The Eagles will win a Super Bowl with Chip Kelly as their head coach. This I am certain.
I am also certain it won’t be this year, and possibly not until 2016.
So what does that leave us in the meantime? A talented, if incomplete team that’s still figuring out how to be a contender.
BTW: This is my season preview/Week 1 recap which is late, but kind of apropos since most weeks I’ll be watching Eagles games after they already happened.
I’m all in on Big Chip,( a certain former receiver who wore #10 called him that and it stuck.) I’ve bought all his stock. Everyone likes to make him out as this mad football scientist, but really he’s just the king of common sense. Take this sports science initiative. Why the hell haven’t teams been doing this before? With all the money they sink into these players, shouldn’t they always be trying to keep them in pristine playing condition?
Football is always made out to be this hugely complex sport with complicated offenses and defenses and foreign verbiage. Yet as Chip has repeatedly said, “It’s just football.” That’s why he wanted to prove he could coach at this level. He already proved his offense can work (second in total offense, first in rushing in 2013) and it’s no gimmick. Heck most of the league is already copying some of his tendencies, whether it’s music at practice or sports science.
Like James Franklin has made me more interested in recruiting, Chip has made me interested in how NFL offenses work. That, and the fantastic All-22 work done by Birds 247.
His desire to run the heck out of the ball is a refreshing change from the pass first, second third and fourth down tendencies of the Andy Reid era.
Is he without flaws? Of course not. I need to see him properly close out a game this year, as well as improve on his challenges. And oh, look, he’s already looking to get better at replay.
But while the Eagles have the coaching staff in place to win a championship, the roster is still not at a Super Bowl caliber yet.
Quarterback: I’m 75 percent in on Nick Foles, who after Sunday’s Jacksonville performance clearly is experiencing the regression that was undoubtedly going to come. I’m not going to panic. Yet. Foles doesn’t need to be elite, he just needs to be good enough (as he was last year). Eli Manning was good enough(twice, somehow) Joe Flacco was good enough as well.
This offense came easy enough to Foles last year, so not sure why it would be any different this year. Just don’t hold on to the ball as long, Nick. The offense is made to get rid of the ball quickly, that’s why there isn’t any necessity to have a running quarterback in this offense. Foles is slow as molasses but he ran it better than Mike Vick did last year, and everyone knows Foles keeping and running the ball on the read option doesn’t scare defenses one bit.
Wide Receivers: This is the most obvious position where Chip is trying to build the team as he desires. He cut his most productive receiver for “football reasons” and went out and spent high draft picks on two receivers who he believes to be better fits.
I’m 90 percent sold on the wide receivers. Yes, Jeremy Maclin is healthy but for how long? Still, even if he misses a few games, I trust that Foles will make good use of Riley Cooper and promising rookie Jordan Matthews. Matthews is a smart guy and a great talent. I have no worries about him getting off to a slow start. Especially when he’s not being asked to do a whole lot.
Still, this is a unit that I need to see play together for awhile, before I can erase some of my durability or productivity concerns.
Defense: I think the entire defense is still a year away, and there’s a couple square pegs trying to fit into round holes. Namely Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham. If those guys were better suited for this defense and could stay on the field longer it would be a significant difference. But even though they’re productive when they play, they just don’t stay on the field enough. But
The cornerback situation is odd too. Their best corner, Brando Boykin, sees almost all of his playing time in the nickle formation. Yet, this guy had 6 interceptions in 2013, second most in the league, and has proven he can be a big time playmaker. I know he lacks the requistie height they want in their corners, but it just seems silly to keep him sidelined for a better chunk of the game.
The way I see it, tight end and running back are the only positions that in no way, shape or form, need to be tinkered with.
My comparison with Chip and the Eagles is Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, another college coach who moved up to the NFL level. Of course, their coaching tendencies are different, Chip is an offense guy, while Pete is a defensive guy. And Carroll had two previous NFL coaching stints, and won national championships at USC while Chip has neither such items to put on his resume.
Still, different coaching backgrounds aside, I believe that Kelly’s NFL arc will follow Carroll’s.
Both made the playoffs in their first year, even if their regular seasons weren’t very good. Both have unique practice styles that allow their players maximum performance on gamedays and throughout the rigors of an NFL season.
Now in his 5th season, Carroll has his Super Bowl title, but also the best defensive unit in the league. He relies on his offense to be good, but not carry the team.
The Eagles are engineered the opposite as the Pacific Northwest birds, with an offense first, defense second identity. But Chip already has arguably the NFL’s best offense in just his second year. So is he ahead of Carroll’s pace? Too hard to determine right now.
Of course, Seattle has done a great job finding hidden gems in the draft like Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, who were both fifth round selections. (They also took the novel approach of making a slam dunk pick in Earl Thomas in the first round of the 2010 draft).
The bottom line of all this drivel is this: With another year or two of on-field success, albeit not of the Super Bowl variety, and getting the right pieces to fit the defensive puzzle, the Eagles should be definite Super Bowl contenders in two years.
Patience and Eagles fans do not go hand in hand, this is not news.
But when you can buy a ticket and take the ride on the Chip Kelly express, it makes the wait for a Super Bowl a little more palatable.