Allow me to put this question out there:
Can we officially stop the perception that college-to-NFL coaches can’t succeed?
I’m starting to think these guys know what they’re doing. A lot more than the previous batch who gave the NFL the old “college try” (see what I did, there?). Bill O’Brien, Jim Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, and Chip Kelly are the last four to make the jump after successful stints with big time college football programs. What have they done since they’ve arrived? Combine to go 123-68, win six (6) division titles, three (3) Conference championships, and win one Super Bowl.
In other words times have changed.
The problem during free agency is that when names we recognize get shuffled around or let go, reactions have no middle ground. No one takes the time to step back and think “maybe this move is for the better.” In a perfect world that would happen, but we don’t live in a perfect world. So I’ll try to lend a level-headed two cents to the matter starting with…
Desean Jackson is a Pro Bowl level wide receiver with track speed. Chip Kelly decided he didn’t fit the culture and now he’s in Washington. Lesean McCoy has led the NFL in rushing over the last two years and is considered one of the top-3 running backs in the NFL. Chip Kelly decided he didn’t fit the culture and now he’s in Buffalo. Jeremy Maclin has been terrific since recovering from an ACL injury two seasons ago. Chip Kelly decided he was too expensive and he will take his talents to Kansas City.
So is Chip Kelly believing too much in his system and undervaluing the need for talent in the NFL? It’s hard to question a guy who has gone 10-6 his first two years with Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Be real, this is still a quarterback league, and that offense has put up serious numbers . granted that was with Lesean McCoy, but if McCoy doesn’t fit the mold of runner Kelly wants can you blame him for doing his own thing? I would counter that it wasn’t like he brought in a slouch in Kiko Alonso; and the pending addition of Byron Maxwell to the Eagles defense (which ranked in the bottom-10 in yards allowed, points/game, and total points allowed.
Tell me how McCoy, Maclin, and Jackson would have helped that side of the ball?
Better yet, when we all thought his day was done he traded Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford in a move that shocked just about everyone, myself included. What’s the catch? Look at the top-5 teams drafting this year (Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Oakland, and Washington); three of the five have their quarterbacks for the forseeable future and Tampa Bay seems content on drafting Winston. That means the Eagles have put themselves in a position to package Bradford and the picks they’ve accumulated to make a run at the Titans second overall pick.
I’ll let you decide who the Eagles would take at that spot.
*Note: Chip Kelly announced today that the Eagles don’t plan to move up to draft Marcus Mariota because the trade price is too steep. We will see if that changes as the draft approaches.
All of this is contingent on more work that needs to be done, and I’m not saying those departed guys are slouches; they’re elite for sure. But I like what Kelly has done this offseason with the additions, the trade movement, and the cap space he’s created ($44.7 million dollars to be exact). If the Eagles are competitive again next year and these moves payoff (as I believe they will) then Kelly’s philosophy of “Culture wins football” might not seem so crazy. Speaking of crazy…
San Francisco 49ers
What are the San Francisco 49ers doing?
Obviously, the retirements of Justin Smith and Patrick Willis can’t be helped. Carlos Hyde, I feel, is every down ready right now so the loss of Frank Gore is mitigated by his presence on the roster. After that? I can’t help you.
A buddy of mine pointed out that the last time the 49ers went through this type of rebuild the general manager at the time pointed out that it “cost too much to win.” But with the salary cap increasing a few smart moves make that statement ridiculous. Jed York said back in December they don’t raise “division” or “conference” championship banners and to hold him directly responsible if they don’t win a Super Bowl because, supposedly, they are in the business of raising Super Bowl banners. Well lets recap what the 49ers have done so far this offseason:
- You allowed the most successful head coach in more than a decade, Jim Harbaugh, to leave for the University of Michigan because apparently knocking on the door of a Super Bowl title for the first time in two decades wasn’t good enough.
- Despite coming into the offseason with more than $21 million dollars in cap space you can’t seem to attract any free agents to play there. *note: as of this writing wide receiver Torrey Smith signed a five-year, $40 million dollar contract
- You (the front-office) have alienated a fan base and screwed up (logistically and administratively) what should have been a banner year opening a new stadium.
- Oh, and lets not forget you allowed Jim Harbaugh to leave because, ego.
So here everybody is, Jed. Holding YOU responsible for this horrible roster deconstruction job. Only this time you can’t blame Jim Harbaugh or players supposedly “not wanting to be there because of him.” We’re beginning to see the real issue here.
In order to raise banners you have to work in concert with your on-field personnel. That means if a guy who has gone 44-19, won a conference championship, and two NFC West titles decides he wants to make a coaching change or change what they do philosophically on the field you aid him in that. Period. As insignificant as NFC and division championships are to you, those are important steps to raising those banners you talk about. Trent Baalke echoed York’s comments, but the only discussion you, Trent Baalke, should be having is with your family about not suggesting coaching changes via social media. Jed York’s best move was bringing in Jim Harbaugh and he subsequently screwed that up so the only thing he should do at this point is get out of the way and in a hurry because about a 13 hour drive North on I-5…
The two-time defending NFC Champion Seahawks are playing Chess while everyone else plays Whack-A-Mole.
I won’t downplay the loss of Max Unger on the offensive line which is already one of the worst in the NFL. But giving Russell Wilson a safety net like Jimmy Graham on bootlegs and plays that break down is about to take this offense to a different level. Before the Super Bowl I pointed out that I thought the play of the Seahawks tight end Luke Willson would be key during the game. The result was the Seahawks not targeting their tight ends once and, ultimately, becoming too one-dimensional in the passing game.
This move fixes that.
Graham will come in and immediately create matchup problems for opposing defenses and make what the Seahawks run that much more dangerous. Being that the 31st pick in the draft for the Seahawks may not have netted a player of Graham’s stature it was a no-brainer move for them. Don’t downplay the signing of Cary Williams to that secondary, either. that was a good move for the Seahawks to fill the hole (at least slightly) left by Byron Maxwell at a much more manageable cap number. Speaking of cap numbers and closing gaps…
I understand the logic behind the Dolphins aggressively going after Ndamukong Suh. He’s one of the best defensive players in the game and the best at his position. For what it’s worth as well, if you’re going to bother Tom Brady in the pass rush the inside is where you do it; and Suh can be quite bothersome.
What I don’t like is the price that comes with it.
I will never fault an NFL player for getting paid. Miami paying $60 million dollars guaranteed to Suh is a little hard to justify. Is he worth it? Sure, a lot of these players should look at the salary structure and figure out a way to guarantee themselves more when it comes time to negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement. Given the current structure, however, I have a hard time seeing how this isn’t going to hamstring them down the road when they need to re-sign Tannehill or pursue another quarterback if they choose.
The Dolphins fixed their interior issue but it will be interesting to see how this impacts things going forward.
Detroit Lions– Haloti Ngata coming to Detroit to replace Suh shows the Lions are serious about sticking around. Pro Football Focus sees Ngata as still very productive in stopping the run; the key will be his health.
New York Jets– Darrelle Revis going back to the Jets for $39 million guaranteed and the addition of Brandon Marshall is great. There’s still that glaring problem at quarterback that needs to be fixed, but to say the additions will make the team better is an understatement.