RBs ‘r Us

Posted: March 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 565 Comments »

The Eagles signed DeMarco Murray today. And Ryan Mathews.

I think I predicted that a few weeks back. Or maybe not. Okay, no man or machine in the known universe had any idea this was coming.

Chip Kelly continues to surprise us. He now has Sam Bradford handing the ball to a 2-headed monster of Murray and Mathews, while throwing to Darren Sproles on 3rd down.

Crazy.

I have mixed feelings on Murray. Love the player, unsure about the deal. I am excited because he is the most physical runner in Philly in a long time. You’d have to go back to Ricky Watters of 1995 or maybe even Heath Sherman of 1992. Those were punishing runners. Tackling them was no fun.

A lot of people are trying to use numbers to compare Shady McCoy and Murray. That is missing the point in a huge way. I love Shady to death. You can still make a strong argument that he’s the #2 RB in the NFL (to Adrian Peterson). But there is value in having a N-S runner who gets behind his pads and attacks up the field.

Shady was a bit like a baseball player that heavily mixed strikeouts and home runs. Murray is the guy who rarely strikes out and is a doubles machine. You lose the spectacular, but gain consistency. I think there is real value in that at the RB position.

It is a lot easier for coaches and QBs to deal with 2nd/7 than 2nd/10. Those 3 yards don’t sound like much, but they add up. They keep the chains moving in the right direction.

Shady made great strides in the last 3 years and cut down on moving laterally in the backfield. He used to almost do it by default. He became more judicious about it, but still did it more than Chip Kelly liked. Murray is going to hit the hole or make one cut and attack an opening. He understands the value in going forward. You can’t always look for space. Sometimes you just have to go where the play is designed.

I’m as curious as everyone else on how Kelly is going to get maximum production from M&M. Both guys have had some injuries, but both have also been workhorse backs. The Saints used to do a great job at maximizing the talents of various RBs. It can be done very effectively. You need a creative coach. You need an offense committed to running the ball. That sounds like Chip.

I need to look into the deal before really talking about value and how this does or doesn’t make sense. For now, I’m enjoying the thought of having a physical runner in this offense. I think Murray is a great fit and can be a big help to the offense becoming more consistent.

* * * * *

One development I’m not so keen on is this.

Barf.

Evan is a terrific player, but also a player you love to have on your team. He isn’t cheap and he’s a bit older, but I’m not real keen on this move. The Eagles aren’t going to get great return because of his age and price.

There was a report that the Patriots might be interested.

What do you do at LG? Matt Tobin showed real promise there in the summer of 2013 and parts of last year. He played RG during the season, but is much more natural on the left side. Tobin is young and cheap so there is some logic to giving him a shot at that job.

The Eagles need to get OL help in the draft. Initially that was thought to be for depth, but now could be for a starter as well. There is a hole at RG and very possibly at LG as well.

I would love for Evan to stick around, but unfortunately it doesn’t sound like that will be happening.

Just get him out of the NFC East so I can cheer for him.

_


DeMarco to Visit Philly

Posted: March 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1,778 Comments »

DeMarco Murray is flying to Philly on Wednesday night. He will visit the Eagles on Thursday.

The Eagles agreed to terms on a deal with RB Ryan Mathews. Jimmy Bama has some details on that here. So the question becomes…can you sign Mathews and Murray? Should you sign them both?

The deal with Mathews has not yet been signed. It is possible the Eagles could try to back out of that. After all, Frank Gore did the same thing to the team just a couple of days ago. But I don’t think teams do that often.

I think Murray would be a terrific fit in the Eagles offense. He is a downhill runner that goes through first contact. He has excellent strength and balance. The big worry with him is how much the 2013 workload will affect him moving forward.

Williams, George and Johnson had limited success after those years. Can DeMarco break that trend?

There is a big difference. Johnson had 336 carries the year before he had 416. George averaged 340 carries in the 4 years prior to his busiest season. Williams had 313 and 383 carries in the years leading up to his workhorse year. Those backs were getting used an unhealthy amount.

Murray had 164, 161 and 217 carries before last year. There should be plenty of tread left on his tires. I don’t dispute that Dallas overused him last year, but that was an anomaly. In the past, either he was hurt or they wouldn’t commit to the run.

If the price is right, I love the thought of adding Murray.

Could you add Murray and Matthews, while also paying good money to Darren Sproles? Maybe, but that would be a less than ideal use of resources. I’m all for splitting up carries, but that should also mean splitting up cost. Mathews was supposed to get $4M per year. That’s not backup RB money.

The Saints have been one team that successfully used a trio of RBs over the years. Usually one of them was a young guy making little money.

It is possible this is all posturing by Murray and his agent to get Dallas to pay him something reasonable. Or maybe to squeeze a big deal out of the Raiders. Free agency is a big game, and there are millions of dollars on the line. Sometimes you have to get creative.

I don’t want to make too much of this until Murray actually signs somewhere and we find out the cost. Looks like Thursday will be another interesting day.

* * * * *

I’ll write about Chip and Sam’s PCs on Thursday. Really enjoyed them. Let’s hope Byron Maxwell covers much better than he performs at a PC.

* * * * *

* * * * *

Earlier I had some tweets from a guy named Kevin who supposedly had inside knowledge about DeMarco Murray, but apparently he was just “trolling” so I removed them.

_


Has Chip Kelly Lost It?

Posted: March 11th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1,237 Comments »

Chip Kelly was the King of Philadelphia in January of 2014. The team had just come off a 10-6 season and appeared to be something special in the making. Kelly was the mastermind at the center of it.

6 weeks later he cut DeSean Jackson. That was a puzzling move to more than a few fans. And more than a few people are still struggling to accept that move.

This offseason got off to a crazy start with the news that LeSean McCoy was being dealt to the Bills. There was some logic to the move, but it still was surprising.

And now Kelly has struck again. He traded away Nick Foles…and he brought in Sam Bradford.

What the hell is Chip thinking?

It is very fair to question this move and wonder what Kelly is doing. This is a very risky move. And it is just flat out strange. I never in a million years thought Sam Bradford would be someone Kelly would want, let alone trade for.

I’m a big Chip Kelly fan. I think he’s very smart. When someone like that does something that shocks me, my first instinct isn’t to just hate it. Instead, I wonder what he knows that I don’t know. I wonder what he sees that I don’t see. What made him want Bradford? That’s why I wrote the post trying to explain the move.

Kelly has burned through a lot of trust with his moves in the last year or so. I totally get that and it is more than fair to question him right now. The Bradford deal could be a stroke of genius that will put the Eagles over the top or it could be the beginning of the end for Kelly. This time next year GM Howie Roseman and Coach Bill Davis might be unveiling their plan to fix the Eagles.

I’m still a Chip Kelly fan. I still have faith in him. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that faith was starting to get seriously tested.

* * * * *

Ouch.

* * * * *

The Eagles signed CB Walter Thurmond today. They are expected to sign RB Ryan Mathews.

Good additions, but still risky due to injury histories. Both players are talented and help out areas of need.


How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Sam Bradford

Posted: March 11th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1,099 Comments »

The trade for Sam Bradford has to be part of a move to get Marcus Mariota, right? Just has to.

Or does it?

You and I see Sam Bradford as the guy who tore his ACL in October 2013 and then against last August. We see the guy who failed to look like a franchise QB in St. Louis. To us, while Bradford might be a great guy, he’s been a disappointment since being the top overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

It is very possible Chip Kelly sees something different.

Let’s go back to Bradford the college star. He absolutely deserved to be the top pick. While at Oklahoma in 2008, the Sooners set the NCAA record for points in a season and most games scoring 60 or more points in a row. Bradford had some good pieces around him, but he was spectacular at running OU’s up-tempo attack.

Bradford was used as a pocket passer at OU, but was more athletic than most gave him credit for. He had a strong arm and was an accurate passer. Bradford looked like the total package. He had NFL size. He was a skilled passer. Bradford was athletic enough. He had no character issues. This is a guy you wanted to build your franchise around.

Life hasn’t been so good in the NFL. Bradford played for a highly dysfunctional offense. As a rookie, his top 2 receivers were Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson (Eagles castoffs). His LT was Rodger Saffold. Peyton Manning stepped onto a field with Marvin Harrison, Marshall Faulk and Tarik Glenn. See the difference?

The Rams tried to fix the offense each year, but struggled to add good pieces. WR Brandon Lloyd was the offensive weapon Bradford got in his 2nd year. Andy Reid didn’t give Donovan McNabb star receivers, but he always had a good OL and TE.

Beyond lesser skill players and poor blocking, Bradford has played for very conservative coaches. Pat Shurmur was Bradford’s OC when he got drafted. Shurmur got the head job in Cleveland a year later and Josh McDaniels took over for a season. Then Brian Schottenheimer ran the offense from 2012-14. Bradford hasn’t come close to playing in an offense like the one from Oklahoma.

Bradford put up okay numbers. In 2012 he had a rating of 82.6 and threw for 21 TDs. In 2013 he finished with a rating of 90.9. Those don’t seem great, but remember who was blocking and who was catching. Isaac Bruce and Orlando Pace were long since gone.

Some high picks fail to show they can play at all. Jamarcus Russell was awful. Joey Harrington never threw 20 TD passes in a year or had a rating of 80 or more. Blaine Gabbert was awful. Vince Young was highly erratic in his bizarre career. And so on. Bradford hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but he’s better than those players.

You wonder if Bradford could have a similar situation to Alex Smith. Smith played on a bad offense from 2005-2010. Injuries, poor coaching and little talent around him were too much for Smith to overcome. Then Jim Harbaugh came to town. Smith played much better in 2011 and 2012. He’s now the starter in KC and has had good success there.

Bradford is bigger and stronger than Smith. He has a better arm. Bradford isn’t as mobile, though. If given the right coaching, put in the right system and surrounded by the right talent, you wonder if Bradford could have a similar career rebirth.

It seems like Kelly is guessing that could happen. Part of success is in the NFL is due to character and work ethic. Shurmur coached Bradford for a year. I’m sure Kelly is leaning heavily on what Shurmur says about Bradford the person.

Even if Bradford is a smart, hard-working guy who still has untapped talent, there is the question of injuries. As Kelly himself likes to say…the number one ability is durability. Bradford has played in 49 of 80 possible career games. Even Kelly would have to admit this is an issue. But look around the NFC East. RG3 has dealt with injuries since getting to the NFL. Tony Romo has a bad back. Nick Foles got hurt each of his 3 years. Eli is the only player who can stay healthy. Finding talented, durable QBs is easier said than done.

Back to Foles…this would seem to show that Kelly simply didn’t believe in him. There is no denying that Foles regressed from 2013 to 2014. The question is why and is this permanent. Time will tell. Kelly did not like what he was seeing.

If you’re Kelly and heading into Year 3, you need some real answers. If you didn’t like Foles, who were you going to get? There are not great QB options. Bradford was available. He is a high risk, high reward player. Kelly liked what he saw and must have felt this was a good gamble.

I’ve written previously that you must take risks in order to build a great team. Jimmy Johnson traded away his best player (Herschel Walker) for draft picks. Bill Belichick traded Drew Bledsoe, his franchise’s greatest QB. Pete Carroll traded for Marshawn Lynch at a time when he wasn’t playing well and couldn’t stay out of trouble. Sean Payton acquired Drew Brees when his shoulder was a huge concern and no one knew if he could play, let alone play well.

Chip Kelly has taken plenty of risks in the past couple of weeks. They could help build the Eagles into an elite team or they could end up being a series of disasters that will hurt the team for several years. Only time will tell.

Forget whether you like this deal or not. Focus on trying to understand it. I hated Jeff Fisher getting passed over for Rich Kotite. I hated Reggie White leaving in free agency. I loved drafting Barry Gardner. I loved drafting Ryan Moats.

We’ve got our feelings. We’re going to be right and wrong over time. Kelly is putting his reputation into this move. He’s got something more than an opinion on the line. That doesn’t mean the move will work, but understand there is a lot of thought and effort that went into this. Kelly didn’t wake up today and do the move for the heck of it. He sees this as something that can really help the Eagles.

I hope he’s right.

Bradford isn’t a bust, but you can’t label his career so far anything other than disappointing. Kelly thinks playing behind a good OL in an aggressive system will change that. The 2015 Eagles will be the most talented roster Bradford has ever been on. This will be Bradford’s chance to show the world he can stay healthy and play at a high level.

This will also be the most pressure Bradford has had to deal with. He’s now the QB of a team with a rabid fan base and one that expects to win. And he’s got the NFL future of Kelly and himself riding on his 2015 performance.

What a crazy start to the offseason.

* * * * *

Tim McManus wrote something pretty great recently.

Some of the qualities that make Kelly attractive and successful are the same ones that make him dangerous. He’s an original thinker and a risk-taker. He has strong convictions and he pushes through resistance and at times conventional wisdom to stay true to those convictions. That allows him to break new ground, but at times might send him to land that more experienced men know to be infertile.

Kelly’s approach has worked very well for him for the most part to date, and from that you can draw confidence. He has a history that suggests if you allow him artistic license, he can create something pretty special. But this is a new realm for him, and he’ll have to find and toe the line that separates bold from reckless. As long as he operates in that space, it will never be an easy, comfortable ride. But it will be entertaining.

Dead on the money.

* * * * *

Some people are holding out hope this move helps with a trade up for Mariota. That’s not the feeling I’m getting, but here is Jimmy Bama with a theory.

_


Say What?

Posted: March 10th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 564 Comments »

Sorry for the long wait. Long, crazy day at work.

I’m going to keep this short for now. To those of us on the outside, trading for Sam Bradford makes little sense. But Chip isn’t on the outside.

Either Chip loves Bradford and thinks he can turn him into a great QB…

or this is part of an elaborate climb up the ladder to get Marcus Mariota.

I do not love NFL Sam Bradford so I’m hoping this is part of a move to get Mariota. I still trust Chip, but there is no denying that this was completely unexpected and is highly confusing.

Lots more to come later.