Chip Kelly rocked the offseason with his bold, crazy moves; like swapping Nick Foles for Sam Bradford and LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso. But there were rumours of an even bigger, crazier move in the lead up to the draft…
It was rumoured that Kelly wanted to move up to draft his old college pupil Marcus Mariota. At Oregon University before graduating to the NFL, Kelly and Mariota carved up college rivals with the up-tempo spread attack Kelly has tried to bring to the NFL. Under Kelly in 2012, Mariota threw for 2677 yards and 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions as well as rushing for 752 yards and five touchdowns. When Kelly took over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, he installed his no-huddle offense and won the NFC East in his first season.
Having missed out on another divisional crown last season, Kelly was given full control over personnel decisions and completely overhauled the team. Kelly wanted to find a quarterback that fitted his system better than Foles, and so traded for Sam Bradford. But so far this season, Bradford hasn’t looked great, lacking confidence and throwing inaccurately. When he was on the field for the Rams, Bradford’s accuracy was his greatest strength. But after several horrible injuries, he looks like a shadow of his former self. So would Kelly have been better off selling the farm and moving up to draft Mariota?
There were rumours of Kelly reaching out to both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans about reaching a deal to move up. Kelly apparently offered a king’s ransom for the picks, including Bradford, defensive end Fletcher Cox, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, two 1st round picks and a 3rd. Neither team agreed. Kelly commented on the rumours after selecting receiver Nelson Agholor with the _ pick, claiming that the price for Mariota had been too steep and denying any attempted trade. “We didn’t offer any players.” Kelly claimed. It’s hard not to blame Kelly for trying. Kelly’s scheme requires players that fit his exact specifications. The trade was Kelly’s opportunity to erase the final remnants of the Andy Reid regime and truly make the Eagles his own. However, with the offensive line and the running game struggling, the defense has been the saving grace of the Eagles this season.
The defense has kept Philly in the race for the NFC East, and two of its biggest contributors have been Kendricks and Cox, who leads the team with five sacks. But what about Mariota? Would he have benefitted better from playing in Philadelphia rather than Tennessee? Apart from his sensational opening week victory over Tampa Bay, Mariota has struggled behind a bad offensive line, much like Bradford in Philadelphia. Mariota has been sacked 19 times, while Bradford has been sacked 13 times. But Mariota has had the Titans contending in some close games this season, losing to the Bills and Colts by a combined three points before suffering an injury against Miami.
Meanwhile, it has seemed like the Eagles have won _ games despite Bradford playing poorly. Bradford has averaged 252.3 yards per game in seven games, compared to Mariota’s 247.8 in five. However, even with Bradford struggling, Kelly made the right decision in not trading up for Mariota. The Eagles have too many problems as it is, but would have more if Kelly had sold two of his best defensive players for a rookie quarterback.