season if he plays well? It’s not as simple as saying, “he will be here for another 4-5 years”. Vick moving forward will be complicated.

        • Jernst

          Understandable…but I feel like that was a discussion to have prior to bringing him back this year. Once you’ve already brought him back and then had an open competition for the starting spot that he won, if he goes out there and plays MVP level football, I’m assuming you’re already committed to trying to resign him for a few years…otherwise, why did all that other stuff even happen?

  • brza

    Considering Dennis Kelly’s surgery do you think its possible that they put him on the new IR for the first week or two so that they can keep Bamiro on the roster. Then once most waiver moves have been made they can take Kelly off IR and have a better chance at Bamiro clearing waivers and making it to the practice squad?

  • Tumtum

    Would I take a 6th for Harbor. Good question. I would have to be inside of Kelly’s head on this. Going on past production only I would say yes. Of course that is out the window. If Kelly sees the only way that Harbor is going to hit the field is by playing outwide when he wants to go heavy, that is fine. Keep him for that (because clearly he had wonderful dreams about what to do with Mohmah). If is as invisible in that role this week… give me a 6th.

    Harbor is a talented guy, frustrating, but talented. Celek, Ertz and Casey are talented too. I don’t care what the depth chart says Ertz and Harbor are the same type of guy. Casey is unique. Where does Clay get in? If Harbor is only going to play due to injury I think its time to pass the torch. Its not like he is Ike Reece or Q. Mikel on special teams. If Kelly thinks he is going to actually use Harbor this year, then I am all for keeping him.