The coaches seat is getting hot in Philly, by Lijah Spencer (@tweaked74)
Chip Kelly could be in trouble if this season is not a successful one. The Philadelphia Eagles finished 10-6 in both of his first two seasons as head coach, but that was with a mostly inherited team. This season is different, not only is it his 3rd as coach, but it is his first as general manager as well, and he made a flurry of moves that left the city scratching their heads. Two years ago the team outright released pro bowl wide receiver Desean Jackson, who was coming off a career year in Chip Kelly’s offseason and was still in his prime. Kelly wasn’t the GM, but it was clear throughout the season that he was not enamored with Jackson’s personality, and there is no doubt that the release was his doing. That did hurt the team on the field last year to a point, they had trouble stretching the field from time to time without a player with Jacksons speed and ability. This offseason Kelly traded all pro RB Lesean Mccoy, who also is still in his prime, and is thought of by many as the best running back in the entire NFL. The Eagles received Linebacker Kiko Alonso, a young athletic player who had a stellar rookie season but was sidelined with an ACL tear in his knee all of last year.
Just when the city was getting used to that idea Kelly made another stunning move, he traded away starting QB Nick Foles and a second round pick for Sam Bradford. Yes, the same Sam Bradford who has suffered two ACL injuries. Most everyone thought Kelly would trade up to draft Marcus Mariota, but this did not happen, and it is Bradford who looks to be the starter this season. In free agency Kelly signed not one but two running backs to try to replace “shady” Mccoy, the first being former Dallas Cowboy Demarco Murray, who carried the ball over 300 times last season, and until last season he himself dealt with an extensive injury history. Then they signed former Charger Ryan Mathews who is a good player, but again has an extensive injury history. Kelly did sign former Seahawk CB Byron Maxwell and drafted CB/S Eric Rowe hoping to improve a porous secondary, but he did not address an aging offensive line with holes in it. To me the whole season hinges on that dangerous phrase, ”if he can stay healthy”, and that is a scary proposition. Bradford has been on bad teams, with a bad offensive line and mediocre wide receivers. Watching him on film, he has more skill than Nick Foles. A stronger arm, more accurate, a quicker release, but… can he stay healthy? Demarco Murray had a career year last season, but running backs that have over 300 carries in one season usually see a significant drop off in production the next, and… can he stay healthy? In theory Murray won’t need to be as productive as last year because Ryan Mathew can help share the load, but… can he stay healthy?
Chip Kelly believes in his sports science program, and he drafted some good players that should contribute. He looks to have filled the wholes that some think he himself created, but did the team really get better? Murray or Shady? Bradford or Foles? If everyone stays healthy, and that is a big if, the team should be improved and be competitive. But if one, or all of these players go down with another injury, or just never come back healthy to start with, then The Eagles will struggle, and the city of Philadelphia will start to turn on Chip Kelly, they are hungry for a winner, and this team had stars, now they have a bunch of players that might or might not be good.