Going Long with Geisler
By Andrew Geisler, The Miami Student
If we've learned one thing from the NFL's free agency period, it's that Eagles coach and head of football operations Chip Kelly is a man with a plan. And that leaves NFL watchers with one question: will Kelly's plan work?
Kelly broke into the NFL two years ago after a historically impressive run at Oregon (a 46-7 record in four seasons) and led the Eagles to two consecutive 10-6 finishes. This year, the Eagles sat at 9-3 when they limped to the season-end with a hapless Mark Sanchez as their quarterback.
In 2012, the Eagles went 4-12 and were utterly lost as a franchise. Kelly came in as the college football maven and ran the unlikely to work in the NFL up-tempo spread offense in vogue in college football. Based on the results stated above, it's safe to say it has worked and will continue to.
Eagles fans may be unhappy with some of Kelly's unconventional moves this offseason, but they show the mark of a savvy franchise runner. Like Browns fans with Bill Belichick in the '90s, Eagles fans may not realize what gift they have, but if the wins continue to pile up they'll have no choice but to embrace Kelly.
Kelly's choice to trade running back LeSean McCoy-who has carried the ball over 600 times in the last two seasons-to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso, an Oregon product, seemed to shock the league.
On top of Alonso, the Eagles also added Byron Maxwell of the Seahawks, who fits perfectly into the Philly defensive system.
Then Kelly replaced McCoy with Ryan Mathews from San Diego and DeMarco Murray, the NFL's leading rusher last year for the division rival Cowboys. Both Murray and Mathews are slightly younger and have roughly 60 percent the number of carries in their careers as McCoy does. They also led the league in yards per carry out of the shotgun last season.
Needless to say, it looks like the Eagles running game will recover just fine from the loss of the declining McCoy. Signing two marquee backs is also a smart move. It will lighten the carry load for both-especially given the fact that the Eagles still have scat back Darren Sproles on their roster. Kelly's also let Jeremy Maclin walk, just like he allowed Desean Jackson to do a year ago. Nick Foles, a guy who was never a great fit for the Kelly system, was traded to the Rams for the injury-riddled Sam Bradford.
Bradford is the other flashpoint for frustrated Eagles fans. Five years ago, Bradford was the first pick in the draft. Five years later, he's completed only two seasons and never had a winning record as a quarterback.
Bradford is still an upside player in the league. Bradford has said himself it doesn't hurt that the Eagles offense is quite similar to the one he ran at Oklahoma. It is a quarterback-friendly system. Before Foles' injury and the inconsistent play that resulted, even he was a pro bowler in the Kelly system for a season.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
Keep in mind the NFL is all about winning your division. The Eagles just poached the best player from the NFC East-winning Cowboys. Chances are good they'll be back at the top of the division next year.
With an improved defense and a truly terrifying running attack, Eagles fans and the rest of the NFL should be confident in Chip Kelly's plan. It looks like it's going to work.