The running joke during Andy Reid's tenure as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles was that he was always picking up players from his alma mater, BYU. "Best available Mormon."
Well now that Chip Kelly is the head coach of the Eagles, that refrain has turned into "Best Available Duck", for his former Oregon players. (For those of you paying attention, that acronym spells B.A.D. Just sayin')
It wasn't so bad when Kelly reached a little too early in the draft for a receiver like Josh Huff or defensive end, like Taylor Hart, both from Oregon. It wasn't the end of the world that he would bring in other Ducks like backup running back Kenjon Barner, or even keep linebacker Casey Matthews on the roster. But now Chipper has gone off the deep end and I fear that it will destroy this current Eagles team.
Multiple reports have come out with the news that the Eagles have traded LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills. And by the Eagles, I mean Chip Kelly. After his very public spat with former general manager Howie Roseman, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie gave full control over player personnel to Kelly to prevent him from taking his ball and running back to the college ranks. Now I wish he had gone.
I don't know what I hate more about Kelly trading McCoy. The fact that he traded the best player on the roster, or the fact that he did it so he could get yet another former Oregon Duck in return. Linebacker Kiko Alonso is a good young player, but McCoy is among the elite players in the NFL. This was just plain stupid. But at least Kelly now has eight former Ducks on his roster.
McCoy led the NFL in rushing yards (1,607) and yards from scrimmage (2,146) in 2013. Then last season, behind an offensive line decimated by injuries, he still finished 3rd in the NFL in rushing with 1,319 yards. In short, he was the player that other teams had to game-plan to stop. He was and still is that good.
So why did Kelly trade McCoy? Maybe it was the money. McCoy is signed through 2017 and is due a $9.75 base salary in 2015 with an $11.95 million cap hit. But he also said he would be willing to renegotiate his deal if the Eagles needed more money this offseason. He didn't say he would take a pay cut, though. Apparently, that's what Kelly wanted. Or maybe it was a personality conflict, like Kelly had with DeSean Jackson. McCoy didn't hide his displeasure when Kelly cut Jackson and he has been outspoken about feeling more comfortable getting the hand-off from a quarterback under center to give him a running start. Kelly's offense is almost exclusively out of the shotgun.
Kelly preaches culture over talent and it's entirely possible McCoy didn't drink the Chipper Kool-Aid. We'll find out quickly enough, as the lap-dogs in the local media will be getting out whatever story the Eagles ask them to push as part of their propaganda.
I fully admit that the NFL is a quarterback-driven league, but the Eagles under Chip Kelly are a running football team. With everyone healthy, the Eagles led the NFL in rushing in 2013. And even with all the injuries along the offensive line and the fact that rag-armed Mark Sanchez started eight games, the Eagles still finished a respectable 9th in rushing last season. That had everything to do with McCoy.
McCoy has been compared to the great Barry Sanders, with his ability to cut back. McCoy is only 27 and has rushed 1,461 times for a franchise record 6,792 yards, along with 44 touchdowns. He has also caught 300 passes for 2,282 yards and 10 TDs during his six year career.
That is the level of talent Kelly is trading so he can be reunited with another one of his former Ducks.
Linebacker Kiko Alonso, 25 in August, looked impressive during his rookie season in 2013, when he appeared in 16 games and recorded a team-high 159 tackles with two sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and four interceptions. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2014 season after suffering a torn ACL. Yes, you read that right. Chip Kelly traded the best player on his roster, the best running back in franchise history, the guy his entire offense runs through, for a guy coming off a major injury after only one season in the NFL.
You'll excuse me if I think Kelly has lost his mind. Or maybe he was never really that bright to begin with.
This is simply ridiculous. McCoy made the Eagles offense go. He was their biggest weapon and Kelly likes to run the football. Now the Eagles top running options are 31 year-old Darren Sproles and unproven guys like Chris Polk and Matthew Tucker. Nobody is going to respect the Eagles' running game and it's going to get Nick Foles killed.
Of course, I will admit that running backs have a very short shelf life in the NFL and McCoy will be entering his seventh season with a huge price tag. And with DeMeco Ryans coming off his second Achilles injury at the age of 30, the Eagles did need to add some talent to the LB corps. This trade likely ends Ryans career as an Eagle. But I would have preferred that they add an outside LB, since they won't be re-signing Brandon Graham and are reportedly about to cut Trent Cole. Plus, they need to replace three-fourths of their secondary after they just cut CB Cary Williams today. The last thing the Eagles needed to do was replace the best player on their entire roster.
It gets even scarier if you consider the fact that the Eagles didn't use the Franchise tag on receiver Jeremy Maclin and he is set to become a free agent. If they don't keep Maclin, the Eagles could go from having one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL, to having one of the worst.
Sproles isn't a starter. Polk and Tucker are completely untested. The offensive line is getting older and they just release RG Todd Herremans. Foles set the NFL on fire when he had a stable offensive line in front of him and teams were worried about stopping McCoy. The Eagles can't lose DeSean Jackson one year and then McCoy and Maclin the next. Even Chip Kelly isn't a big enough egomaniac to think his offense can function effectively with Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff at receiver is he? Oh wait; they still have former Duck, Jeff Maehl too. Never mind, the Eagles receivers are beyond compare.
The Eagles won 10 games last year because their offense carried a horrible defense. Yes, they needed to upgrade the defense, but doing that by trading LeSean McCoy was not the way to do it.
I already detailed why trading up for Marcus Mariota (say it with me...."Best Available Duck") is a terrible idea, but maybe this is just step one in that process. Maybe Kelly knows that his offense will be average at best without McCoy and will mortgage the franchise to acquire a mobile QB like Mariota, since any Eagles QB will be running for his life all next season. Hey, you can't have double digit former Ducks on your roster if you don't get the ninth one first, right?
We haven't even gotten to free agency or the draft, but trading McCoy is going to be crippling for the franchise. You can't trade your best player and get better. You just can't.
It doesn't even matter if Alonso is good, or even great. This was a horrible trade by someone who obviously is in over his head as a talent evaluator in the NFL. Ultimately, I think we will look back on this trade as the first domino to fall that led Chip Kelly back to the college ranks. And Eagles fans will be left to deal with the ashes that he leaves behind after burning the franchise to the ground.