Philadelphia Eagles: Revisiting Chip Kelly’s Marcus Mariota trade offer

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

After an ugly showing against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3, it’s abundantly clear Chip Kelly was crazy to offer the Philadelphia Eagles’ farm for Marcus Mariota.

There once was a time when Marcus Mariota looked like the Philadelphia Eagles‘ savior.

Dubbed the ‘Peyton Manning of the spread offense’ for his advanced schematic knowledge and prowess in the pocket, Mariota dazzled college football as a member of the Oregon Ducks, leading the team to an 36-5 record while amassing 10,796 passing yards and 105 touchdown through the air and 2,237 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

And in a sweet twist of fate, the college head coach who identified the Hawaii native and cultivated him into a legit NFL prospect just so happened to be the head coach of the quarterback hungry Eagles: Chip Kelly.

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In a way, it almost seemed like fate that the two parties would reunite at the pro level and take the league by storm with Kelly’s unique brand of fast-paced, spread the ball around offense, but one man, Ruston Webster came in to ruin it all.

Despite being offered two first-round picks, a second-round pick, any quarterback on the team and any defensive player(s) on the team, the Titans’ then-GM held fast and remained wholly committed to selecting Mariota second overall, the team’s second first-round Pac-12 quarterback selection in five years.

Ruston, if you’re reading this, thank you.

Now don’t get me wrong, at times, Mariota has looked like a promising signal-caller over his first five years in the league, but those flashes have become fewer and farther between with each passing season, leading to very serious conversations over whether or not he should even start for the Titans over ex-Miami Dolphins stalwart Ryan Tannehill during the preseason.

While Mariota did prove some doubters wrong by defeating the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, that game had much more to do with a collapse by Freddie Kitchen‘s squad in his first game at head coach, low lighted by a three-interception performance by Baker Mayfield, than it did with a light bulb flickering performance by the ex-Duck.

Through the air, the lame-duck quarterback has completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 706 yards 4:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. While it’s hard to directly compare those numbers to the rest the league, as the Titans have played one more game than every team but the Jacksonville Jaguars, but average wise, they aren’t particularly jaw-dropping.

Just for context, despite an ugly showing in Week 2, Carson Wentz has been far more effective than Mariota in 2019, completing 64.6 percent of his passes for 544 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Sure, those numbers aren’t great either, but they are far more encouraging especially when you consider the motley crew of receivers Wentz had the displeasure of throwing to in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Granted, it’s hard to really compare the two players straight up, as Wentz helms a forward-thinking, creative offense, whereas Mariota now operates as a glorified game manager in a run-focused assault, but even in an optimal spread situation, it’s hard to imagine Marcus out playing Carson straight up.

With less scripted plays thrown to less open receivers, the cerebral quarterback’s lack of elite arm strength has been on display at the pro level. Furthermore, despite having the athletic tools to elude pressure and extend plays, Mariota was sacked an insane nine-times in Week 3 alone, bringing his season total to 17 – putting the probably terrified quarterback on pace for 90 on the season.


Maybe under the watchful eye of someone like Kelly, those flaws could be glossed over, but Mariota is on his third head coach in five seasons, and once again had to learn a new offensive system this summer after watching his 2018 offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur jump ship to become the new head coach of the Green Bay Packers.

Be it a lack of confidence, a lack of creativity, or a lack of player development, Mariota has firmly underperformed his draft positioning and may very well be looking for a new team to play for in 2020 once his current contract expired.

You know, the Eagles will probably be in the market for a new backup QB next summer, barring of course a Darren Sproles-style double unretirement, wouldn’t it be ironic for the team to end up with Mariota after all?

Next. Carson Wentz must earn his money this week. dark

But regardless of what the future may hold, and believe me, I am now fully on the #MariotaToTheEagles2020 bandwagon, it’s abundantly clear the Philadelphia Eagles are better off with Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson than they would have been with Marcus Mariota, and whichever coach the team hired in 2017, 2018, or 2019. If Chip Kelly can’t even field a winning record at UCLA, begrudgingly my alma mater, he had no business being a head coach in the NFL, and trading the farm for Mariota would have only kicked that proverbial can down the road a season or two more with a much less talented team.