Chip Kelly has brought Philadelphia its most entertaining offseason since Terrell Owens was here more than 10 years ago. Moves that have been questioned, praised and down-right puzzling for Eagles fans.
Since taking control as GM for the Birds, one message has been made clear by Kelly: this his team and what shapes his team is the culture he’s created.
Evan Mathis was just another victim who chose not to abide by that culture. On Thursday, Kelly cut the two-time Pro Bowler.
Mathis has been looking for a bigger contract for the past two seasons and chose not to attend voluntary OTAs during the past two weeks. And in true Kelly form, the coach refused to put up with a player putting himself before the team.
Now, the Eagles face the disadvantage of the departure of one of the best guards in the NFL and are left with journeyman Allen Barbre and 25-year-old Matt Tobin. Both of which are inexperienced at starting at the position. They also reportedly are signing free agent guard Jared Wheeler.
Barbre and Tobin appear to be the front-runners for now, with the possibility of Andrew Gardner competing with Tobin to fill the hole left by the release of Todd Herremans. Wheeler could also vie for starting job.
It seems like quite a task to replace both Mathis and Herremans. However the collective group the Eagles have in place could possibly work, as is, for Sam Bradford and the Eagles offense.
After being drafted by Carolina in 2005, Mathis started 15 games in three seasons. He then switched over to a Bengals uniform and only started seven games. Before signing with the Eagles, Mathis started zero games for the Dolphins. The case can be made that Mathis didn’t develop to the reliable guard he is until being signed by Andy Reid.
The biggest plus having Mathis was his ability to perform in Kelly’s up-tempo offense. Barbre and Tobin can now go a full offseason on the first team. Both who have been in the system themselves for two years now, working under offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
The worry is not necessarily having a viable starter, but the depth of the Eagles O-line.
Another positive is that Barbre and Tobin get to play beside Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce and Jason Peters. In which last year that wasn’t the case as Johnson was suspended for the first four games and Kelce was out with a sports hernia.
Only time will tell for the fate of the Eagles offensive line. For now there is of course concern, but don’t write off the two new starting guards yet. Chip Kelly hasn’t and Bradford’s knees hope to play 16 games behind anyone.