Chip and the Truth

Posted: March 26th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 335 Comments »

I finally got to see the entire Chip Kelly breakfast talk. For those brave souls with an hour to kill, PE.com has the whole thing posted. I enjoyed it, but I’m one of those wackos that loves listening to football coaches speak.

If you try to compare some of what Chip says to his actions, to what Jeff Lurie said and to other bits of info, you will find some inconsistencies. Sheil Kapadia noted a couple of these in an excellent piece he wrote. Here’s one of them.

6. Kelly and Lurie offered two different stories when discussing the McCoy trade. Lurie said Kelly preferred a different style of runner, a one-cut back who didn’t dance. Kelly said it was purely a financial move to free up cap space.

We’ve been over this before, but believe the owner here. I can understand why Kelly doesn’t want to sound like he’s criticizing McCoy, but the Inquirer reported that the Eagles didn’t approach the running back about redoing his deal.

And in the end, the deal they gave DeMarco Murray is essentially the same over the next three years as the one McCoy was on. The only difference is Murray’s getting $18 million guaranteed, and McCoy was not. In other words, they had more flexibility with the McCoy contract.

Yes, it’s true that McCoy had a bigger cap hit in 2015, but that could have easily been restructured by guaranteeing some of his salary.

Bottom line: Kelly wanted a different style runner, and he wanted Kiko Alonso. That’s why the deal was made, not because of McCoy’s contract.

Kelly had a love-hate relationship with LeSean McCoy for 2 years. Like all of us, Kelly loves the dynamic runs. McCoy makes guys miss better than any RB in a long time. The problem is that McCoy struggled to embrace the 4-yard run. He was always looking to bounce a play outside or to cutback and find wide open space. That led to too many negative runs. (See this great ChipWagon post for some examples of poor decisions)

McCoy also made strange decisions down the field at times. Most notably, he made a cut in the Snow Bowl that turned a 70-yard TD run into a play where Ndamukong Suh caught him from behind and the play only went for 20 yards. That really bugged Kelly. The play worked. The blockers did their part. The offense had a long TD. Instead, a poor read and poor cut turned it into simply a nice gain.

As great as the highlight runs are, there is something about a physical, downhill runner. They are going to have fewer negative plays. They are going to wear down defenders. Good look at a list of Super Bowl winners. I don’t think you’ll see many in recent years where the leading runner’s best quality was elusiveness. I’m not saying you need Earl Campbell, but you want RBs that get behind their pads and attack up the field.

Instead of talking about football philosophy, Kelly chose to focus on money. He mixed in some comments about liking one-cut, downhill runners, but he didn’t focus on that.

It doesn’t benefit Kelly to talk about what he really wants in RBs. He’d rather have the other 31 teams think this is all about money that to truly know his thinking. If those teams study things, they’ll figure out the truth. But why make it easy on them?

A good coach will pick and choose when to be honest. Fans and the media want honesty. It eliminates guessing and tells them exactly what is going on. Coaches are trying to protect their ideas, strategies and desires. Can you imagine Seattle telling the world they were targeting Russell Wilson in the 3rd round going into the 2012 draft? Andy Reid really wanted him and would have known to move up.

Heck, sometimes teams go out of their way to deceive others. Under Tom Heckert and Howie Roseman, the Eagles would bring in a few draft prospects to the NovaCare that they actually didn’t have on their draft board. They wanted to keep the rest of the league guessing. Do the Eagles like that guy or not?

Kelly’s primary goal when lying is to protect the team, not to deceive us or fool the media. Andy Reid did much of the same. Reid often lied to protect his players. That drove fans nuts, but led to guys being incredibly loyal to him. As much as fans wanted Reid to rip Todd Pinkston, it served no purpose.

Study actions, not words, and you’ll have a better idea of what a person really thinks.

When Chris Polk took over on goal line plays last year, that was a big hint that McCoy might not be in the long term plans. Does anyone remember Ricky Watters, Duce Staley or Brian Westbrook leaving the field inside the 10-yard line in the prime of their careers?

There is no real benefit to spilling the beans and sharing all your thoughts and ideas in the NFL. That’s one place where honesty most certainly isn’t the best policy. Lie, lie and lie some more.

Those of us who want to know the truth will follow the bread crumbs and try to figure out what’s really going on.

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I had an interesting thought tonight when thinking about RBs.

This will be Kelly’s third year. Look at the RBs he’s had here.

LeSean McCoy
Bryce Brown
Chris Polk
Darren Sproles
DeMarco Murray
Ryan Mathews

Wow, that is one impressive group. Long way from the days of Anthony Toney, Mark Higgs and Robert Drummond, huh?


Chip’s Breakfast Talk

Posted: March 26th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 248 Comments »

The media got to talk to Chip Kelly today for an hour during a coaches breakfast at the owners meetings. I don’t think we learned anything too shocking. That said, it is always good to hear the coach speak.

PE.com has a part of the talk posted.

The info I found most interesting involved personnel. Kelly said good things about Allen Barbre as the possible starting RG.

“I’m really excited about Allen,” Kelly said Wednesday. “We’ve been high on Allen for a long time. Was playing really well and then hurt his ankle in the first game. He came in the year before and did an unbelievable job when [Jason Peters] was out against Green Bay in a real tough matchup against a real good team in Green Bay and really did well for himself. Versatile player. Feel very confident in Allen Barbre.”

Obviously the coach is going to be positive rather than brutally honest, but Allen has played in a limited role for the Eagles. This isn’t a completely blind projection. There is some reason to think Barbre could play well at RG if he ends up with that job. He isn’t a long term answer due to his age, but he could be a solid starter in 2015.

Safety is a bit more open, to put it mildly. Kelly made it sound like Jaylen Watkins would be in the mix at that spot. He also mentioned Earl Wolff as a candidate.

“We’ll take a look at that,” Kelly said. “That’s what this process is all about, the offseason, you get a chance to see guys on the field. What is Earl [Wolff] like in Year 3? There’s guys on our team right now that can certainly play that role but it depends where they are when you get a chance to see them through OTAs, through minicamp, through preseason camp.”

“Yeah, Jaylen’s got versatility,” Kelly said. “How it will all play itself out, we’ve got a ton of time, and we’ve got a ton of reps between now and when we’ve got to make a decision on who’s going to end up opposite Malcolm. Jaylen’s another guy who will have an opportunity at the safety spot.”

I’m sure the Eagles will look for a Safety in the draft, but there are no guarantees they’ll come up with one. There aren’t a lot of great choices and as many as 31 teams could be looking for S help. The Eagles can count on coming up with solid WR in the draft. Safety is much more of a crapshoot. Worst case scenario, they have to be prepared to find the answer already on the roster. I’ll write more about Watkins as a Safety in a future post.

With Watkins being talked about as a S, that leaves Walter Thurmond, Nolan Carroll and Brandon Boykin to battle for the CB spot opposite of Byron Maxwell. Kelly did say Boykin would have a chance to play outside. He also said Carroll will stay at CB.

The Eagles have a good chance to add a CB in the draft. There is more depth at CB than S. Still, they can’t count on finding a starter there. The rookie can provide depth and/or competition. He might end up starting. But you can’t rely on the draft to find the starter.

Kelly talked about the idea that Maxwell is purely a product of the talented Seattle secondary.

“I think that’s a misconception because he didn’t have two safeties behind him,” Kelly said. “They were either a Cover-3 or a Cover-1, and they don’t play two-deep, and Kam [Chancellor] is usually down in the box. The one thing I think is interesting about Byron is because of how good Richard Sherman is, scheme-wise, [Maxwell] a lot of times got the best receiver.”

And there was this.

This is the most complicated part of having a unique coach. Some coaches can talk about running the ball and playing good defense…the desire to have a tough, physical team. Kelly has very specific ideas about football, players and how he wants things done.

It would be great if Kelly could share every detail with us, but that would mean giving ideas to other teams, as well as telling them the kind of players you’re looking for and how you want to do things. It boils down to this…you either trust Chip or you don’t. That isn’t to say you can’t question him. His actions can seem very unorthodox at times. But in the end you have to just sit back and see what happens.

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There is tons to read.

PE.com has a Twitter recap if you want a simple format.

Les Bowen offered his take on things.

Jeff McLane wrote about the Kelly-Roseman angle.

Jeff also covered Kelly’s comments on players/positions.

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Tuesday Night Stuff

Posted: March 24th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 489 Comments »

Jeff Lurie spoke at the owners meetings out in Arizona. Right now PE.com only has some snippets up. I want to wait until I can see the whole thing before writing a lot about his comments. I read a lot of the comments on Twitter as he made them, but I’m hoping to see full video so I can hear everything in complete context.

Lurie said a lot of interesting things. I’m looking forward to seeing the whole video.

The biggest takeaway from the video linked above is that Lurie wasn’t afraid to take chances, whether it meant shaking up how things ran in the front office or key personnel decisions. He doesn’t want to be “risk averse”. And I completely agree with that.

I’ve preached all offseason that the Eagles should be aggressive. They have to let Chip do things his way. You don’t hire Chip Kelly and then ask him to be conventional. That just doesn’t work.

Those of you who don’t like Chip as much as me get frustrated when I write this. You want him to do things that make sense to you. I get the mentality, but I look at things differently. I’m always trying to figure out what makes Chip see things differently. His moves are done for a reason. Rather than just disagree, I prefer to try to understand them.

Chip obviously explained his ideas well to Lurie and this offseason has been one bold move after another. Time will be the best judge of what was smart and what wasn’t.

* * * * *

ILB Casey Matthews signed with the Vikings.

He never panned out the way anyone hoped, but Matthews was a solid STer and became an effective backup ILB. I give the guy credit for carving out a career for himself.

Remember Juan Castillo explaining the value of dinner at the Matthews household? Wow. That seems like an eternity ago.

* * * * *

If you hate NFL Network analyst Heath Evans, and all good human beings do, you will love this BGN piece. Evans ran his mouth on Twitter and Malcolm Jenkins shut him up.

As Tony Bruno would say…”Beautiful.”

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Ali Marpet

Posted: March 24th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 276 Comments »

One of my favorite players in the upcoming draft is OG Ali Marpet. I think he would make a terrific Eagle and he could step in and challenge for the RG spot right away.

But he’s from D3 Hobart College. What kind of value do you put on him? Are there any fears he won’t be able to handle the NFL?

In the 2 drafts with Chip Kelly as part of the equation, the Eagles have been a big school team. The closest thing to a pick from a small school is someone from Vanderbilt or Utah. Is that on Chip, Howie, or just how things worked out?

Marpet is not a complete projection. He went to the Senior Bowl and was one of the stars. He went to the Combine and posted terrific numbers. You can judge him against NF-caliber talent. Marpet didn’t just do okay, he excelled. He stood out.

Jimmy Bama and I talked to him in Mobile. I can’t stress to you enough how impressive he was. Marpet played LT in college, but knew he had to move inside in the NFL. He was realistic about what he could and could not do. That isn’t to say he lacked confidence, but this wasn’t a delusional kid. And trust me…a lot of prospects are sure they are the next Reggie White, Jason Peters, or Troy Vincent.

PE.com has up a whole bunch of info on Marpet. Bo Wulf wrote the piece and you can always trust him, unless he’s writing about that dump of a college…Wake Forest. Bo was held captive there for 4 years and suffers from Stockholm Syndrome.  He wasn’t smart enough to get into a good school, like Appalachian State University.

Back to Marpet.

The Eagles do have interest. Jeff Stoutland ran Marpet’s Pro Day workout. You can see some of the workout on a video in this link. You don’t send Stout to check a kid out unless you have serious interest in him.

It will be interesting to see where Marpet goes in the draft. I would be comfortable spending a 2nd round pick on Marpet. I’d love to get him in the 3rd, but I just don’t think there is any way he lasts that long. Regardless of when or where he goes, Marpet is someone I’ll follow out of curiosity. He’s the best D3 prospect I’ve ever seen. Does he become a stud OL, an effective starter or does he have a disappointing career? I’ll be pulling for him, as long as he’s not with an NFC East rival.

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Evan Mathis Update

Posted: March 23rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 229 Comments »

This is not the news I wanted to come out of the owners meetings. Apparently the Eagles are shopping LG Evan Mathis and if a trade can’t be worked out, they could release him.

Ugh.

The benefit of trading Mathis…you get a late round pick and some cap space. The benefit of releasing Mathis…you get some cap space. I’d rather have the experienced LG in the starting lineup for one more season.

Obviously Chip Kelly isn’t making this move unless it makes some kind of sense to him. I don’t know that the extra cap space is going to lead to any deal of significance so that angle doesn’t seem compelling. Maybe the Eagles see Mathis as a declining player who is easier to replace than we think. Maybe there is some other way to look at this, but I’m not sure what that would be.

We’ll see what happens.

* * * * *

No shocker there.

And there won’t be any comp picks next year either.

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