Tomorrow at 7:15, a handful of Eagles reporters will have to pry themselves out of bed (at their five-star hotel in sunny Orlando) earlier than they might prefer, as Philadephia Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly is required to speak extensively for the first time this off-season, at the NFL Owners meetings.
Given all that has transpired (and likely will between now and when Chip speaks) over the last few weeks with DeSean Jackson, the future of the wideout will certainly be the hottest topic discussed. Beyond that, here are some things you can look for Chip to be asked, and how he will respond.
His thoughts on Michael Vick leaving to sign with the Jets
This one should be pretty simple. Kelly will talk about how he appreciates everything Vick did in his time in Philly, the leadership qualities that he brought in the times of turmoil in the locker-room, and he will wish him the best of luck with the Jets. (In his head Kelly will thinking about how Vick is screwed to have to leave an offensive genius like him and work with Marty Mornhinweg again.)
The two were the biggest free-agents at perhaps the biggest area of need on the team, and the Eagles were among the the league leaders in cap space. Those facts alone, were bound to generate speculation that the Eagles would sign one of the two. The fact that the two are both Oregon products (and Ward was a Senior in Kelly’s first year as head-coach), drew even more connections that the two would land in Philly. (As we know, Byrd ended up in New Orleans and Ward signed with the Broncos.)
Expect Kelly to talk about how the team was content to bring back Nate Allen, and sign Malcolm Jenkins, and still could improve the position in the draft or internally (with a player like Earl Wolff continuing to develop).
His reaction to the Eagles free-agent signings/acquisation of Darren Sproles
Chip will delve into the signings of Chris Maragos and Bryan Braman, and how they will help to improve the special teams unit. Along those same lines, he will also talk about how the team made upgrading the special team’s until a priority this off-season.
Chip should also discuss the leadership aspect that the team gets in Malcolm Jenkins, which I’m sure the team valued considering that both Michael Vick and Jason Avant are gone. He also should be an upgrade at safety.
While I wouldn’t expect him to answer directly how he plans to use Darren Sproles, getting to talk about his new offensive weapon and not DeSean Jackson for a second, should get a smile out of Chip.
If the team has signed Mark Sanchez and his views on him/ramifications on Matt Barkley and Nick Foles
I’m not sure when exactly it will be made official and we will get the terms of the Mark Sanchez deal, but he will be joining the Eagles.
Chip will get asked about Sanchez, and likely talk about how he played well against him in their days in the Pac-10 and he’ll talk about what he likes about Sanchez. If the deal isn’t official yet, he will likely compliment Sanchez like this, but won’t answer any further questions about Sanchez.
(Should the deal be finalized prior to 7:15 A.M.)
I wouldn’t want to be the guy to ask it, but someone will ask Chip if Sanchez will have any chance to be the starter. Once Chip shoots that down and says Nick Foles will be the starter, the bigger question is the future of Matt Barkley. I would expect Chip to dance around this question (and the inevitable follow-ups), try to show some confidence in Barkley, and not guarantee the backup spot to either.
The Eagles draft plans
This will be a throw-in question by whatever reporter doesn’t get to ask about DeSean, but it needs to be asked. I’m sure Chip will talk about how they like the amount of picks that they have and the position that they are in, and how they will draft the best available players. Beyond that, don’t expect him to go into what positions that the team is targeting in May’s draft, because it might be too early for them to even be sure.
And of course, number 10
I wouldn’t expect Chip to give a company line about DeSean like Howie Roseman did when he talked about how Jackson is still under contract. Due to the fact that he has more day-to-day interactions with Jackson, Chip will likely say that he doesn’t dislike DeSean and that the two did talk Monday night, as DeSean informed us of.
NOTE TO THE WORLD: Just because Chip says that the team doesn’t plan on moving him or talks about how he expects Jackson to be with the team in training camp, doesn’t mean they aren’t going to move him. I’m not sure if the Eagles have any leverage left in trade talks with Jackson as it is, but if they do, it would all go away if Chip said that he didn’t want DeSean back or that he is a pain in his ass.
Essentially, 70% (at least) of the presser will be Chip answering DeSean questions. I wouldn’t expect him to drop any bombshells, but him getting impatient when repeatedly asked about DeSean, should be expected.
Regardless of what happens, I’m not a morning person, so I’ve shoveled off the coverage of Chip’s presser to my co-editor Somers Price. Actually, I’m not a morning person at all, but I will be awake listening to Chip. Somers will be here with what I’m sure will be great coverage after Chip’s discussion with the media.