There is an old saying in sports that sometimes the best moves you make are the ones you don’t make. That is certainly true in regard to the 2013 Eagles.
* Missing out on DL Ricky Jean-Francois turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Ced Thornton and Fletcher Cox are better DEs than him. They’re also younger and cheaper. RJF would have affected the development of some young DL, whether Thornton or Bennie Logan or some other part of the rotation.
Secondly, the money the Eagles put into RJF might have kept them from spending on some other player. It was disappointing to see him go to Indy back in March, but that actually turned out to be a great thing.
* Not trading Nick Foles is looking to be a huge move. We don’t know how close the Eagles ever got to actually dealing Foles. I tend to think they wanted to keep him, but I’m sure Andy Reid did inquire about him at some time. Chip Kelly could have pushed Foles out while going for a more athletic QB, but wisely kept Foles around. That could turn out to be a franchise-changing type of move.
* Passing on Geno Smith and EJ Manuel. The Eagles had the 4th overall pick. There were more than a few people who thought for sure that the Eagles would spend it on a QB, even though there wasn’t great value. Smith was the guy getting the early buzz. Then Manuel became the flavor of the month. The Eagles checked both guys out thoroughly. And passed. Both guys might pan out, but the Eagles have Foles playing at a Pro Bowl level right now so he looks like the more sure thing of the trio.
* Not dumping Riley Cooper. This was far from a no-brainer back in the summer. Cooper’s concert incident is one of the worst Eagles-related memories in a long time. The team could have taken the easy way out and cut him. Cooper wasn’t a star player. They didn’t have a high pick or much money invested in him. The whole world would have gotten behind the Eagles for dumping Cooper. They chose the tougher path and kept him around. To be fair, the Eagles were thin at WR. But again, Cooper was just a guy back then. He had 5 TD catches in 3 years.
A ton of credit goes to Jason Avant for being the guy who kept the peace. He and Riley are friends. Jason is incredibly respected in the locker room so him sticking by Cooper meant a lot. I think Chip Kelly also handled the situation wisely by not ignoring it, but also not going overboard with it. I think he gauged the pulse of the team and saw this was something the players could handle.
Cooper has turned out to be a key player, especially in the last 6 or so weeks.
* Not trading Vinny Curry. Eagles fans loved what they saw from Curry this summer. Coaches did not. They looked past the plays he made and focused on the fact he wasn’t playing within the framework of the defense. The coaches could have given up on Curry and told Howie to deal him to a 4-3 team. Instead, the coaches kept coaching Vinny. They worked on fundamentals over and over. Curry got on the field in Week 3 and showed ability right away. Since then, he’s actually started to play well in the base defense as a 2-gap DE. I don’t know if Curry will ever be a starter, but he could be a critical role player for the Eagles. Patience paid off.
* Passing on Eric Winston. Remember when the Eagles were linked to Winston at least once a month? The team decided against that and focused on finding a RT in the draft. They took Lane Johnson 4th overall and he looks like he could be a stud OL.
* Not cutting Nate Allen. The Eagles could have easily let Allen go in the offseason. He didn’t play well in 2012, actually getting benched late in the year. The fans hated him. But the Eagles decided to keep Allen around and see if the new staff and system would get Nate back to the form he showed as a rookie. That has worked and Nate is playing the best football of his career. Nate’s future is up in the air, but the fact he’s made Eagles fans discuss re-signing him is arguably the biggest miracle of 2013. Not just Eagles 2013, but all the events in the world. Crazy. Great job by the staff and Nate.
I might be forgetting a non-move or two. Let me know if I’ve overlooked something good.