Let’s be honest: We’re just guessing whether Chip Kelly has a clue about personnel. There’s evidence, after two seasons, that he’s a topflight coach – although I still can’t figure why he didn’t try to run it in against the Niners. But can Joe College mold a franchise? We’ve pondered that since Jeff Lurie granted Kelly omnipotence in the New Year’s weekend purge.
We’re about to find out.
Free agency officially begins tomorrow. Kelly didn’t wait for the starting bell to reshape the Eagles quicker than any GM we’ve seen. This is more dynamic than adding TO and Jevon Kearse in 2004 (which worked), more radical than the Dream Team of 2011 (which failed).
The checklist, subject to change by the time you read this is:
Added: CB Byron Maxwell, ILB linebacker Kiko Alonso, RB Frank Gore, QB Mark Sanchez (new contract).
Subtracted: CB Cary Williams, G Todd Herremans, TE James Casey, OLB Trent Cole, RB LeSean McCoy, WR Jeremy Maclin.
Much more will occur over the next week. And, of course, this may all culminate in a Draft Day makeover with QB Marcus Mariota coming in as the presumptive savior. (For the record, I remain a “Stick with Nick” guy).
So as Kelly launches this plane off a cliff, and we all pray that he knows how to aviate, here are some observations:
- Clearly, this coach believes he can plug anyone in on offense and still score points. Dropping DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin kissed away 33 touchdowns and 5,576 yards in the past two years. Kelly, it appears, sees no need to spend big money for skill-position players – trusting that his system can beat anyone. And, perhaps “culture beats talent,” but there was absolutely nothing wrong with the culture Maclin brought to the team.
- No way Frank Gore is an upgrade over McCoy, except that he saves money that can be applied elsewhere. Gore is 32, and has never played in an offense with this hyper-speed pace. I’ll predict that his 2015 numbers decline the second half of the season as he yearns for rest and oxygen.
- I’m confident Byron Maxwell isn’t Son of Nnamdi, and I believe Kiko Alonso becomes a Pro Bowler. Quoting @joebanner13 on Twitter: “The Eagles are clearly switching assets from offense to defense. Counting more on scheme to score points and talent to stop them.” If nothing else, lifelong Eagles fans will treasure the return of a stout defense.
- Bottom line: I’m skeptical. Like most, I believe Kelly is an innovative football man, but his past reaches for Williams, Riley Cooper and Matt Barkley give me pause. And I’m convinced massive year-to-year turnover doesn’t work in the NFL.
But, hell. I don’t know. You don’t know. Lurie doesn’t know. We’re just hoping Chip really is the next Belichick and this ends up in a Super Bowl parade.
I just wish I could shed this nagging feeling that two or three years from now Chip is waving goodbye, on his way to Enormous State U. We’ll still be here, awaiting the next savior.