Chip Kelly is either operating as a being with superior intelligence to any mere mortal, or the Philadelphia Eagles are about two frays away from a franchise unraveling that might take years to get back on a spool.
Unless there is another ace up his sleeve – and somehow Marcus Mariota becomes an Eagle through a massive trade — Kelly will be going to war with Sam Bradford, a discard from the St. Louis Rams. Bradford was once a number one draft pick in the NFL. But he comes to Philadelphia with two repaired torn ACL’s and a resume of non-success when healthy.
So let’s take inventory. Are the Eagles better off today than they were last year? They have swapped Nick Foles for Bradford and LeSean McCoy for DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews. With a new wide receiver joining the fray (there HAS to be another wide receiver coming, either via a signing or a draft pick), the birds can’t be any worse than they were last year.
There is a statistic that tells us running backs who tote a football for 370 carries or more in a season, hit a stone wall the following season and aren’t nearly as efficient. Murray has 392 carries last year. But in a configuration with Matthews and Darren Sproles, and even Chris Polk with the occasional carry, Kelly might be okay. When DeMarco Murray throws himself on your lap, you have to take him and worry about things later.
Defensively, they are better. Adding Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond at cornerback are much better than what they had last year. Kiko Alonzo is also coming off an ACL tear, but he makes the Eagles linebacker corps better. I’m not so sure about Brandon Graham at outside linebacker.
There is a faction of fans who think still that Mariota is coming. The latest speculation is that the Eagles would trade Bradford and Murray to the Tennessee Titans to get the No. 2 pick in the draft. Get it out of your head. The thing that prevents teams from giving you high draft picks is when you want to trade them veteran salaries. Bradford makes $13 million next season. Murray makes $8.5 million. If you think the Titans think that would be a good deal, then maybe you’re about two frays away from unraveling.