In an offseason that just recently began, the Philadelphia Eagles have been controversial, confusing, and simply unpredictable. A lot of what Chip Kelly has done is beginning to make more sense after what has unfolded however.
The Eagles have signed the 2014 league leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, stealing him from their most hated rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. And they weren’t done there, they signed Ryan Mathews, from San Diego, who when healthy is a very good back.
Along with Darren Sproles, this has the potential to be extremely dynamic and devastating. When Kelly traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford, he left the football world in disarray. No one could comprehend why Kelly would trade for a quarterback who has a long injury history and who is set to make $12.9 million next season.
Bradford was DeMarco Murray’s roommate at Oklahoma where they played together and had a close relationship. He admitted to recruiting Murray to come to Philadelphia.
“I’ve been trying my hardest. I’ve called him. I’ve texted him. We’ve been in communication and I think if we could somehow land DeMarco, it would be a great pickup.”
If Bradford is protected he can be very good, especially in Chip’s fast-paced offense that is quarterback friendly. He ran a fast-paced offense at Oklahoma and is deadly accurate with a great arm.
Many thought Kelly was plotting to draft Marcus Mariota but Kelly dispelled the notion of mortgaging the future for one player.
So after losing LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, and Nick Foles, the Eagles looked as if they were regressing substantially, but now they look lethal.
Stacking the Backfield
Chip is fond of running backs that run north and south, and he acquired Murray who optimizes that style. Unlike Dallas, the Eagles will not have to abuse Murray now that they have an elite number two option in Mathews. Sproles adds explosion and the ability to receive out of the backfield at a high level too.
Nothing is played on paper but as of now there cannot be many people disputing the fact that the Eagles look to have the best backfield in the NFL.
Improving the Secondary
Philadelphia has also added pieces to the defense that ranked in the bottom two of the NFL in passing yards allowed over the past two seasons. They signed cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond III immediately as free agency began.
Maxwell and Thurmond played together in Seattle where they won a super bowl. Bringing in two talented corners with chemistry is exactly what Philly needed. Also adding Kiko Alonso and re-signing Brandon Graham made an already good front seven younger and possibly better.
Safety is still a major need, but the Birds will have the opportunity to address that in the draft, or even in a trade; anything is possible with Kelly in charge. Philadelphia also has to upgrade the receiver position to pair along with Jordan Matthews. Riley Cooper is not a good number two option. He had a terrible year in 2014, struggling to get open. Look for Josh Huff, who showed glimpses of what he could bring to the offense, to have a bigger role next season.
Chip has made the Eagles the most intriguing team in all of sports. With such little pro experience, Kelly is demonstrating confidence in his system and in the players who fit what he is building.
For all the fans that are questioning why the Birds seem to be bringing in several injured players, attribute that to Kelly’s belief in his sports science program.
Next season cannot come soon enough.