ARE YOU A CHIP KELLY BELIEVER???
Fast forward to this week. After there was pretty much total silence from any of the Eagles Brass, a HUGE NEWS STORY broke on Tuesday. It was announced that the Eagles have agreed to trade franchise running back, LeSean McCoy, to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Who???? Fans and analysts alike were saying to themselves...who exactly is Kiko Alonso? Well, Alonso was the defensive rookie of the year in 2013 during his first season as the middle linebacker for the Bills. Last season saw him go down for the year with an ACL tear. However; at only 24 years of age, the sky is the limit for Alonso and he could be a diamond in a rough.
Of course, for the past month there have been numerous rumors and reports that the Eagles and Chip Kelly are planning on doing whatever it takes to trade up in the draft to get Heisman quarterback, Marcus Mariotta. This kind of move would normally be a pipe dream. However, there is a long history between Mariotta and Kelly, beginning with Kelly's recruitment of the star quarterback at Oregon. Another reason this move makes total sense is that Marriotta would be the perfect fit in Chip's offense with the Eagles, due to playing the exact same system with the Ducks. In fact, Marriotta could thrive in this offense and be the piece that finally gets this team over the hump. With the draft still over a month away, this story will be the largest debate in the NFL.
In the meantime, NFL free agency begins on Tuesday at 12:00AM. So with less than a week away, there are so many possibilities and scenarios that could happen. First of all, back to the McCoy trade, it should not be a total surprise to fans that Chip Kelly would trade a Pro Bowl player away, after trading star receiver DeSean Jackson just last year. Of course, trading McCoy for a non big name linebacker may have shocked many people. But, any true fan or analyst cannot weigh the success of this trade. One huge positive of the trade is that it frees up 8 million dollars in cap space to sign key free agents. Well, Kelly was extremely busy this week. Along with trading McCoy, the Eagles have released Todd Herremans(OL), Trent Cole(DE/LB), Cary Williams(CB), and will probably be letting Demaco Ryans(LB) before Sunday. All of these transactions will leave the Eagles with over 60 million dollars to spend in free agency.
While many people are saying that Chip has lost his marbles, one must appreciate his confidence in making difficult player personnel decisions that may or may not be "Fan Friendly." The Eagles have not won a championship since 1960. This team has never won a Super Bowl. So this is all or nothing. Chip will either bring this team a championship and be the biggest hero in Philadelphia history, or he will be the biggest bust as well as the most hated person in sports. While many are frustrated and confused by all of these untraditional moves that Kelly has and continues to make, I admire his risk taking personality. If a coach is going to run his system and preach his philosophy, he may as well be all in. It's not like the swimmer that dips their foot in the water. Hell, Kelly is doing a cannonball in this situation.
Before anyone begins to bash this coach and what he is doing...please know this. Kelly definitely has a plan and he is not worried what you or I feel as fans. He has one agenda and one agenda only, to win a Super Bowl. With over 60 million dollars in cap space and the apparent plan to trade up and draft Mariotta, the Eagles future could become brighter sooner than later. There are a large amount of free agents to sign, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles are expected to go hard after Byron Maxwell, the best cornerback in free agency. The Eagles also have their eye on outside pass rusher, Jason Worlieds(LB), who has played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Of course, the Eagles need to resign number one wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and or another free agent wideout. They also need to replace McCoy. There are a good amount of free agent running backs for Kelly to choose with the best being Demarco Murray, C.J. Spiller, Mark Ingram, Reggie Bush, Justin Forsett, and Shane Verreen. Murray does not make sense or look like a fit because he will command close to McCoy money. However; the Eagles should be able to get these other backs at a fairly cheap price to join Darren Sproles and Chris Polk as the three headed monster. And then there is the draft. If Kelly feels that Foles is not the answer, and that Marriotta is such a special talent, then Chip needs to get his man, no matter what the cost. If it takes 2 First Round Picks and two seconds along with Foles, then so be it.
Anyways, there is so much yet to come for this Eagles team. One thing is for sure though. Chip Kelly does have a detailed plan and no one is off limits or above the team. Yes, trading McCoy is getting rid of the best player on the team. However, if this sacrifice allows the team to sign more free agents and possibly bring this team a championship, then everyone will be drinking the Kool Aide. It is understandable that this may look like an ego thing and that there are personal reasons for the moves that Kelly has made because these players were "NOT HIS GUYS!" But please fans, give this man a chance. He has taken this team to back to back 10-6 seasons with one playoff appearance. And this has been accomplished with a horrible defense. If this team can sign free agents and make this a respectable defense, the sky is the limit. C'mon folks...we gave Andy Reid fourteen years to win. Lets at least see if Kelly knows what he is doing.