NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles

PHILADELPHIA -- There are two ways to look at this one. When Tony Dungy compares Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, you might think, “Great! Rodgers was taken 24th in the 2005 NFL draft! The Eagles can get Mariota at No. 20 this year.”

Rodgers
Mariota
On the other hand, of course, it is true that Rodgers’ slide to the latter part of the first round is looked back on as one of the more embarrassing miscalculations by NFL teams. Maybe not as bad as Russell Wilson going in the third round to Seattle in 2012, but pretty close.

According to JoeBucsFan.com, Dungy dismissed critics who say that Mariota is entirely a product of Oregon’s system.

"They said the same thing about Aaron Rodgers, and he went late in the first round [that] year,” Dungy said. “And the feeling was that Alex Smith was a little more ready. I think Marcus will adapt and he’ll be fine."

Dungy has more than a passing interest. His son Eric is a wide receiver at Oregon. Dungy has seen Mariota play a lot more than he has watched Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the other top quarterback prospect in this year’s draft.

"If I watched Jameis as much, and knew as much about him, I’d probably have a similar opinion,” Dungy said. “But I just think Marcus is going to be sensational in the NFL."

As sensational as Rodgers, which is pretty sensational.

“I think Marcus has a lot of the same skill set,” Dungy said. “He has the same drive and determination. I just really think the world of him as a person. I just think he’s special.”

Dungy has advised Eagles head coach Chip Kelly about hiring a personnel adviser. There isn’t much need for Dungy to lobby Kelly on the potential of Mariota. Kelly said in December that Mariota is “the most talented” player he coached during his years in college.

The Eagles’ chances of drafting Mariota are obviously not very good. The team with the best chance to take him is Dungy’s former employers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers hold the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.

It may be more popular in Tampa to draft the Florida State star. But no team wants to be the one that passed on the chance to get a talent like Aaron Rodgers. There were 23 of those teams in 2005.

 
PHILADELPHIA – There seems to be a lot of handwringing about the Philadelphia Eagles’ salary cap and its possible impact on the team’s 2015 roster. As Aaron Rodgers would say, “Relax.”

It is possible that Chip Kelly will decideJeremy Maclin is not worth the estimated $12 million salary he would get if the Eagles place the franchise tag on him. It is also possible that Kelly will seek to reduce LeSean McCoy’s cap number, which is just under $12 million. There is always the possibility Kelly will decide to go cheaper at both positions and move on from the two veterans.

Maclin
McCoy
But Kelly will not be forced to do either of those things because of the Eagles’ salary-cap situation. That’s a point that Kelly himself made the day after the season ended.

“I think since I've been here, one of the attractive things about this job, there are not cap issues,” Kelly said. “You don't look at it and go, ‘Oh, my God. We're going to have to cut 12 players because we're going to be $40 million over the cap.’ “

The 2015 NFL salary cap is expected to be about $140 million. The Eagles are already under that number, but still have a fair numbers of roster spots to fill. Maclin, as one example, does not count under their 2015 cap because he simply doesn’t have a 2015 contract yet.

The Eagles also can create a lot more cap space if they choose to do so. Several players with large cap numbers – McCoy, Trent Cole ($11.65 million), DeMeco Ryans ($6.9 million), Cary Williams ($8.17 million), Riley Cooper ($4.8 million), Brent Celek ($4.8 million), James Casey ($4 million), Todd Herremans ($5.2 million), Evan Mathis ($6.5 million) – could be in line for restructured deals that convert salary to bonus money. Some could be released.

The key point is this: The Eagles’ leading rusher and leading receiver, McCoy and Maclin, are not in danger for salary cap reasons. Kelly could choose to allot their salary cap space in other ways, but that would be his choice.

The Eagles signed McCoy’s deal in May 2012, just three years ago. All McCoy has done since is rush for 3,166 yards despite missing four games in 2012. He led the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards in 2013 and, despite injuries along the offensive line, was third in the league in 2014.

Given that production and his age (McCoy is 26), if his salary cap number is too high for 2015 then the Eagles agreed to a terrible contract.

The real reason the Eagles’ cap is so flexible isn’t so much astute cap management as it is the lack of a market-value quarterback on the roster. In Dallas, for instance, Tony Romo’s $27.7 million cap number in 2015 consumes 21.2 percent of the Cowboys’ entire salary cap. Nick Foles and Matt Barkley combined consume 1.17 percent of the Eagles’ salary cap for 2015.

Maclin has a choice in free agency, unless the Eagles choose to use the franchise tag. The Eagles have the rights to McCoy and no pressing financial reason to relinquish them. That’s the bottom line here.
PHILADELPHIA – LeSean McCoy's body tells him one thing. His contract may be saying something else.

There has been a lot of speculation that McCoy’s future with the Philadelphia Eagles could be in doubt because of his contract. McCoy is due to make $9.75 million in 2015, with a salary cap hit of $11.95 million. His cap number drops by $3 million in 2016.

McCoy
In a conversation with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, broadcast on NBC Sports Radio, McCoy said he didn’t expect the contract to spur the Eagles to release him.

“I don’t feel like that,” McCoy told Florio. “I really don’t. The type of player that I am, the teammate, how I feel about my franchise and what I mean to them -- I’ve got a great relationship with my coaches and teammates. That’s not in my mindset that it would happen to me. But it’s a business. Anything can happen.”

The Eagles and McCoy could restructure the deal to lower the cap charge. But if there is reason to release a 26-year-old running back, that means it’s a poorly conceived contract. And the Eagles were half responsible for that.

McCoy won’t turn 27 until July. He led the NFL in rushing in 2013. His numbers were down in 2014, but that was largely due to injuries along the Eagles’ offensive line. McCoy still finished third in the NFL with 1,319 rushing yards.

“When the standards are really high,” McCoy said, “when you set the mark at a certain level, I can understand (the perception that he had a down year). I like it like that. Next year, when I do it again, they’ll be back on me.”

McCoy said he had a “little knee injury” from the season finale against the Giants. It kept him from the Pro Bowl but is not bothering him now, he said.
Florio asked how many more seasons McCoy has in him.

“I think I’ve got a good four dominant years like I’ve been playing, production-wise,” McCoy said. “But we’ll see.”

McCoy’s contract runs through 2017. It pays him $6.9 million in 2016 and $7.6 million in 2017.
PHILADELPHIA -- Nick Foles has heard the talk. While he was working out in Philadelphia, it would have been impossible for Foles to avoid the speculation that the Eagles covet Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Foles
“I just don’t think about it,” Foles said Thursday in an appearance on "Pro Football Talk Live" on NBC Radio. “It’s definitely going to be brought up. It’s been brought to my attention many times, because that’s just part of it. You’re going to have family members see it; you’re going to be asked about it. I haven’t heard anything otherwise. I expect to be back in Philly and leading my teammates.”

Foles did the Radio Row rounds in Phoenix. He told PFT host Mike Florio that his recovery from a broken collarbone was going well.

“Feels great,” Foles said. “I’ve really been training hard. Rehab was going great in Philly. I’m just continuing to progress. I have to wait a little while to be back on the field because it’s the offseason for us. But I can’t wait to be out there and ready to go.”

That echoes what Foles said in his one news conference with the Philadelphia media after the season ended. He has made a point of stressing that he plans to remain the Eagles’ leader.

But part of the reason for the speculation about Mariota is Foles’ performance in 2014. He earned the starting job by throwing 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in 2013. In eight starts in 2014, Foles threw 13 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.

The Eagles went 6-2 in Foles’ starts, however.

“I just wasn’t executing as well,” Foles told Florio. “Each year, teams get more information on you and make it tougher and tougher. I definitely had a few more interceptions than I would like and turnovers, but it comes down to winning the games. No matter what, if you do have interceptions, you can’t let that defeat you. That’s always been my mindset.

“That’s the team’s mindset. If I throw an interception during a game – which did happen – when I come to the sideline, the defense would say, 'I have your back, I’m going to get the ball back.’ They would either stop them or get the ball back for us. We’d go back and score. That’s what team football is all about.”
PHILADELPHIA -- The danger signs are everywhere. It will be entirely up to Chip Kelly to avoid them and make this new order work in the Philadelphia Eagles' front office.

Kelly convinced Eagles owner Jeff Lurie that he could coach the team and handle all the important duties of a general manager, as well. Lurie shoved GM Howie Roseman aside and handed control of the football operation to Kelly. The first order of business was hiring someone to serve as Kelly’s lead man on personnel.

Kelly will make the big decisions: who to draft, which free agents to go after, which current Eagles to bring back. What he needed was someone to gather and organize all the relevant information and present it in a way Kelly could quickly process and interpret.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesChip Kelly will handle all the important duties of a general manager for the Philadelphia Eagles, and the team has promoted Ed Marynowitz, 30, to serve as Kelly's lead man on personnel decisions.
If Kelly had full control of what to eat for dinner, his new hire had to write the menu every night.

By promoting Ed Marynowitz, who was already working for the team, Kelly minimized some of the risks. A more experienced executive from another team might take a while to get in line with Kelly’s vision for team-building. That can lead to misunderstandings and disagreements, which are always dangerous in such volatile relationships.

On the other hand, Kelly has been in the NFL for all of two years. Last year, he told draft-day stories about himself, making light of his own unfamiliarity with the process. Kelly said he suggested drafting Oregon defensive end Taylor Hart in the third round. Roseman, more familiar with the draft’s inner workings, assured the coach that Hart would be there in the fifth round.

He was. The Eagles took him. Hart was inactive for all 16 games of the 2014 season. He didn’t look like much of a fifth-round pick. He would have been a disastrous third-round selection.

Can Marynowitz fill that role? He has been in the NFL for all of three seasons. At 30, he is young enough to be Kelly’s son. Will he be able to tell the coach he’s about to make a mistake? Will Kelly listen? It is worrisome that the guy who did that last year was no longer able to work with Kelly.

The Eagles went through all of this back in 2001. Tom Modrak was the director of football operations when the team hired Andy Reid as head coach in 1999. After a couple years, Reid sought control of the player personnel decisions. Modrak had a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave the team for another job. As a tradeoff, the Eagles were also allowed to dismiss Modrak during the same window.

The Eagles used that option to let Modrak go. They gave Reid full control of the football operation. Sound familiar? Reid hired 33-year-old Tom Heckert to be his top personnel advisor.

The arrangement worked pretty well for a while. With Reid and Heckert collaborating, the Eagles went the NFC Championship Game after the next four seasons. They got to the Super Bowl after the 2004 season.

It worked because Reid trusted Heckert and listened to him. Reid made the final decisions, but he also knew what he didn’t know. Heckert did the groundwork and Reid relied on that to make his decisions.

That explains the quote from Marynowitz that was included in the Eagles’ news release about the move.

"We intend to build a collaborative and competitive work environment with our coaches, one built upon trust and respect with a focus on winning," Marynowitz said. "Our goal as a personnel department will be to develop a detailed process to maximize each segment of the scouting calendar in order to support and execute Chip’s vision."

That is the objective. Marynowitz understands his part in the process. But nothing he does will matter much if Kelly doesn’t trust him and utilize him properly.

Kelly wanted the responsibility of running the football side of the Eagles organization. He has it. Only he can make it work.
When Connor Barwin tackled Darren Sproles, the Philadelphia Eagles faced a Pro Bowl conundrum they hadn’t had to worry about before.

The last time the Eagles had a defensive player in the Pro Bowl was three years ago. Defensive end Jason Babin was selected for his performance in the 2011 season. Running back LeSean McCoy and left tackle Jason Peters were also in that game, but they were all on the NFC team. There was no risk of Babin tackling McCoy, or of Peters taking Babin down with a block.

Last year, in the first Pro Bowl with a player draft to select teams, the Eagles had five representatives. But all five were offensive players, so there was no risk of one Eagle injuring another. Quarterback Nick Foles was selected offensive MVP of last year’s game.

No harm was done in Sunday night’s game. Barwin did have to tackle Sproles a couple times, but it was uneventful. Barwin even helped his Eagles teammate get back up.

Sproles was playing in his first Pro Bowl after 10 years in the NFL. He was selected as a punt returner, but also saw plenty of action at running back. Sproles caught six passes for 79 yards and carried the ball three times for 42 yards. Sproles broke off a 30-yard run in the fourth quarter to set up Matt Ryan's 1-yard pass to Jimmy Graham for the go-ahead touchdown.

Barwin also played a fair amount. So did guard Evan Mathis and center Jason Kelce. Jon Dorenbos was the long snapper for Team Irvin, the same squad as Sproles. As long snapper, Dorenbos managed to snap a lot of in-game selfies, if his Twitter profile is any measure.

Eagles rookie kicker Cody Parkey made the two extra points he attempted. Parkey was kicking through narrower goal posts. The Team Irvin kicker, Adam Vinatieri, missed an extra-point attempt.

There was less intrigue for Eagles fans without a quarterback in the game. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy both withdrew from the game, as well, leaving Sproles as the only Eagles player to touch the ball.

 
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles' recent front-office restructuring will have many ramifications, some of which will trickle down to the players.

In the standard coach/general manager situation, players develop loyalty to their coaches. The GM can play the role of bad cop, delivering news about contracts or transactions while shielding the coach from direct participation. Plenty of coaches have released players while letting the GM take the blame.

Now that Chip Kelly has full control of all personnel decisions, that dynamic changes with the Eagles. For a couple of players who spoke with CSN Philly at the Pro Bowl this week, there haven’t been any major changes yet.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
AP Photo/Matt RourkeEagles players expect little to change now that coach Chip Kelly has officially been given full control of all personnel decisions.
"Well, I always kind of thought he ran the show, and I guess that was just a confirmation of what’s going on," linebacker Connor Barwin told CSN Philly. "To me, it makes sense when the coach is picking his players, because he’s the coach, you know what I mean? So I’m happy about it. I think it’s going to work out. Work out good.

"But the players don’t pay much attention to what goes on outside of what we can control, and that stuff -- we can’t control that stuff."

"Obviously, we all have a tremendous amount of trust in what Chip is doing and the way this organization is headed," center Jason Kelce told the station. "Anytime he’s given more control, then that’s just the organization showing faith in him and reaffirms it with us."

Kelce signed a new contract last year that takes him through 2020. Barwin signed as a free agent two years ago. His deal has four more seasons left on it. Both are at the Pro Bowl. So Kelce and Barwin are about as secure as any player on the Eagles.

It gets more problematic with players like Trent Cole, Barwin’s fellow outside linebacker. Cole is 32 and his salary-cap number will almost double this year to $11.65 million. He is a candidate for a contract restructuring, or for outright release.

That decision would be made by the coaches in concert with the GM, but typically, the GM would handle the financial aspects. Because coaches are the ones who are asking players to sacrifice, to play hurt, to change positions, they need to be shielded from the consequences of financially necessary decisions.

Howie Roseman, the former GM, is still in charge of contracts and the salary cap. But owner Jeff Lurie made it clear to everyone that Kelly will now have the final word on all roster decisions. So far, that hasn’t led to any conflicts.

"We do things a different way than most NFL teams do them," Kelce told CSN Philly. "He has a clear, direct vision. A clear direct idea of what he wants to get done. That’s not saying anything with anybody else in the organization. That’s the way he’s done it. He did it at Oregon and he wants to do it here."

At Oregon, of course, players don’t have contracts. They also play for three or four years and then graduate. Nobody turns 33 with a big salary-cap number.

It is not impossible to make all this work. Andy Reid had this kind of control of the roster for many years. He had team president Joe Banner to play the bad cop during most of those years. Roseman might still be able to play that role for Kelly, although his motivation might not be all that high after being nudged aside.
PHILADELPHIA – It is depressingly clear that Jordan Matthews did more than catch 67 passes for 872 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014. The Eagles’ rookie wide receiver singlehandedly saved the team’s entire draft class from abject failure.

Matthews
Back in May, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Eagles’ draft a B-plus. Largely, that’s because he really liked Matthews, but also because he saw the logic in a first-round reach for a guy who could get to the quarterback.

That guy was Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith, whose ability to get to the quarterback remains purely theoretical. Smith barely played during his rookie season. He not only didn’t sack a single quarterback, he didn’t make a single tackle of any kind on defense or on special teams.

That explains the drop in the Eagles’ grade when Kiper regraded every team’s 2014 draft. But I found it more interesting that Kiper brought up the deeply flawed logic that the Smith and Matthews picks should be viewed as some kind of combo platter.

The logic goes something like this. If the Eagles had taken Matthews with the 26th pick of the draft and then selected Smith in the second round, it wouldn’t look nearly as bad. The reason that logic is deeply flawed is that it doesn’t really add up.

The part about Matthews being a good pick at 26? Well, no. He was, in fact, available with the 42nd pick of the draft. Taking him at No. 26 would have been, by definition, a serious mistake. The fact that Matthews was a very good pick at 42 doesn’t change the fact that Smith was a serious mistake at 26.

That doesn’t mean Smith has no chance to develop into a good NFL player. He does, although the indicators are not pointing in that direction. The Eagles’ explanation for taking Smith – that an edge rusher is such a need that it made sense to take him a little higher than strictly necessary – went out the window the moment the Eagles moved him to inside linebacker. From then on, he was no longer an edge rusher. He was just a backup inside linebacker who couldn’t get on the field.

We’ve discussed this before here. There were a bunch of quality defensive backs available when the Eagles’ original No. 22 pick came around. If the Eagles had selected cornerback Darqueze Dennard, cornerback Jason Verrett, safety Deone Bucannon or cornerback Bradley Roby, they would have gotten more production than they got from Smith in 2014.

But more importantly, they would have one fewer hole to fill in this year’s draft. They would be one step closer to fixing their secondary problems.

Or what if the Eagles had drafted Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr? They would have a young quarterback who would have started half the season after Nick Foles broke his collarbone. That quarterback would be ready to compete with Foles for the No. 1 job in training camp. He might not have as high an upside as Marcus Mariota, but he would give the Eagles a promising option at the most important position in the game.

The bottom line is there are several ways the Eagles could have gone that would have put them in a better position than they are in now. Smith could still turn out to be a good player, but the Eagles clearly made a draft-day mistake when they selected him at No. 26.
PHILADELPHIA -- It may be no more than a footnote on Chip Kelly’s tenure as Philadelphia Eagles head coach. Or it may turn out that Kelly’s approach to the quarterback position is the fatal flaw that will prevent him from ever getting to a championship.

The stories out of Mobile, Alabama, on Thursday were interesting enough. Bryan Bennett, a Kelly recruit who lost a quarterback competition to Marcus Mariota, was added to the Senior Bowl roster. Bennett transferred from Oregon to Southeast Louisiana in order to play. In Mobile, he became another of the quarterbacks who could be available to the Eagles in a later round.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesChip Kelly, left, has yet to spend a top draft pick on a quarterback.
Not Mariota, in other words.

While it may be difficult or even impossible for Kelly to land Mariota, it would be better to feel like he was trying than simply accepting the hand he is dealt. So far, that has been the constant with Kelly. He took the quarterbacks available when he arrived in Philadelphia and began working with them. In other situations, you will see new head coaches make getting a quarterback their No. 1 priority.

Andy Reid obviously did that by drafting Donovan McNabb with the second pick in the 1999 draft. Reid’s predecessor, Ray Rhodes, pushed for the Eagles to acquire Green Bay backup Mark Brunell in a trade. There were talks -- the Eagles thought they had an agreement -- but the Packers wound up sending Brunell to Jacksonville. Rhodes never really recovered, getting a couple good seasons out of Rodney Peete before the lack of a franchise quarterback caught up to him.

Kelly, eager to win as many games as possible right away, tailored his offense for Michael Vick in 2013. When Vick got hurt, Kelly plugged Nick Foles in and adjusted his approach accordingly.

Kelly did draft a quarterback in his first season. But he waited until the fourth round to get USC's Matt Barkley. Last year, the Eagles signed Mark Sanchez after the former New York Jets starter became available.

The Eagles have won 10 games in each of Kelly’s first two seasons. That is impressive. But it could also turn out to be Kelly’s ceiling with his best-quarterback-in-the-meeting-room approach. For the Eagles to take a step toward the NFL elite, the suspicion remains that they will need to identify and obtain a superior quarterback.

Mariota, the Heisman-winning quarterback from Oregon, has been the easy, obvious candidate in the public discussion about the issue. Here’s a mobile quarterback who rose to national prominence running Kelly’s offense. He has already demonstrated the skill set required to get the most out of Kelly’s system.

That doesn’t mean Kelly has to have Mariota to be successful. He could run his offense with Jameis Winston or, if trading up to the top of the draft proves impossible, with UCLA’s Brett Hundley or Baylor’s Bryce Petty. Yes, he could even run his offense with Bennett.

Going into his third season is not the optimum time for Kelly to start seeking his quarterback. But it is better than his fourth or fifth season. By then, it will likely be too late.

Pro Bowl draft slow for 6 Eagles

January, 21, 2015
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PHILADELPHIA -- Some of the Pro Bowl sizzle was lost for Eagles fans when LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin withdrew from the game.

The Pro Bowl draft, which was conducted on the NFL Network Wednesday night, tends to shine a spotlight on skill position stars. The Eagles have six representatives in this year's Pro Bowl, but four of them were assigned to a team before the draft even began. A fifth, long snapper Jon Dorenbos, was assigned rather than drafted.

That left linebacker Connor Barwin, who was selected by Cris Carter's team after a more than 90-minute wait. Barwin, like many of the selections, benefited from a little nepotism. One of Carter's captains was Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Barwin and Watt were teammates before Barwin came to Philadelphia as a free agent in 2013.

Barwin will join three of the Eagles who were assigned to Team Carter before the draft. Guard Evan Mathis and center Jason Kelce will block protect Carter's No. 1 pick, quarterback Andrew Luck. Eagles rookie kicker Cody Parkey was also assigned to Team Carter.

Only two Eagles, Dorenbos and punt returner Darren Sproles, will play for Michael Irvin's team. That's fitting, since the former Dallas Cowboys star was especially guilty of nepotism. Irvin drafted Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo first and later took two tight ends back to back. One was Saints star Jimmy Graham, who played at the University of Miami like Irvin. The other was Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.

Last year, McCoy was among the first players drafted. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson went later. Quarterback Nick Foles was selected with the next-to-last pick in the draft, but he was named offensive MVP of the Pro Bowl.
PHILADELPHIA – Marcus Mariota speculation continues to swirl around Chip Kelly and the Eagles. One report, by NJ.com, said the Eagles are putting together a plan to try to trade up in the draft for a shot at Mariota.

Meanwhile, a new mock draft on NFL.com suggests that won’t be necessary. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks’ mock draft has Mariota falling all the way to No. 18, where the Kansas City Chiefs pick.

The NJ.com report prompted reactions from the NFL Nation reporters covering the teams with the first two picks in this year’s draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the No. 1 pick. The Tennessee Titans draft second. Both could use a franchise quarterback. Either could decide that Mariota and Jameis Winston aren’t that guy and sell their pick to the highest bidder.

Pat Yasinskas, who covers the Buccaneers, had this to say:
“The best thing the Bucs can do right now is to put out as many smoke signals as possible indicating that they want Mariota. There already are rumblings the Bucs prefer Florida State’s Jameis Winston over Mariota, but that perception can be changed with a few well-placed rumors that Mariota is in the mix at No. 1.

“The Eagles might be thinking they don’t have to trade all the way to No. 1. But if Philadelphia thinks the Bucs are serious about Mariota, the Eagles might have to think about making a deal with the Bucs.

“That could provide a nice windfall for Tampa Bay. Based on recent history, the price tag for the No. 1 pick should be something like three first-round picks.”

Paul Kuharsky, who covers the Titans, wrote this:
“The package the Eagles would have to put together to get the Titans pick would be enormous, with implications into 2016 and probably 2017. It’s hard to imagine Kelly, no matter the degree of his affection for Mariota, would or could make the move if the quarterback is available second on April 30.”

Kuharsky used the “Jimmy Johnson value chart” to demonstrate how tough it would for the Eagles to move from the 20th pick to the second. The value of all the Eagles’ picks in this draft would come up 1,097 points short of the value of the No. 2 pick.

That would not be a problem if Mariota drops in the first round. The Eagles could easily move up from 20 to 18, or from 20 up to 15 or even 12.

Brooks has former Eagles coach Andy Reid selecting Mariota at 18. “Given Andy Reid’s reputation for developing quarterbacks,” Brooks wrote, “Kansas City would be the ideal spot for Mariota to grow into a franchise player.”

That’s one point of view. Reid certainly did a good job of developing Donovan McNabb back at the turn of the century. But it’s hard to see any spot as more “ideal” for Mariota than Philadelphia. Kelly coached Mariota for two years at Oregon, and Mariota has already thrived in Kelly’s offense.

That connection is the reason for all the Mariota speculation. This was only the latest round. Between now and April 30, there is bound to be plenty more.
PHILADELPHIA – Maybe the Philadelphia Eagles will be better off for not having their yet-to-be-hired top personnel man in place for the Senior Bowl.

Matthews
Smith
Last year, the Eagles’ top two draft picks played in the Senior Bowl. Linebacker Marcus Smith, the team’s first-round pick, was dressed for eight games and didn’t record a single tackle. If the Eagles hadn’t seen Smith early in the process, maybe they wouldn’t have gotten locked onto him.

Second-round pick Jordan Matthews had a much better rookie season, catching 67 passes for 872 yards and eight touchdowns.

Eagles kicker Cody Parkey also played in the Senior Bowl last year. Parkey signed with the Indianapolis Colts after the draft. The Eagles acquired Parkey in a trade. In exchange, they sent the Colts running back David Fluellen, an undrafted rookie who also played in the Senior Bowl.

In 2013, Eagles first-round pick Lane Johnson was a Senior Bowl choice. So was cornerback Jordan Poyer. The team’s other notable draft picks, including tight end Zach Ertz and defensive tackle Bennie Logan, were not involved in the Senior Bowl.

The Eagles met with mostly defensive players on Tuesday, according to reports.

Head coach Chip Kelly was asked about the process of hiring a new personnel man. The job opened three weeks ago, when the Eagles fired vice president of personnel Tom Gamble, then removed general manager Howie Roseman from personnel decisions. Kelly was given full control of all roster moves and was charged with hiring a new personnel executive.

Kelly told reporters a hire would be made “when we find the right guy.” He didn’t take any further questions.
PHILADELPHIA -- We don’t hear much from Chip Kelly during the offseason. So, we have to watch and see what the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach does in order to get a feel for his thinking.

So far, it seems clear that Kelly’s first offseason priority is to fix the Eagles’ secondary. That’s not all that surprising. The Eagles gave up the second-most passing yards in the NFL in 2014. They gave up the most pass plays longer than 40 yards and were one of five teams to give up 30 or more touchdown passes.

On Monday, the team announced a change in its coaching staff. Defensive backs coach John Lovett was moved over to the scouting staff. Former Denver Broncos assistant Cory Undlin was hired to coach the Eagles’ secondary.

On Tuesday, it became apparent that Undlin will have some fresh young talent to work with. On the first day of practices for the Senior Bowl, it was reported by Jimmy Kempski of phillyvoice.com that the Eagles had meetings scheduled with two prospects. They are Utah cornerback Eric Rowe and Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond.

Rowe is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds and also plays some safety. Drummond measured 6-1, 201 pounds at Tuesday’s Senior Bowl weigh-in. Both have the size that Kelly favors in his defensive backs.

That doesn’t make it a lock that the Eagles will draft either player. In the rankings compiled by ESPN draftniks Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, neither player is in the first-round picture. Many of the defensive backs who are, such as Michigan State’s Trae Waynes and Washington’s Marcus Peters, are underclassmen and were not invited to the Senior Bowl.

It is significant that the Eagles are immediately focusing on such a glaring position of need. Starting cornerback Bradley Fletcher and safety Nate Allen are both scheduled to become free agents in March. Cary Williams, the other starting cornerback, has a salary-cap hit of $8.16 million for 2015. That could make him a candidate for a contract restructuring or for outright release.

The Eagles have limited options elsewhere on their roster. Nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin is undersized and the coaches have been reluctant to expose him on the outside. Nolan Carroll started the last game of the season in place of Fletcher and struggled badly against the New York Giants. Rookie Jaylen Watkins did not get much playing time.

If any of those three were clearly better than Fletcher or Williams, it’s hard to believe the coaches would choose not to play them.
PHILADELPHIA – If Nick Foles is right, he will be the Eagles’ starting quarterback in 2015. That means that Foles will have his fourth quarterbacks coach in his four seasons in the NFL.

Bill Musgrave, who coached Eagles quarterbacks in 2014, is leaving to become offensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders. Musgrave replaced Bill Lazor, who left last January to become offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins. In 2012, Foles’ rookie season, the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach was Doug Pederson. Pederson followed Andy Reid to Kansas City, where he is now Reid’s offensive coordinator.

Foles
Of the three position coaches he has had, Foles had the most success under Lazor. In Chip Kelly’s first season as Eagles head coach, Foles completed 203 of 317 passes (64 percent) for 2,891 yards and 27 touchdowns. Foles threw just two interceptions all season.

With Musgrave learning Kelly’s system as he worked with the quarterbacks, Foles had a decidedly more ordinary season in 2014. Foles completed 186 of 311 passes (59.8 percent) for 2,163 yards and 13 touchdowns. Foles threw 10 interceptions in his seven starts before breaking his collarbone.

Those numbers were more like 2012, under Pederson, when Foles completed 161 of 265 passes (60.8 percent) for 1,699 yards and six touchdowns. Foles threw five interceptions in seven games as a rookie.

Based on the stats, the easy conclusion is that Lazor was the best fit as Foles’ position coach. But there were other variables at work, too.

In 2012, the Eagles’ offensive line was a mess due to injuries. Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters missed the entire season after tearing his Achilles tendon. Center Jason Kelce tore his ACL in the second game of the season. Left guard Evan Mathis was the only lineman to start all 16 games.

In 2013, Foles’ best season, all five starting offensive linemen played all 16 games. In 2014, disorder was again the order of the day. Right tackle Lane Johnson was suspended for the first four games of the season. Mathis and Kelce were injured early. Right guard Todd Herremans tore his biceps midway through the season.

For the Eagles’ game in San Francisco, Foles played behind a starting offensive line that included David Molk at center, Dennis Kelly at right guard, Matt Tobin at left guard and Herremans at right tackle.

It is reasonable to conclude the line issues had more to do with Foles’ performance than Musgrave’s coaching. That said, Foles reportedly butted heads with Lazor in 2013. It might be that Lazor’s intense style got the most out of Foles, while Musgrave’s more relaxed approach didn’t have the same results. Foles had nothing but good things to say about Musgrave during the season.

Regardless, Kelly has an opportunity now to find a quarterbacks coach who can communicate well with Foles while still pushing him to be at his best. That is, of course, assuming Foles was right about being the Eagles’ quarterback next season.
PHILADELPHIA -- The NFL announces Pro Bowl selections during the last week of the regular season, more than a month before the game is actually played. That leaves one regular-season game and three rounds of playoffs for players to get injured or decide for other reasons not to play.

Maybe the league should consider waiting until the week of the Pro Bowl itself to announce who is playing.

Maclin
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who was added to the Pro Bowl roster Friday, will not play after all. Maclin notified the NFL he will not participate due to personal reasons. It's possible that Maclin, who will become a free agent on March 10, simply doesn’t want to risk injury. Maclin has torn the ACL in both knees.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy formally withdrew Monday. McCoy injured his knee in the Eagles’ season-ending game against the New York Giants. While the injury was described as not serious by Eagles coach Chip Kelly, it was enough to keep McCoy from playing in his third Pro Bowl.

McCoy was one of five Eagles announced as Pro Bowl participants on Dec. 23. The others were left tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce, running back/return man Darren Sproles and outside linebacker Connor Barwin.

Peters also will not play in the Pro Bowl, scheduled for next Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Peters will be replaced by Houston Texans tackle Duane Brown. Detroit wide receiver Golden Tate will replace Maclin, while McCoy’s spot will go to Washington’s Alfred Morris.

Eagles left guard Evan Mathis and long snapper Jon Dorenbos were added to the roster last week. Kicker Cody Parkey is expected to replace New England’s Stephen Gostkowski, who will be busy preparing for the Super Bowl.

For the second year, the two Pro Bowl teams will be selected from a single pool of players. This year, the captains are Cris Carter and Michael Irvin. The teams will be selected Wednesday. They will practice Thursday and Friday in preparation for Sunday’s game.

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