It’s no secret that Chip Kelly fantasizes about reuniting with his former Oregon signal caller Marcus Mariota.
But the Heisman Trophy winner will certainly not be on the board when Kelly’s Eagles take the clock with the No. 20 pick in the 2015 NFL draft this April.
Several news outlets, including NFL.com and NJ.com have reported that the Birds will do “whatever it takes” to move up enough to get Mariota. Some sources even claim the Eagles would be willing to make multiple moves to get the quarterback.
Kelly isn’t the only one hoping for the reunion. In a recent interview, Mariotaexpressed a similar desire.
“Obviously my relationship with Coach Kelly — it’d be a lot of fun to be a part of that offense and be a part of that team,” Mariota said.
So it’s mutual. So what? The Eagles have Nick Foles, just one year removed from setting an NFLrecord for touchdown to interception ratio, among other things. Had Foles remained healthy throughout the season (he broke his collarbone in Week 9 in Houston) an argument could be made that the Birds may have made the playoffs.
It’s a fact that LeSean McCoy is adamant about.
“I like Nick,” the Pro Bowl running back told NFL All Access. “The person and player that everybody thought he was, he is. There were a lot of injuries this year, Nick, obviously got injured. He gets all of the blame and he shouldn’t. I think Nick’s a good quarterback.”
Quarterback play is not necessarily the reason the Eagles failed in 2014 either. While the Eagles did rank 21st out of 32 teams in QB rating (84.8), they ranked third in points scored through the air and sixth in total passing yards during the regular season. They even set a team record for completion percentage.
It was more the Eagles’ defense, particularly their secondary that cost them big time — falling from 9-3 to 10-6 in the season’s final four weeks.
The Eagles defensive backfield surrendered the second-most yards on defense in the NFL while allowing 18 plays of 40 or more yards, tops in the league by three.
Will Mariota really solve the Eagles’ woes? One thing is certain, even if Mariota performs as expected, or better, his cost of acquisition will hurt the Birds’ ability to draft on defense. It’s a key Kelly and the Eagles’ front office must consider before they gamble their future on a 21-year-old kid from Hawaii.