The Eagles have been the most successful franchise in the city; notwithstanding the Phillies world title, as the Eagles regime under Andy Reid won five division titles in a row, went to 4 consecutive NFC Championships and 1 Superbowl. During Reid's reign, the Eagles maintained the highest level of success that any Philadelphia team has ever shared. Well, all good things must come to an end and the Eagles are now operating under a new regime.
Chip Kelly came to the Eagles three years ago after inheriting a 4-12 football team. In 2013, the Birds went 10-6 and made the playoffs before bowing out in the first round after losing to the New Orleans Saints. After that season, the Eagles were primed for another great season and playoff run. The Eagles were lead by All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy and wide reciever DeSean Jackson, and upstart quarterback Nick Foles. Ok, well one season later minus Jackson, the Eagles finished with the exact same record; this time failing to make the playoffs. As if this was not a disappointment, then came the shocking offseason when the Eagles traded team captain LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles as well as letting go of pro bowl wide out Jeremy Maclin. Most Eagles fans were STUNNED.
I must admit, in the beginning of this tumultuous offseason, I was so upset and confused about the strategy that Chip Kelly was imposing. However; after the Jekyll and Hyde free agency period, it became more apparent what Chip's plan was for this hungry franchise. Chip was not here to make friends with the fans. He has one goal and one goal only and that is to build "his" team with "his" players and hopefully win the super bowl. The only problem with this scenario, is that Chip can not loose no matter what. If his plan is unsuccessful, then he will leave the NFL, millions of dollars richer and still be be able to find employment in the college ranks.
Well one thing is for sure, no matter what happens with the Eagles going forward, Chip Kelly will either be a hero and genius in this town or he will be the villain and most hated person in this city's storied history. So this past week saw the NFL draft come and go. So many Eagles fans, sports analysts and fans alike thought that Chip Kelly would acquire Marcus Mariota (Oregon), the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and star prospect quarterback during the draft. So many rumors had the Eagles trading up with the Tennessee Titans to get the rights to the second pick in the draft.
Getting Mariota turned out to be a pipe dream. Although Kelly and the Eagles reportedly did try to trade for the opportunity to draft Mariota, they ultimately came away empty handed. In my opinion, the Eagles had a very successful draft nonetheless. Kelly was able to draft a wide receiver, 3 cornerback, a linebacker and a defensive end. The Eagles reportedly offered a king's ransom for the rights to the second pick, but the Tennessee Titans decided to stay put and draft Mariota. Ironically, Titan's Ken Wisenhunt ultimately reached out to former Eagle's coach Andy Reid for advice about trading the pick and Andy threw the Donovan McNabb factor out there and the Titans did not bite.
Of course drafting Mariota could have happened for the Eagles and he could become that franchise quarterback that only comes along every so often and leads a team to a championship. However; there is also the same chance that Mariota could become a bust, which in this case would have been a disaster for Philadelphia. If the reported trade rumor was true, the Eagles would have shipped two first round picks, Sam Bradford(QB), Brandon Boykin(CB), Michael Kendricks(ILB), and Fletcher Cox(DT) to the Titans for Mariota. Mariota would have to become Tom Brady or Joe Montana for this trade to be successful, and the chances of that happening are slim to none. So in hindsight, this was the best possible outcome.
Many Eagles fans will continue to question what on earth Chip Kelly is thinking and how he can possibly have the team's best interest at heart. Well the truth is that Kelly has a plan, no matter how distant it seems at this time. Kelly must see something great in Sam Bradford or he would not have bothered trading Nick Foles and a pick to the Rams for his rights. Yes, maybe Bradford was ultimately brought here to try and get Mariota, but the fact is that Kelly was not promised Mariota and getting him was never guaranteed. Video of a healthy Bradford shows an accurate gunslinger that probably has the talent to bring this team to paradise. Until then, Kelly will be scrutinized for every move he makes.
So lets take a quick look at how different this team is today. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin (wide receivers) are gone. Quarterback's Nick Foles and Michael Vick are gone. All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy is gone. Cornerback Carry Williams and Defensive End/Linebacker Trent Cole are gone. Jordan Matthews and Nelson Aghlor take over at receiver. Sam Bradford is the new field general at quarterback. Demarco Murray, Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles are the new backs. Kiko Alonso(MLB), Byron Maxwell(CB) and a series of defensive draft picks take over on defense. Of course, the ending is not yet written. However; Chip Kelly deserves the chance to sink or swim. At least we have finally witnessed a coach that takes chances. That is something Philadelphia sports have lacked forever. Now we play the waiting game.