Four for Four: Inaugural Edition

2 of 5

Philadelphia Eagles

Number of the Week-22

22, as in the slot where the Philadelphia Eagles will be picking for the 2014 NFL Draft in May. A far cry from having the 4th overall selection like in 2013, the Eagles scouting and evaluation team will have their work cut out for them if they want to continue the team’s string of solid selections. Many argue that it was poor drafting toward the end of Andy Reid’s tenure that saw the NFL’s model of consistency sink to a laughable low. For a while, the team was drafting in the mid to late-20s and still able to replenish the talent pool on their roster before seeing their percentage of ‘hits’ decrease rapidly.

Fortunately, early indications are that the 2014 Draft class is superior to 2013 in term’s of impact talent. By season’s end, I was extremely impressed with Lane Johnson and it is tough to argue that either Luke Joeckel, whose season was cut short by injury; or Eric Fisher, who just was not that good; was a better pick in the long or short-term than the Eagles right tackle.

This year the team will not have the luxury of having the veritable pick of the litter and will need to play the draft game a bit more if they want to maximize their value with their selections. Not that its worth anything in particular, but the last 5 drafts have yielded impressive results from the 22nd pick. Percy Harvin (’09) and Demaryius Thomas (’10) are Pro Bowl level receivers on arguably the best teams in the NFL. Anthony Costanzo (’11) is in charge of arguably the most valuable blind side in the league, as he is the starting left tackle for the Indianapolis Colts. Brandon Weeden (’12) is the worst of the bunch, but teams reach for quarterbacks all the time and Weeden going to Cleveland was no exception. Finally, Desmond Trufant (’13) went through his share of growing pains as a defensive back for the disappointing Atlanta Falcons. That said, he has a solid bloodline being the brother of former All-Pro CB Marcus Trufant. He has an ideal combination of size and athleticism and it is tough to make a huge impact at such an important position as a rookie. The jury is still out, but I would not give up on Trufant yet.

I expect the team to address defense in the 1st round, as they focused on offense in 2013. Whether it is a pass-rushing linebacker, a safety, or even a cornerback there is a wealth of talent to choose from. Keep an eye on Stanford’s Trent Murphy or Clemson’s Vic Beasley as possible 1st round choices.

Is this Good-Bye?

This photo tweeted out by the Daily News’ Les Bowen could be the last time LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Michael Vick share a locker room together. Once seen as the electrifying trio that was going to overwhelm defenses into submission, now is more of an afterthought. Michael Vick has made it clear that he wants to continue to pursue the job of a starting quarterback and with Chip Kelly naming Nick Foles his 2014 starter, that will not happen in Philadelphia. It is possible that teams will not want to hitch their wagon to the injury-prone Vick, but with players like Jay Cutler getting paid a fortune, you never know what lengths a team will go to bring in a competent starter.

Vick brought so much energy to the team and city when he took over as starter in 2010. ‘Starship 7’ as he was dubbed by Jon Gruden, was the fiery competitor that Donovan McNabb never appeared to be. While his tenure is ending with a whimper, one cannot discredit the commitment to the organization Vick brought. He would have done anything to win and, when it was clear that Foles was the guy in 2013, the prideful Vick played the role of backup quite graciously. Performance aside, Vick is the type of player that fans should be proud to have on their team.

An Entry from the Tao of Chip Kelly

“I don’t have expectations.”

In his first end-of-season press conference, Chip Kelly was asked if Nick Foles exceeded his expectations in his first extended action as a starter. The head coach calmly responded with the somewhat puzzling response. It is only confounding in the sense that NFL fans are conditioned to think in a way that will allow them to project the performance of their team. Fans and analysts alike take great comfort in the extensive statistics that help them best predict the outcome of games and abilities of players.

Chip Kelly, from day one, has approached the NFL the same way he approached his first coaching job at the University of Columbia. There does not have to be just one way to approach this game. Everyone predicted that Chip Kelly would only achieve success with a mobile quarterback like he had at Oregon. It was laughable to think that a statuesque pocket passer could survive, let alone thrive in Kelly’s run-heavy offense. He would need someone who could run the read-option and many wondered if Kelly would go through quarterbacks at an accelerated rate due to the beating they took as ball-carriers.

Instead, Kelly utilized what he saw on film and on the field rather than the stats and measurables we all wrap ourselves up in to feel smarter. Kelly would expound on his statement saying that is was Foles’  demonstrated abilities that kept him entrenched in the starting position in 2013 and moving forward to 2014. One thing so unique about following the Eagles and Chip Kelly this season is the weekly bounty of quotes and quips that the quick-witted Kelly delivered in his press conferences. This snippet stood out to me due to its simplicity. It seemed like such a minuscule statement; but considering how we all follow football, it joins the long list of responses that have made Chip Kelly one of the most entertaining media presences this city has ever seen.