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Redskins interested spectators as Chip Kelly reshapes his Eagles

Mar 4, 2015, 9:56 AM EDT

mccoy-jumping

The Eagles started making news on Tuesday afternoon when word got out that they were going to part ways with cornerback Cary Williams and pass rushers Trent Cole and Brandon Graham. While Philly fans and media were working on figuring out how these starters would be replaced with no obvious candidates to step in on the roster, the bombshell hit.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the Eagles and Bills had agreed on a trade that would send linebacker Kiko Alonso to Buffalo in exchange for LeSean McCoy. Chip Kelly, who was give full control of player personnel in January, had traded away arguably his team’s best player for a linebacker who had a very good rookie season but missed 2014 with a torn ACL.

It is clear that Kelly is not afraid to use his newly acquired personnel power. Cole and Todd Herremans were the two longest-tenured Eagles, both drafted by the team in 2005. McCoy, who will be 27 before the season starts, came aboard in the 2009 draft. Graham was the Eagles’ top pick in the 2010 draft. The Andy Reid era, the most successful in team history, is fast fading into the rearview mirror.

Trading McCoy saved the Eagles $8.55 million in salary cap space. Alonso may take the place of veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who may also be released to save $6.9 million. That would give Kelly nearly $60 million in cap space to work with.

But what would he do with it? The word around Philadelphia is that Kelly only wants players who buy into his system, his way of doing things. It started last year when he was the driving force behind the decision to cut DeSean Jackson a year ago. The best way do that is to build through the draft, bring players in out of college and train them the way you want them. As Scot McCloughan says, free agents come in with their own agendas. You can only vet players so much during the interview and background check process. If Kelly does it that way it will be largely a process of trail and error.

One could surmise that Kelly wants the cap space because he intends to use a good chunk of the next two drafts to move up from 20th into the top five and take Marcus Mariota in the draft. That’s possible but putting all of your eggs in the basket of a spread offense QB is risky business, as the Redskins have learned. The fact that Mariota played for Kelly at Oregon may increase the chances for success but it’s far from a guarantee.

So what does this mean for the Redskins? In the short term is means that they won’t have to face McCoy twice a year. He has 206 carries for 807 yards and five touchdowns rushing and 51 receptions for 479 yards against the Redskins. The receiving numbers are by far his best against any opponent.

But beyond that it depends largely on if Kelly, who has 20 NFL wins, none of them in the postseason, knows what he has doing. He apparently convinced Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie that he does. Now he has to show Eagles fans and the rest of the NFL that he does.

If Kelly’s way works, the Redskins could find themselves needing 11 or 12 wins year after year to contend for the NFC East title. That would make the Redskins’ rebuilding job that much tougher and increase the pressure on Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan to get big results in a hurry.

And if Kelly busts? Well, for right now it would give the Redskins some company at the bottom of the division. Beyond that, we would have to see but given their record since 2007 the Redskins have little room to revel in the difficulties of other division teams.

  1. captblood3000 - Mar 4, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    A head coach who thinks he’s a personnel genius. Where have we seen this before?

    • bangkokben - Mar 4, 2015 at 11:23 AM

      Replacing Jackson and McCoy seem to be more financial decisions than football decisions. Kelly seems to want to get ‘value’ out of those positions. And if your comparing production per $ you might say Mathews and possibly Polk are better ‘value’. Of course losing Jackson’s impact last year hurt them as will this move. There are few impact players but each ‘impact player’ also has a limited amount of impact years. Jackson and McCoy may have two more impact seasons. Kelly seems to be willing to sacrifice the short-term for the long-term jettisoning players two years before their production decline is obvious. I’m sure there are ‘skins fans that think this is brilliant. Are they players for the big free agents? Who could possibly be worth all that cap room? Will Philly start focusing on defense since Oregon Chip’s offensive system doesn’t need stars?

      • captblood3000 - Mar 4, 2015 at 4:27 PM

        Here’s the rub. Kelly wants his kind of player. Just how many of them are out there? And if he wants to get Mariotta as his quarterback, that will cost him a net of 2 or more of his kind of player.

        You only get so many chances to make the playoffs. Then the owner fires you. And in hindsight, the 2014 Eagles with DJax make the playoffs. So the clock is ticking on Kelly.

        • bangkokben - Mar 4, 2015 at 4:46 PM

          It would be nice to see the Eagles fall flat but I suspect a similar performance to 2014 will keep Kelly employed especially if he downgrades the talent or changes them to fit his unique system. it worked for Denver in the long run with Josh McDaniels getting rid of Cutler and Marshall and so far those two have as many rings as you and I. If only our team could rebound from those kind of ‘mistakes.’

        • redskinsinrichmondva - Mar 4, 2015 at 5:56 PM

          Two things:

          1. By the team strength rankings from Football Outsiders, the Eagles dropped off in 2014, but they were still among the top 6 teams in the NFC — they even moved up from 8th to 7th in the overall rankings (this is because the top end of the league also dropped off). They missed the playoffs not because they weren’t a playoff-caliber team, but because of zany NFL division winner rules; see the Carolina Panthers.

          2. The dropoff in offense had much more to do with Nick Foles playing more like an average QB than playing without DeSean Jackson. In 2013, Foles lead the league in TD% (8.5), and only had a 0.6 INT%. These were absurd numbers, even after you account for Jackson being on the roster. Given the inconsistent nature of TD% and INT% in football, Foles was bound to dropoff a bit, regardless of the WRs he was throwing to.

        • bangkokben - Mar 4, 2015 at 6:04 PM

          I could argue that Foles played more like an average QB because he did not have Jackson – or someone like him – to throw to or take the top off the defense.

        • redskinsinrichmondva - Mar 4, 2015 at 6:36 PM

          I agree that not having Jackson helped with that. But 2013 Foles’s TD% and INT% were still historic. Here’s a list of QB seasons (minimum of 300 pass attempts) since the merger that posted at least a 125 TD% index and 125 INT% index: http://pfref.com/tiny/wXLkz

          Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Young, McNabb, Jones, and Foles. That’s it. Lots of HoF QBs that were paired with HoF WRs didn’t have those numbers.

        • bangkokben - Mar 4, 2015 at 7:05 PM

          I agree that Foles had a fantastic 2013 and agree that even if DJax was in Philly last year there would’ve been some decline due to defenses having a year of film. The Eagles scored a crazy amount of TDs from special teams (4) and defense (7). In 2013 they had no return TD and only 2 on defense. They scored 43 offensived touchdowns last year compared to the 51 the previous year. Therefore it is also true that they missed Jackson – see passes over 40 yards – and will more than likely miss McCoy.

      • redskinsinrichmondva - Mar 4, 2015 at 8:47 PM

        They missed Jackson, no doubt. Foles’s season was one for the ages though, at least when you look at TD% and INT%. Cutting Jackson can’t account for that dropoff by itself, or even a majority of that dropoff. Not when Foles posted such a historically flukey season, and not when we also know that TD% and INT% can fluctuate significantly every season, even with the same talent at WR.

  2. john reid - Mar 4, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    As I said before, in 2 years they will be called the Philadelphia Ducks. Kelly only want Oregon players. The league won’t allow this style to win the Superbowl. He couldn’t do it in college, what makes u think he can in the pros with bigger and faster defensemen. It will never work. Start fast, finish slow.

    • bowlregard - Mar 4, 2015 at 11:41 AM

      They are already calling them the Ducks.

    • redskinsinrichmondva - Mar 4, 2015 at 12:44 PM

      Don’t know about a Super Bowl, but Chip Kelly coached a pass offense that was 5th in DVOA in 2013 (DVOA is a Football Outsiders pass offense metric). They were 26th in pass offense DVOA in 2012. The main personnel on offense didn’t change that much from 2012 to 2013. The Eagles still had a 15th-ranked pass offense DVOA in 2014, despite DeSean Jackson leaving the team and Mark Sanchez playing for the majority of the dropbacks!

      McCoy wasn’t a spectacular RB in 2014 (around the 60th-65th percentile rank or so in Football Outsiders’s RB DVAR). Do you think that is worth the money the Eagles would use from their cap space?

      • Rich Tandler - Mar 4, 2015 at 2:41 PM

        Can the guy coach? Sure. Can he run the football side of an NFL organization? Very much remains to be seen.

        And if you’re not pressed for cap room and you’re a playoff contender I’m not sure I trade McCoy without a replacement in house.

        • redskinsinrichmondva - Mar 4, 2015 at 3:22 PM

          That’s a good point you made about trading without an in-house replacement. I’d say that perhaps the Eagles are willing to downgrade at RB (a position that isn’t as valuable in today’s pass-happy NFL) so they can use the cap resources to bolster their pass defense or other more valuable areas of their roster. They’re already a playoff contender, but they could still improve. Out of the teams that made the playoffs in 2014, only Dallas and Pittsburgh had a more pourous pass defense (by DVOA) than Philly.

          Besides, RBs peak statstically at age 26 (http://www.footballperspective.com/a-closer-look-at-running-back-aging-patterns-part-ii/). McCoy is 26 right now. That has to also factor into this trade.

        • ajbus1 - Mar 4, 2015 at 7:15 PM

          You can dig up all the stats you want but these moves are not in the best interest of the Eagles. Stuff like this is why they had to shake up the front office personnel wise. Howie Roseman wants nothing to do with it when the ship goes down.

      • redskinsinrichmondva - Mar 4, 2015 at 9:00 PM

        “You can dig up all the stats you want but these moves are not in the best interest of the Eagles.”

        Instead of simply saying this, how about posting a counterargument with reasons or supporting evidence?

        • ajbus1 - Mar 5, 2015 at 9:33 PM

          I do appreciate that you have stuff to back up what you’re saying but this discussion about whether it was smart or not is nuts. It’s cut and dry to me and doesn’t need too much support. I do like a good discussion though so… First, it’s loony to suggest that LeSean McCoy is anything short of an excellent RB. I don’t care what any website says. He was third in the league in rushing yards last year and first the year before. Going from first to third is not a decline. Second, I understood when they moved on from Jackson but this years’ purge of talent is not going to work out in the long term. So far they have gained a LB who had a good rookie year and then tore his ACL, and some cap space. That does not replace McCoy, Trent Cole, Todd Herremans, Cary Williams, James Casey and all their own free agents. This much turnover will mean the team will need time to gel and it may never. We know this well in DC, and if the Eagles go big in free agency then they didn’t learn from their own “Dream Team” experiment a few years ago. Third, there just isn’t enough free agents out there to fill all their newly created needs. They are set to lose/cut their entire secondary other than Malcolm Jenkins. They can be one of the worst statistical secondaries in the playoffs all they want but just getting rid of everyone doesn’t mean they’ll be better. I personally believe Chip Kelly is so full of himself and the system he runs that he’s become arrogant and naive to the difficulties of the NFL.

  3. ET - Mar 4, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    While I find the McCoy trade somewhat surprising, I’m more curious about Kelly’s future defensive plans. We have a good sense of what he wants to do offensively, but Philly’s defense lacks a clear identity, IMO, much like the Haslett-era Skins D.

    What’s the end goal? How aggressive will Kelly be in free agency on the defensive side of the ball? What kind of “buy-in” is he expecting from new defensive players?

  4. bangkokben - Mar 4, 2015 at 1:41 PM

    From John Keim’s tweets from today.

    “Vikings trade QB. Will the Redskins? Haven’t heard any buzz (to this point) regarding Skins desire to trade Cousins. Coaches do like him.”

    • bangkokben - Mar 4, 2015 at 5:12 PM

      More thoughts from Keim on the QB situation:
      espn.go.com/blog/washington-redskins/post/_/id/15677/redskins-qb-thoughts-kirk-cousins-and-more

  5. Morese DeLoatch - Mar 4, 2015 at 2:34 PM

    The Skin’s doesn’t need to hit a grand slam for this season. Wow you tell people that the fans are inpatient but the Skins are a loosing franshise,so tthey’re taking a different way. Slow down. Can’t worried about Philly. At least Eagles are better than Skins now.

  6. bangkokben - Mar 4, 2015 at 4:50 PM

    The signing of Ihenacho should spur on the minions that this need is filled. It’s not but there’s a familiar name.

  7. shermanp79 - Mar 4, 2015 at 6:46 PM

    Is he a mad scientist or a scientist gone mad? Only time will tell. I said it months ago, the Eagles weren’t the same on offense last year. They haven’t had much QB pressure on defense. So now he is dumping their best players. They better hope the problem isn’t Kelly. At some point a Coach has to adapt some, it may work in College and fail in the NFL. You are not talking about High School kids who are intimidated by the HC. They instead have grown men with their own ideas. Even guys who buy in at some point get burned out with that type of personality. We saw it with Coughlin in NY, who had a mess until he adapted. He did better in JAC with a young team but that means PHI has to build for a couple years. Another Coach may end up benefiting from what he does while he ends up back in College. It happened with Harbaugh, although that had other factors involved, his personality was effecting the team.

    • goback2rfk - Mar 4, 2015 at 11:39 PM

      Chip will be out of the league in 3 years

  8. tralfaz10 - Mar 5, 2015 at 6:46 AM

    Trading LeSean McCoy was insane. Chip didn’t like his outspoken ways and he was shown the door. In the last two off-seasons, the Eagles have cut their top receiver, top running back, top pass rusher and top corner (all of those except D-Jax came in the past week). Word in the network coverage is that Chip doesn’t like his players to have a voice of their own. Most of the best players in the league are Alpha males and most Alpha males tend to be outspoken. If he wants a locker room full of timid players, I am all for it. The Philadelphia Eagles was a tough game, the Oregon East Ducks should be no problem. HTTR!

  9. abanig - Mar 5, 2015 at 4:50 PM

    Steve Spurier 2.0, it’s just unlike Spurier who had Snyder/Cerrato, the Eagles owner and front office actually understand the salary cap so it took Chip a few years to get Spurier, Gibbs & Shanahan type control of the organization but for the time being he appears to have it.

    With so much cap space, they have to spend a certain % and the last time the Eagles went on spending spree – just like the 2000 Redskins – they totally flopped the following year because some players didn’t fit their systems and their chemistry was bad.

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