Eagles Wheeling, Dealing and Erasing the Chip Kelly Era

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Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, left and Eagles VP of Football Operations, Howie Roseman have done their share of altering the roster. Photo by Webster Riddick.

In the first week of free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles have started the process of re-making the team in the image of head coach Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman, the team’s vice president of football operations.

The high-profile guys that former head coach Chip Kelly brought in via trades and free agency last season will not be with the team in 2016, most notably running back DeMarco Murray, who was traded to the Tennessee Titans for a fourth-round draft pick.

After leading the NFL in rushing in 2014, Murray gained just 702 yards, averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and was frustrated in Kelly’s system because it didn’t utilize his strengths as a downhill runner. Even with the coaching change, Murray was still not happy and he was sent packing to play with Kelly’s former quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The Birds also acquired former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel to compete with Sam Bradford for the starter’s position.

Two more of Kelly’s acquisitions from last season were also sent packing via the trades. Linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Byron Maxwell were sent to the Miami Dolphins to clear some salary cap space and to swap places with the Dolphins in the 2016 Draft. The Eagles will now have the eighth pick instead of the 13th.

The Eagles haven’t had that high a draft pick since 2013 when they used the fourth pick to draft solid right tackle Lane Johnson.

The Eagles could use that pick on a variety of things. With Murray’s departure, they could use it to  pick a running back, possibly Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliot or Alabama’s Derrick Henry.

But the smart use for the pick would be an offensive tackle. In a draft that will be heavy on linemen on both sides of the ball, the Eagles have a couple of possibilities.  Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley (6-7, 312), Michigan State’s Jack Conklin (6-7, 315) and Ohio State’s Taylor Decker (6-7, 315) are possibilities.

With 34-year-old Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters on the downside of his career, the Eagles could cut him as soon as this year. At some point, the Birds are going to have to find a replacement for him.

“The O-line is a priority period,” Roseman said during a press conference last  week. “It’s a priority today, it’s a priority tomorrow, it’s a priority next week, it’s priority in April. Every day we’re looking for an offensive lineman. I think the good news the lines in this draft are very strong.”

The place on the offensive line where the Eagles really struggled was at the guard positions. That’s why they signed 6-5, 335-pound offensive guard and former Houston Texan Brandon Brooks.

For the past three seasons, Brooks has been the starting guard for the Texans, playing in 44 of 50 games. The Eagles singed him to a five-year, $40 million deal. Considering how badly the Eagles guards played last season, Brooks is a definite improvement and they’re going to need somebody to protect quarterback Sam Bradford.

The Eagles also bulked up their secondary by signing former Buffalo Bills cornerback Theodis McKelvin to a two-year deal. McKelvin has been in the league for nine years and has 12 career interceptions. The Birds also signed McKelvin’s teammate, former LSU star safety Ron Brooks, who’s been a backup since coming into the league in 2012.

Former St. Louis Rams safety Ron McLeod (5-10) also came to terms with the Eagles this week. A proven starter in 48 straight games, McLeod has the ability to cover receivers in the passing game as well as play the run.

In just a short period of time, Pederson and Roseman have basically disassembled everything Kelly put together.

Considering how many Eagles fans felt about the changes Kelly made during his tenure, they probably think that’s a good thing.

 

Can Doug Pederson Rescue the Eagles?

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Doug Pederson, who served as an assistant under former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, will try to put the Birds on the right track as the team’s head coach.

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

 

The Philadelphia Eagles began the transition from the Chip Kelly era to the Doug Pederson era when they introduced him as the team’s new head coach on Tuesday.
But before the ink was even allowed to dry on his contract, jaded Birds fans were looking at the new coach with a side-eye that suggested that they’d already been down this particular road.

Because Pederson’s last job was Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City, Eagles fans on social media were having flashbacks to Super Bowl XXXIX when the Birds offense moved with no urgency even though they were down 10 with about six minutes left in the game.

Those flashbacks weren’t triggered by Pederson’s presence on the podium with team Jeffrey Lurie on Tuesday, but by his last game as the Chiefs offensive coordinator, a playoff game against the New England Patriots that raised a few eyebrows with some “say-whats” and some “what the entire hells” throw in for good measure.

In the Patriots game, the Chiefs were down by two touchdowns late and got the ball back with about six minutes left in the game. Instead of acting like they were down two scores and needed to get points quickly, the Chiefs took nearly all of the 6:29 remaining to get one touchdown and lost 27-20.

When Pederson was asked about that drive, he gave an answer that probably raised even more questions.

“It took us time because number one, we did not want to give Tom Brady the ball back,” he said. “We knew we were going to score and we knew we had timeouts and the time. We were also limited with the number of receivers we had. Jeremy Maclin was out of the game.”

The Chiefs scored with just 1:13 left and three timeouts, but the onside kick failed and the Patriots ran out the clock. If the Eagles get into a clock management situation during the 2016 season and they lose, fans will revisit this. Count on it.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that Pederson did call plays in the second half of games during the Chiefs 11-game winning streak that got them into the playoffs and led quarterback Alex Smith to his best year as a pro.

Smith passed for a career-high 3,486 yards and had a career-high 498 yards running the football. He threw 20 touchdown passes and during the Chiefs 11 game-winning streak, had a run where he threw 312 passes without an interception.

During the news conference, Pederson said that he believes Eagles starting quarterback Sam Bradford, who will become a free agent in March, is a good fit for the offense he wants to run, something that probably resembles the West coast offense. Bradford passed for 3.725 yards with 19 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.

“I think Sam’s a quality quarterback. I think he’s a top notch quarterback,” Pederson said. “Look at what he did the last half of the season, the numbers he was able to put up, I feel like he’s a quarterback that would fit perfectly into the system that I’m going to bring.”

You would think Pederson as the head coach would also bode well for running back DeMarco Murray. In Kansas City, Jamaal Charles and the running game thrived under Pederson and Reid. Charles gained over thousand yards in 2013 and 2014.

Pederson said he thinks that Murray is also good fit for his offense in the way that Charles did with the Chiefs.

“I think there’s a unique style with him. When you look at his tape in Dallas, I think there’s some great opportunities with him. He’s more of a downhill guy, a physical running back,” Pederson said.