Tag Archives: chip kelly

How Can I Measure Up to Anyone Now?

Who are you indeed, Nick Foles?

Only an NFL record-holder, apparently.

Throughout the first half of the NFL season, the major concern in Philadelphia has been whether or not new head coach Chip Kelly’s offense can be successful at the highest level or if it’s a gimmick that will be figured out by the rest of the league in due time.  Hand in hand with that is the issue of who should play quarterback for the Eagles.

The last two weeks, the Eagles have failed to score an offensive touchdown.  After playing well in relief of Michael Vick a few weeks earlier, Foles laid a spectacular egg against the rival Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago.  He put the cherry on top of his crap sundae by getting knocked out of the game after three quarters with a concussion.  Rookie Matt Barkley came into the game and promptly lit Foles’ bag of poop on fire and smothered it all over everyone’s doorstep.

Last week against the lowly New York Giants, Vick returned from his hamstring injury and lasted about a quarter before re-injuring himself, which literally everyone saw coming.  With Foles ruled out, Barkley came in once again and impressed absolutely nobody.

The bellyaching became annoying right away.  “This team has no quarterback!”  “We need a ‘quarterback of the future’!”  “What a waste of a draft pick!”  Et cetera, et cetera.

Obviously, Kelly’s offense needs the right quarterback to function properly.  But is the right quarterback a guy like Vick, who, when healthy, is a threat to take off and score from anywhere on the field?  Or is it someone like Foles, a guy who can move around to escape trouble, but whose legs don’t really scare you?  One thing is for sure: as of now, it’s probably not Barkley.

With Vick out again, Foles returned to the lineup this afternoon in Oakland.  All he did was throw seven touchdown passes.  In three quarters.

Granted, the Raiders aren’t very good.  Maybe they aren’t any good.  But still.  Seven touchdowns is a LOT of touchdowns.  Foles is the seventh player in history to do this; Peyton Manning became the sixth on the first night of the season.  No one has thrown eight.

As a sports fan, I wanted him to go for the record.  As an Eagles fan, the thought of Foles getting hurt and Barkley being forced to start was less than ideal.  Kelly split the difference: Foles went out for the next two series, despite the Eagles leading by 30-plus points.  After a pair of three-and-outs, Foles was taken out of the game.

Aw, man.  But also, whew.

So of course, as they are wont to do, the local sports media is wondering if Foles is the man Kelly’s been looking for.  Two weeks ago, he was terrible and was clearly not the answer.  Seven touchdowns later, maybe he is?  Ugh.  Just stop.

I think that Nick Foles should be the Eagles’ starting quarterback for the next two months.  Beyond that, I don’t know if he’s the Eagles’ quarterback of the future.  I do know that Michael Vick is not.  Why bother going through the charade of picking the quarterback every week?  Sure, health is the number one concern, as Kelly has stated.  But so long as he’s able to stand, and knows where he is, give Foles the job.

Kelly has to consider the fact that a number of guys in the locker room are friends, allies, and supporters of Vick.  He’s their guy, and to relegate him to a backup role could cause some trouble in the ranks.  But at some point, performance speaks for itself, regardless of its effect  on locker room harmony.  Vick hasn’t been able to finish his last two games.  Foles finished off an NFL record-tying performance, and did it in three quarters.

If there’s a guy in the locker room who doesn’t feel that Foles deserves to start next week, maybe that guy is the one who should be holding a clipboard.

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Speed Kills

A few days ago, I wrote about how I didn’t really like football anymore.  I alluded to the struggles of my hometown Eagles possibly playing a role in it, but the truth is that I have no problem whatsoever rooting for a crappy team.  Case in point: I just came home from a Phillies game.  And paid for tickets.  So yeah.

Well, the new-look Eagles took the field for the first time last night, and they took the football world by storm.  Head coach Chip Kelly – who I briefly wrote about in January, which feels like a decade ago – brought his fast-paced offense…okay, fine, his maniacally-paced offense to the NFL, and the players on the sidelines weren’t the only ones who needed oxygen at halftime.

It was certainly a change of pace (in many ways) from what we were used to seeing out of the Eagles, but another funny thing happened: I cared again.

I loved Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb and Brians Dawkins and Westbrook.  The Eagles of the 2000s were my Eagles; every generation has its legends, and they were mine.  Reid is the best coach this franchise has ever had, and McNabb is the club’s greatest quarterback, but unfortunately, here in Philadelphia, almost anything or anyone that has success gets beaten and broken down and eventually run out of town.  It’s why we can’t have nice things; we just break them.

So when the Eagles struggled to remain competitive and kept coming up short of the Super Bowl, Reid was eventually let go.  The celebrations across the area were second only to a championship parade.

More than a coaching situation, there was a general malaise around the franchise, a staleness.  As much as I liked Reid, even I admitted before the 2012 season that regardless of its result, it should be Reid’s last season in Philadelphia.  The Eagles needed more than a few breaths of fresh air, and we hoped Kelly would provide them.

Grantland’s Chris Ryan is a native of this area and is an Eagles fan.  He wrote a piece today in reaction to last night’s game that I really related to.  In it, he writes that “the late Andy Reid era just felt bad all the time.”  He acknowledges that this wasn’t a great preseason either, with all the injuries and the Riley Cooper situation, among other things.

And yet, as the game approached, and as it unfolded, it became clear that the guys on the team liked each other, and they liked their coach.  Lo and behold, when a team likes each other and seems to actually enjoy playing the game, it makes it a lot easier to watch them and root for them.

That closing part of Ryan’s column hit the nail on the head for me.  There was just so much other crap associated with being an Eagles fan that by the time the games rolled around, they almost felt irrelevant.  Watching the Eagles play just felt like a three-hour break from talking about and hating and hand-wringing over the Eagles.

It was exhausting.  And with my work schedule sometimes preventing me from seeing those early Sunday games, I didn’t even get that brief respite.  It was like riding on a hot, miserable bus for 12 hours to get to the beach, only for it to rain when you finally get there.

Watching these Eagles run around like kids on the sandlot and make the scoreboard light up every two minutes, it was like I was watching a group of scrappy young unknowns getting a taste of the big time and impressing everyone along the way.  Except a lot of these players are Pro Bowlers.  These aren’t nobodies; they are some of the most skilled players in the game, and their talents are being unleashed.

And it’s a whole lot of fun to watch.

No matter how I felt a week ago, if this offensive insanity keeps up (Kelly has been quoted as calling the offense “too slow” last night), it might be all I need to get pulled back in.

Hey, I never said I was tough to please.

He Was Long Gone When He Met Me

Wednesday was a busy day in sports lies.  The Lance Armstrong story is about to crest tomorrow when his confession to Oprah Winfrey airs and we all finally get to hear what he told her.  Spoiler alert: it may involve his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Then it came out that Oregon football coach Chip Kelly, who seemingly turned down a pair of NFL teams a week and a half ago, had changed his mind and decided to take the head coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles.

But that was just the appetizer for one of the more salacious main courses we’ve seen in a while: the revelation that the late ex-girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who famously passed away from leukemia this past September and inspired her boyfriend and the Fighting Irish as they completed a 12-0 regular season and earned a berth in the BCS Championship game, did not, in fact die, because she did not, in fact, ever exist.

Whoo boy.

I’ll write more on the Te’o story tomorrow, but all of these stories tie in nicely, so I figured I’d address them together tonight.

* * *

For some reason, we always seemed to believe Lance Armstrong.  He reminded every challenger that he never tested positive for drugs.  All those who came after him were just jealous of his success, just trying to bring him down.

You know who else never tested positive?  Barry Bonds.  And yet we all just assumed he was guilty from the jump.  I think the fact that Lance Armstrong survived cancer and started “Livestrong” while Barry Bonds was an insufferable jerk had more to do with it than we’re willing to admit (even though it turns out Armstrong was also quite the jerk in his own right).

But lately it’s come to light that Armstrong did, in fact, cheat.  Why?  Simply because everyone else was doing it.  Funny; there’s another sport out there that had a drug problem, where steroid users claimed they just wanted to “level the playing field”…

(Baseball.  I’m talking about baseball.)

So what will Lance Armstrong’s legacy be?  He lied, of course, and he lied very loudly, very antagonistically, very frequently, and for a very long time.  Livestrong is in flux; no one knows what effect this ordeal will have on the charity.  It would be a shame if it suffers in any way; it may have been built on a lie, but that doesn’t undo all the good those ubiquitous yellow bracelets have done.  We haven’t seen the interview yet, but if Armstrong’s team is any good at what they do, then “building awareness and keeping Livestrong going” should be the top, if not only, reason he gives for doping.  His celebrity status is what built the organization, what kept the money coming in, and while the ends don’t necessarily justify the means…I mean, isn’t this as close as it gets?  Who is actually on cancer’s side here?

Personally, nothing surprises me about people anymore, so hearing that Lance Armstrong was a drug cheat, like everyone else in cycling, is no big deal.  How the public reacts, however, will certainly be interesting.

* * *

There are some in the media who like to assail college football and basketball coaches for bouncing around and taking new jobs while student-athletes must sit out a year if they wish to transfer.  I understand those arguments, but at the same time, I feel like they shouldn’t apply to a coach who moves to the professional ranks.

Players are allowed to leave school early for the NFL or NBA draft; they had a dream, and they are now pursuing it.  Why are we so critical of coaches who make the same jump?  If Chip Kelly’s dream is to coach in the NFL, who are we to deny him the opportunity?  “What about the kids?”  What about them?  They’d all do the same thing if they had the chance.  Plus, we’ve been telling kids for centuries to chase their dreams; at what point is that no longer an option?

I understand that in the recruiting process, players pick a coach as much as they pick a university, and when that coach leaves, it feels like a betrayal.  The truth is, no one aspires to remain in an entry-level position in their field for their entire careers.  No one says “hey, you know what, I want to be an accountant, but a mediocre one who is ninth on the totem pole at the local H&R Block office.”  Likewise, no coach gets into the business because his dream job is to go 8-4 every year at West Dakota Tech.

If Chip Kelly left Oregon to take the job at Arkansas, trading one group of 18-22 year olds that were promised the world by a coach for another group of 18-22 year olds that were promised the world, then I could see being upset with him.  But this is different.  He never released a statement saying that he was staying at Oregon like Bill O’Brien and Brian Kelly did at Penn State and Notre Dame, respectively.  We don’t even know if he turned down the offer from the Eagles when it first came; I guess we’ll find out at his press conference tomorrow.

Besides; he won’t even be the most famous Charles Kelly in Philadelphia.  Let’s cut him a break.

* * *

Remember when I said that nothing surprises me?  Okay, Manti, you surprised me.

Like I said, I’ll write more on this tomorrow in my first “Unpopular Opinion Alert” post (I think), but this whole “Manti’s dead girlfriend never existed” thing is kind of nuts.

He claims he was duped, but if you read the story linked above from Deadspin.com, it seems hard to believe that by the end of it, he wasn’t complicit.  Of course, Te’o doesn’t seem to have gained financially from it.  The kid’s a heck of a football player, and playing for Notre Dame, he was always going to get publicity.  So the motive at this point would be unclear.

This is one of those situations where we may never know more than we do right now, so we might not ever know if he was in on it from the beginning, or if he was simply duped like the rest of us.

But one thing’s for certain: after the ordeal with Brent Musberger and A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend during the BCS Championship Game, and now Manti Te’o’s not-dead not-girlfriend, maybe the dating life of college kids won’t be such an important part of our sports coverage.  One can only hope.