Chip Kelly acts quickly and decisively, confident in his football intelligence. There were many fascinating twists last week in Kelly’s first draft, but none overshadowed the simple impression that Kelly represents a major upgrade over the slow-minded era of Andy Reid.
The Eagles picked up a versatile offensive tackle (Lane Johnson), a sure-handed tight end (Zach Ertz) and a promising young quarterback (Matt Barkley) among a small army of smart, committed, athletic new recruits. Whether they meet expectations will require years to determine, but it’s obvious these aren’t the same, old Eagles.
First of all, the face of the draft wasn’t GM Howie Roseman, whose gushing style never matched the underwhelming results. Roseman was conspicuous only by his relative absence during and after this three-day talent hunt, and we can all be grateful for that.
Secondly, Kelly’s draft plan was a far cry from the bizarre approach of Reid, who chose a volunteer firefighter (Danny Watkins) with his first-round pick two years ago and an Olympic skier (Jeremy Bloom) as a kick returner before that. Reid bumbled annually by trading up and down, with no logic behind his moves. Kelly simply executed a meticulous plan.
And, for the first time in 14 years, Eagles fans got treated with the respect they deserve. Kelly didn’t say Johnson was the top pick on his draft board; the coach merely said the young lineman was in his top five. He didn’t deny that his top choice was his own defensive end at Oregon, Dion Jordan.
When the new coach wasn’t offering honesty, he was providing real hope, especially in his startling trade up to acquire Barkley. In one move, Kelly proved that he really doesn’t require a running quarterback and that he can score a coup over his counterparts before his first NFL game.
More significant than any one selection, though, is the efficient way the Eagles presented themselves throughout the draft process. There will never be a time under Kelly when it takes 30 seconds to get a play in, the way it did with Reid in the final minutes of the Super Bowl. Kelly doesn’t just speak more quickly; he thinks more quickly, too.
Chip Kelly may not win as many games as Andy Reid did in Philadelphia, but the new coach has already established that it’s going to be a lot more fun — and a lot less frustrating — rooting for the Eagles.
Pitching coach deserves our venom
Rich Dubee took a few precious minutes away from mismanaging the Phillies’ pitching staff last week to make a complete fool of himself. When Charlie Manuel is fired —hopefully, soon — it will be a joy to see this obnoxious ingrate go with him.
In the best of times, Dubee has been a fowl wind at Citizens Bank Park, providing a steady flow of misinformation about his pitching staff in an off-putting style. A baseball vagabond before arriving here, Dubee has avoided criticism both because his team won a World Series in 2008 and because Manuel has always been there to absorb the venom.
Last week, the moratorium on ripping Dubee abruptly ended when he refused to discuss the rejuvenation of Roy Halladay. Rather than explain what had changed Halladay’s fortunes, Dubee sneered at the “roller coaster” of opinions presented by the media and waved off all requests to explain the most interesting story of this otherwise disappointing April.
Dubee is an inept pitching coach, getting worse all the time. He has misused the back end of his bullpen all month, consistently opting for unproven relievers like Jeremy Horst and Phillippe Aumont in critical situations while under-using the best arm out there, Jonathan Papelbon. Meanwhile, there is no logical explanation for how Dubee has employed set-up man Mike Adams. None.
Since Dubee doesn’t have enough respect for the fans to answer simple questions about Roy Halladay, we are left to draw our own conclusion: The proud pitcher figured it out with no help from his miserable coach, Rich Dubee.
Flyers are definition of insanity
After missing the playoffs for the second time in 18 years, the Flyers have come up with a thrilling plan to reverse their fortunes next season. They are going to bring back all of the people responsible for this horrible failure. Not one member of their brain trust will be leaving as a result of this debacle. And fans still wonder why this franchise hasn’t won a championship in 38 years?
Chairman Ed Snider will be back, of course. He has been here from the start, offering the same blind loyalty to executives and players who have failed him for close to four decades. One of his favorites, GM Paul Holmgren, will return for an eighth season of fruitless transactions and public lies. Coach Peter Laviolette, who repeatedly failed to motivate his team this season, will provide even less inspiration in 2013-14, his fourth year here.
And so it goes. The Flyers have become a living symbol of sports insanity, as the organization keeps doing the same dumb things, year after year, expecting a different result. Snider has escaped the intense scrutiny of other Philadelphia owners because he did win two Stanley Cups and because he has never hesitated to spend money to improve the team. But when Is enough enough?
The one change the Flyers probably will make is to pay off colossal bust Ilya Byrzgalov and exercise one of their amnesty exemptions to remove him from the roster and the salary cap. If there was still any doubt that the Russian goalie doesn’t fit in, he removed it last week when he called his last victory “pointless” because the Flyers had already been eliminated from playoff contention. There is no place on the Flyers for that kind of public honesty.
After the final game, Holmgren put the entire mess into perspective when he snapped at reporters who kept asking if Laviolette would be returning next season.
“How many times are you going to ask me?”
Uh, until the answer makes some sense.
Idle thoughts from Cataldi
» Leonard Weaver retired as an Eagle last week after a career spanning 17 games here. Honorable people like Weaver want to experience some closure to their careers, but a tradition like this loses its meaning when no one even remembers that the player was on the team.
» The Flyers ended the season with four straight wins, and six out of seven. In other words, they realized their potential as soon as they were eliminated from the playoffs. There’s a term for this kind of team: Gutless.
» The Phillies finally showed some life over the weekend by sweeping the Mets. The big question now is, can they score runs like that against a major-league pitching staff?
» ESPN moved the time of the Phanatic’s birthday promotion on April 21 from 1:30 to 8 p.m., ruining the event for thousands of young Phillies fans. There’s only one conclusion to draw from that heartless decision: ESPN doesn’t care about kids.
» Donovan McNabb did a media tour last week as spokesman for a honey liqueur (no joke), held a kickball game in Times Square and whined during a dinner with NFL prospect E.J. Manuel about getting booed at the draft. Don’t you feel silly now thinking the guy had no future after football?