NFL Odds: Are Chip Kelly’s Moves Making Eagles a Worth Bet this Season?

Jason Lake

Friday, May 1, 2015 5:32 PM GMT

The Philadelphia Eagles have about 17 different QB's ready to try out for the starting job in 2015. Has head coach Chip Kelly lost his mind? Or are his Eagles worth adding to your NFL picks this year?

When Chip Kelly took over as head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, not everyone was impressed. Yes, people were ready to move on from Andy Reid, but was Kelly the right man for the job? Would the spread offense that brought Kelly so much success at the University of Oregon translate to the big leagues? There was enough pessimism that the Eagles were +4 road dogs on the NFL odds board in Kelly’s debut against Washington.

Why so serious? The Eagles took a 33-7 lead and held on to win 33-27. Then they won the NFC East at 10-6 (8-8 ATS). But they didn’t win in the postseason, and last year, the Eagles finished out of the playoffs despite winning another 10 games (9-7 ATS). Now the burden of expectations is on Kelly to take things to the next level. And in what’s been a wild offseason of wheeling and dealing, people are worried again. The Eagles were +2200 on the Super Bowl 50 futures market at 5Dimes heading into Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft. But is Philly a valuable NFL pick this upcoming season? 

 

St. Louis Blues
The focal point of concern, as it was when Kelly made his debut, is at quarterback. Who will be piloting the Eagles this year? In 2013, it began with Michael Vick, but Nick Foles took over the starting gig and ended up making the Pro Bowl, throwing 27 touchdown passes and just two picks. Alas, Foles regressed to the mean in 2014, and lost his starting job in turn to Mark Sanchez.

Now Foles is property of the St. Louis Rams. He was shipped out in exchange for Sam Bradford, the former No. 1 overall pick in 2010 who missed all of last year with a torn left ACL – the same injury that cut his season short in 2013. And if that weren’t controversial enough, the Eagles also signed Tim Tebow to a one-year contract. Tebow hasn’t played since failing to make the New England Patriots out of training camp two years ago.

Quarterback isn’t the only position of concern. The Eagles threw everyone for a loop in March when they traded three-time Pro Bowl RB LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for LB Kiko Alonso – a former member of the Oregon Ducks under Kelly. Like Bradford, Alonso missed the entire 2014 campaign with a torn ACL. Is Kelly nuts?

 

Unleash Tim Tebow
You have to be nuts to be an NFL head coach. But these personnel moves aren’t nearly as crazy as some people think. It’s easy to overreact when it comes to skill players, and you won’t find very many quarterbacks who have generated as much unwarranted sound and fury as Sanchez, Bradford, and especially Tebow. Sanchez (88.4 passer rating) performed reasonably well for the Eagles last year. Bradford (90.9 passer rating in 2013) was on the rise before his knee injuries; maybe he’ll recover, maybe not. And Tebow is worth a flier as a spread-offense specialist.

The running back situation doesn’t look so bad without McCoy, either. The Eagles signed DeMarco Murray (4.8 career yards per carry) to a five-year contract after he made his second Pro Bowl in four years with the Dallas Cowboys. And Ryan Mathews (4.4 yards per carry) signed a three-year deal after an injury-shortened campaign with the San Diego Chargers. Mathews had an awful 2013 season, but ever since, he’s looked a lot more like the tailback who made the Pro Bowl four years ago.

No doubt there will be a lot more consternation about Kelly’s Eagles between now and September. There could be some more personnel moves, too. As we go to press, QB Marcus Mariota, another Kelly disciple from Oregon, is still property of the Tennessee Titans after they took him second overall on Thursday. But unless Kelly tries to sign Dan Fouts to play quarterback, we trust his judgment based on his results up to this point.

Special update: The Eagles took WR Nelson Agholor from USC with the No. 20 overall pick.