With it being a bit of a quiet spell between free agency and the NFL Draft, I thought it would be a good time to catch up with what's been happening around the division in the NFC East. Our friend Jimmy K from Blogging the Beast and Bleeding Green Nation kindly answered some of my questions to help us get caught up.
UK: First off, the Eagles took their time but eventually landed their new Head Coach in Chip Kelly. He's ultimately the biggest move of the offseason. Talk about what he's bringing to the Eagles (we've heard about a possible switch to the 3-4) and how he's been received by the fans in Philly.
Jimmy: He's unquestionably the biggest move of the offseason. I think the importance of a great head coach is something that is lost on people. What's more important? The "franchise QB?" Or a great head coach? In my opinion, they're not all that far off. Look at what happened to the Saints last year when they lost Payton.
OK, sorry, I'm getting side-tracked. To be determined how good Kelly will be. The most common thing associated with Kelly is the fast-paced offense. I think he'll employ that in the NFL, much like the Patriots are already doing up in New England. That should be fun to watch. However, I think the actual plays they run will be more traditional than what people seem to be envisioning. Kelly brought in Pat Shurmur to be the OC. Shurmur is a West Coast offense guy who tends to be a little more conservative, so I think those two guys will balance each other out.
The common thinking is that the Eagles could run a 4-3 under, similar to Seattle, which is basically just a variation of the 3-4. So far so good with the fans. Kelly is very personable, which is in contrast to Andy Reid. My favorite Chip Kelly moment so far is when he answered a question at a press conference by saying "Erroneous," then informed everyone that he got "erroneous" from Wedding Crashers.
UK: What were the big moves the Eagles made in free agency? You cut a fair amount of guys and spent a lot of money, but this isn't another 'dream team' is it?
Jimmy: They signed guys in bulk, but there weren't any real splashy moves. The most recognizable name was probably Connor Barwin, and he only got $8 million in guaranteed money. I talked more in depth about the Eagles moves (and the Redskins' too) in my NFC East draft recaps, for anyone interested.
UK: Looking specifically at that fourth overall pick, who do you think the Eagles are targeting?
Jimmy: They have a lot of options there. They could go OT (Joeckel/Fisher/Johnson). That would enable them to move Todd Herremans back inside to guard and plug in their pick immediately at RT. Then down the line they can move him to LT whenever Jason Peters isn't good anymore. That would give them an OL that would look like this:
Peters - Mathis - Kelce - Herremans - 4th overall pick
...which actually looks pretty awesome to me. They could also go with Dion Jordan at OLB to be the queen on the chess board. He can cover and he can rush the passer. Guys who do both of those things well are very hard to find. Jordan could be an extremely versatile piece. Or they could entertain the idea Ziggy Ansah or Sharrif Floyd, both of whom could potentially play multiple positions in a 3-4 look. And then there's Geno Smith. Personally, I don't see it. Maybe the Eagles do. In the NFL, you either have a good QB, or you have no chance. I'm of the opinion they have no chance with Michael Vick. Nick Foles looked good at times and bad at times, but I wonder what his ceiling is. The Eagles sent their owner, GM, and head coach to West Virginia to check out Geno. Is that a smokescreen? It feels like one to me. We'll find out soon enough.
UK: Last year we saw the Eagles go defense heavy in the draft, with four of their top five picks used to select defenders (In what I like to call, the RGIII effect). But the Redskins still managed to put up 297 rushing yards at 4.8 yards per carry over two games against each other last year. Do you think the Eagles will look to use this draft to further sure up that defense or are they looking in another direction?
Jimmy: Absolutely, the defense still needs help across the board. For the record, I don't think they drafted players with RG3 in mind last year, but I sure as hell think they will this year. Dion Jordan, Ziggy Ansah, and Sharrif Floyd are all very athletic players for their positions. The more guys you can assemble who can chase RG3 around, the better off you'll be. And it doesn't stop at RG3. If you look around at the rest of the NFC, there are playmaking QBs everywhere: Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers. Even guys like Tony Romo and Jay Cutler have the ability to run around and make plays. If your front seven can't chase down those guys... good luck.
UK: To wrap things up, from an Eagles perspective is there a particular guy that you'd rather the Redskins weren't able to draft with the 51st pick?
Jimmy: Hmm... I love knowing that the Skins' RT stinks, no matter who wins that job (as the roster currently stands). For example, at 4 in the morning I woke up in a cold sweat, and then realized, "Oh yeah, Tyler Polumbus. Everything's going to be OK." And I went back to sleep. I know there are positions where a splashier player like a safety or corner might be sitting there, but if the Skins fixed RT that would bug me. Fortunately, most of the OTs worth drafting will be off the board by then. I hope, anyway.
Thanks again to Jimmy K for his time. What do you guys make of the Eagles offseason to this point?