By: Justin Salmasi
Chip Kelly and the Eagles have hit the ground running this off-season. Though I advocated for trust in this coach’s unorthodox decisions, even I was shocked when Nick Foles was traded to St. Louis for Sam Bradford. Nevertheless, the splash signings of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews have reinforced some of that trust in Kelly. Now that there is an idea of where this team is headed, it’s important for fans to remain grounded. Chip Kelly is clearly a fan of Game of Thrones, considering the decisions he’s made, so it’s important not to get overly attached to any player. However, assuming this is the core group that Chip plans to move forward with, there are still many pieces that need to be added before Week 1.
While signing a receiver with some mileage can be risky, it can prove to be invaluable for a quarterback like Sam Bradford, who is looking to rebuild his confidence. Jordan Matthews finished his rookie campaign red hot, but it’s important to acknowledge that he had the pleasure of being the second option behind Jeremy Maclin. Now that defenses are aware of Matthews’ ability, and Jeremy Maclin has departed, it would be wise to pair him with a legitimate threat and take the pressure off. Following his 2014 season, Pro Football Focus graded Riley Cooper (the current #2 threat to Matthews) as the worst starting wide receiver in the league. If Sam Bradford is to succeed, he’s going to need more options. A reasonably priced Michael Crabtree could be the missing piece to keeping this offense rolling in 2015.
Chip Kelly has emphasized that he will not be “mortgaging his team” to land Marcus Mariota. If that is indeed the case, the Eagles’ offensive line needs to be addressed as soon as possible. There is still a void that must be filled after releasing Todd Herremans. Tobin and Gardner showed flashes last season, but fans will need to have more assurance that Sam “Mr. Glass” Bradford will have optimal protection when running Chip’s QB-centric offense. Justin Blalock is a decent stop-gap option for the upcoming season, along with other aging free agents that may accept an economically feasible contract. Ultimately, the Eagles should look to the draft to address the guard position.
Chip has made some serious moves this off-season. The signing of Byron Maxwell drastically improved the cornerback situation. While not nearly as exciting, the acquisition of Walter Thurmond is an unquestionable upgrade as well. However, Chip cannot stop there. Now that the team has officially given up on the Nate Allen experiment, the free safety position is vacant. While this may be a stretch, the Eagles’ best case scenario in this draft would be to target former Alabama safety Landon Collins. Since Malcolm Jenkins has the ability to play either safety position, this pickup could solidify the secondary for the foreseeable future. Forget Marcus Mariota, Collins is a player the Eagles might make a move for.
Ever since the start of Free Agency, Chip Kelly has been doing everything in his power to build the Philadelphia Eagles his way. While we saw many Philadelphia stars depart, Fans should look at this situation with a “glass-half-full” attitude. On paper, the Eagles defense has vastly improved and should only get better in the draft. Setting aside the eccentricity of his moves, thus far, Chip Kelly is finding ways to address the needs of his team. If new faces can help this offense produce the way it always has, the Philadelphia Eagles will be a more complete team in 2015. Hopefully our hearts can make it until then.