2013-14 Philadelphia Eagles: Rebuilding for a Better Tomorrow

With the off-season already in tow and Chip Kelly as now the Philadelphia Eagles head coach, here’s my blueprint for the Philadelphia Eagles:

  • Quarterback Michael Vick. With San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick and Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson rising, it would seem that Michael Vick would be a logical choice to remain a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.  But Vick is actually quite outdated compared to either of those. Vick is comparable to a old-school Corvette versus a modern Saleen S7 in Kaepernick and Wilson. As sleek as Vick may be, his engine would burn out long before he reached the finish line. Vick is outmatched and outdated in this new era of quarterbacks.
  • Quarterback Nick Foles. Nick Foles is no Jeff Garcia nor will he ever be.  Nick Foles has slight potential, but he lacks an upside. Foles is far too predictable.  I would gladly barter both Michael Vick and Nick Foles for San Francisco 49ers Alex Smith, even as a backup.  Smith is an intellectual quarterback, but he lacks mobility.  Still though, he would be a good option for the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Return to 4-3 and Contain Defenses. The Eagles used to be the best at containing the quarterbacks under Jim Johnson, and the Eagles should return to the 4-3.  What the Eagles had in talent in 2012-13 they lacked in mentality and preparation. With Robert Griffin III and his Washington Redskins in their division, the Eagles defense must adjust properly.
  • Running Back LeSean McCoy. He’s one the few bright spots of the Eagles organization.  Talent and skill-wise, he’s been better than Brian Westbrook.  He should be kept.
  • Tight End Brent Celek. He’s another of the few bright spots of the Eagles organization.  He should be kept.
  • Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson. His free lunch with Andy Reid is officially over — and should have been over a while back.  If Coach Kelly wants him to play as kick returner, he plays kick returner.  If he wants him to play cornerback or safety, he plays cornerback or safety.  Otherwise, he gets traded and exchanged for someone more than willing to play, like soon-to-be free agent Green Bay Packers Greg Jennings.
  • CEO Jeff Lurie. Well, he should keep his reins on Chip Kelly.  At least for now.
  • Head Coach Chip Kelly. Chip Kelly must instill discipline of the Eagles team from the start.  However, he seems like a pushover which does not seem to bode well.  Kelly could play favorites like Reid did, and the house of cards will again crumble.

NFL 2012-13 Season in Review: The ABCs of the NFL

Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco After the Super Bowl Win Over the San Francisco 49ers

With the Baltimore Ravens winning Super Bowl XLVII over the San Francisco 49ers 34-31, the NFL season has offiically come to an end, and Ravens Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis finally got their rings.  With it, the 2012-13 season of the NFL brought in some interesting twists and turns as the free-agency system has finally matured and transformed the NFL into a season of instability and chaos.  The inclusion of the 2011 rookies also helped as they have created a NFL, a mixture of the old guard and the new.

  • A is for Andy Dalton. Cincinnati Bengals Andy Dalton may have the Donovan McNabb curse.  For the second time in the playoffs, he once again fell flat with the Houston Texans.
  • Y is for Young Guns.  Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck, Washington Redskins Robert Griffin III, Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson and San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick all changed their teams for the better.  At least for this season. They all have potential to become elite quarterbacks in their own right in the future.
  • A is for Adrian Peterson. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has always been a a workhorse for the team like the St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson.  But this season he proved himself more than ever.
  • P is for Peyton Manning.  Even though he’s not with the Indianapolis Colts anymore, he is still an elite quarterback who makes something out of nothing.  While he’s with the Denver Broncos, he’s going to keep the team competitive, if not better.  He’s already taken advantage of Demaryius Thomas, Denver’s equivalent to Reggie Wayne.
  • R is for Rex Ryan. For the most part this season, he stayed out of the news this year. Surprisingly.  No more supposed Super Bowl parades, and the quarterback controversy between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow was kept to a minimum.  However, there was some questionable choices during the mid-season involving his roster of injured quarterbacks.  
  • R is for Read-Option. With the Wildcat formation going the way of the Tim Tebow comes the resurrection of the read-option in the NFL.  This is not a long-term gimmick for the NFL as the Super Bowl showed, but it has served well this season.
  • E is for Elite. The New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers earned their spots in the playoffs. Again.  With both Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay and Tom Brady of New England, both quarterbacks are performing at a high standard.
  • S is for Second Tier. The Atlanta Falcons, the Baltimore Ravens, the Houston Texans, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks all earned their spots in the playoffs this season as well.  These teams don’t have elite quarterbacks, but they are excellent as a team. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco did rise above when it counted against New England Patriots Tom Brady….
  • D is for Defense. Like in previous seasons, stout defenses win games when the games remain tight. The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers have proven that.
  • F is for Fundamental. Those teams who planned ahead finally got their due — the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.
  • A is for Andrew Luck.  Well, the Indianapolis Colts got their Andrew Luck, a quarterback that is decisively better in the long-term than Washington Redskins Robert Griffin III in my opinion.  However, he buckled under the Baltimore Ravens defense and rookie jitters.
  • R is for Robert Griffin III. Robert Griffin III has proven himself to be Washington Redskins’ franchise quarterback.  But with him participating in the Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks with an injured knee was a bad idea transformed into a worse idea.  
  • C is for Coaches. This was a dismal season to be an NFL coach. The firings of coaches from some teams, like the Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs, was expected.   These teams don’t have a record of keeping coaches — and keeping their teams in competitive shape.
  • H is for Harbaugh. The Harbaugh brothers are remarkably intelligent, and neither of them particularly cater the media.
  • J is for Joe Flacco. Despite winning the Super Bowl, in my opinion, he is still a second-tier quarterback.  He is lucky to have a stiff defense helping him when he needs it most.

This season was indeed intriguing as the elite fell to some of the second-tier teams.  Now onto next season…

21st Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly: The Deconstruction of the Off-Season

With the hiring of Chip Kelly, the former University of Oregon Ducks and a brilliant mind for college offensive schemes, as the 21st Philadelphia Eagles head coach, he has his work cut out for him. Not only will he be in one of the toughest sports environments as fans can easily bastardize him one moment and praise him the next, he will have to rescue a flogging offense, a porous defense and two quarterbacks reeking of mediocrity. The pistol and read-option offenses have come to a smashing success this season, and the Philadelphia Eagles and the rest of the league will adapt defensively — and change their offensive gameplans accordingly during the off-season. So before everyone in Philadelphia decides to burn the man at the stake before he even has the first opportunity to make a decision of any consequence…

With all this in mind, Chip Kelly has made a good impression — at least with the media.  He has that so-called “winning” personality — smiling, boisterous, catering to the media and knows exactly what to say in a soundbite. In reality, he has established himself as nothing more than Jeff Lurie‘s overpaid $32.5 million lapdog already — to be brutally honest.

Chip Kelly will hopefully remove some of the malignant parts of the Philadelphia Eagles in his attempt to please everyone.  With him already baiting Michael Vick, however, it is not good.  Michael Vick is an outdated and fragile (physically) player even in the new read-option offense.  Vick couldn’t survive another season of punishment.

All in all, Chip Kelly is one interesting choice.  Not one that I would have made, but then again, I am not Jeff Lurie.  I think that Jeff Lurie believes Chip Kelly can produce him the success of Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, and he possibly might.  However, I would have personally opted for former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley or San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman myself.  I would have preferred Greg Roman myself for an offensive-minded coach, but he probably couldn’t endure the Philadelphia frenzy.

I am not so quick to crucify him.  Not just yet.

2012-13 NFL Season Preview for Fantasy Football: Chaos in Motion

With most of the fantasy football leagues already in tow with their drafts and the preseason games closed, it’s time to see how this season will fold.  Now onto my predictions for the NFL 2012-13 regular season:

  • Rookie Quarterbacks.  After the Wildcat, rookie quarterbacks are the new sensation in football.  With Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford and Cincinnati Bengals’ Andy Dalton both performing well, given their short tenure in the league, now it’s time for others to shine — and collapse under the burden of the NFL.  Washington RedskinsRobert Griffin III is a hot commodity to be sure, but you better count your eggs before your chickens in his case.  Otherwise, he might leave your basket half-empty.
  • Chaos, Chaos Everywhere.  With veterans already injured, like Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson, fantasy football players will be scrounging early and often.  Waiver wire will be the godsend and disaster for many, many people.  Whereas in earlier seasons, the waiver wire was fundamentally for backups and gamblers.  EVERYONE will be scrounging.
  • Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck vs. The World.  Andrew Luck has high expectations on his shoulder in the Indianapolis Colts locker room.  He has almost the same quality weapons that now Denver BroncosPeyton Manning has, but will he live up to expectations?  He should get close and surpass Robert Griffin III.  Anything beyond that, I won’t risk.
  • Denver Broncos‘ Peyton Manning vs. New York Giants’ Eli Manning.  The Mannings have already done their commercial work.  I don’t think Peyton Manning won’t be driving his Buicks through any goal posts this season.  He should do a better-than-average job as quarterback for the Broncos.  He should be capped as a low-end QB1/high-end QB2.  Eli Manning should be capped as a high-end QB2.  Both will average each other out.
  • Philadelphia Eagles Michael Vick and Nick Foles: The Jeff Garcia Effect.  You know how history repeats itself.  The Eagles will repeat history again.  Vick will get injured, and Foles will indeed take the Eagles at or near the playoffs with his leadership and ability.  Once the Eagles get into the playoffs (or near it), Vick will miraculously return and take the reins.  However, the wheels will fall of the Eagles truck — once again.
  • New York Jets’ Tebow Wildcats and His Jesus-Voltron.  Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan created a combustible quarterback situation.  How long do you think Tim Tebow will take a backseat in the Wildcat formation?  Hmmm, not too long, I think.  Once Mark Sanchez fails even slightly, Sanchez will be pulled.  If Ryan doesn’t pull him, the angry New York fans will.  The clock is ticking…

This is a short taste of what’s to come during the NFL 2012-13 regular season of fantasy football in my honest and blunt opinion.

The Quarterback Carousel, Part 2: Trades, Trades Everywhere…The Fantasy Football Perspective

Kevin Kolb: From the Philadelphia Eagles to the Arizona Cardinals

Well, everyone, I believe, knew at some point this trade was going to come down.  Whether Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt made the right decision by trading cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and a second-round draft choice remains to be seen.  I believe Kevin Kolb does have talent when nurtured by his coach and his teammates.  He should find a hospitable environment to mature as a quarterback, but I don’t believe he will ever become an elite quarterback, perhaps a second-tier quarterback.

Pros

Kevin Kolb does have some nice intangibles for a pocket quarterback, particularly when he has a solid wide receiver to lean on in the name of Larry Fitzgerald.  With the acquisition of Tim Hightower to the Washington Redskins, it now leaves Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams as the dual running backs for the upcoming season.  This will be considered a rebuilding season, and it will be for Kevin Kolb as well.  He needs to develop chemistry and camaraderie between his new teammates for him to develop.  I think his tight end Ben Patrick will become one of new best friends on his team, if it becomes anything like last season with Eagles tight end Brent Celek.

Cons

During the 2010 regular season with the Philadelphia Eagles, he didn’t put up remarkable numbers.  He played only seven games.  And he had 1,197 passing yards, 7 touchdowns and a mediocre 76.1 quarterback rating.  During the 2009 season, he had a better quarterback rating of 88.9, but it was a bit inflated on the fact he played only five games.

Fantasy Football Perspective

Although Kevin Kolb is competitive, he hasn’t quite matured as a quarterback quite yet.  I would put him as low-end QB2 with lots of reservations.  I would even suggest leaving him on the waiver wire until he proves himself, which most likely will occur as the season progresses.  As the seasons progress, he might be worth a gamble then.  For now, he’s not quite worth it just yet.

Vince Young: From the Tennessee Titans to the Philadelphia Eagles

Although it is a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles as a backup, it is actually a bit of a quandary — as much as Michael Vick was in the same position under Donovan McNabb.  Vince Young was never an elite quarterback by any stretch of the imagination, but the Eagles did solve some problems of their own by this short-term acquisition.  He could become a formidable part of the Wildcat formation, should Eagles head coach Andy Reid use him in that manner.

Pros

Statistically, Vince Young has shown steady improvement.  His rookie and sophomore seasons with the Tennessee Titans were a bit rough on him as he often had as many touchdowns as he did interceptions.  His quarterback ratings of 66.7 and 71.1 demonstrated it.  In the most recent 2010 season, he improved tremendously with 10 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and a 98.6 quarterback rating.  He has a tendency to rush but not as much as Michael Vick, the quarterback he’s backing up.  He has much better weapons on the Philadelphia Eagles than he did with the Tennessee Titans overall.  He has elite wideouts in Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, a solid running back in LeSean McCoy and a physical tight end in Brent Celek.

Cons

Although he has shown respect for Michael Vick now, should a spat occur between the two after an injury to Michael Vick, Vince Young could conceivably take over as starter for the rest of the season.  That would put Michael Vick in a bind, as he would be staring right in the mirror when he stole the starting job away from Kevin Kolb last season.  Vince Young is a bit more volatile than Michael Vick as proven last season with then-coach Jeff Fisher.  Although Michael Vick may be one of the reasons quite a few free agents joined the Philadelphia Eagles, I believe that Vince Young may actually have more leadership ability in the locker room than Michael Vick; that is, when he is calm and given a chance to lead.

Fantasy Football Perspective

I would most definitely take Vince Young as a reserve immediately.  He could potentially take over as starting quarterback this season for the Philadelphia Eagles, and when he does, you don’t want to miss that golden opportunity.  He is a solid QB2 with some upside, particularly with the Eagles.  Although he is every bit as fragile as Michael Vick, he is a bit smarter than Vick in my honest opinion and has less tendency to rush whenever there is trouble.

Tarvaris Jackson: From the Minnesota Vikings to the Seattle Seahawks

Tarvaris Jackson has been in the shadow of Brett Favre for the past couple of seasons.  Now he is on the Seattle Seahawks, the Cinderella team of last season.  Although the Seattle Seahawks was first in the weakest division last season, they did make the playoffs and defeated the New Orleans Saints.  With the recent acquisition of Sidney Rice as well, it’s two former Vikings teammates linking together this upcoming season.  This should bring some fruitful results, but with the Seahawks, it should be tempered, particularly under somewhat conservative head coach Pete Carroll.

Pros

The pros going for him is the fact that Sidney Rice and Zach Miller joined the Seattle Seahawks. He has demonstrated the ability to shine…for playing only half a season.  During the 2008 season, he had 1,056 passing yards, 9 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a 98.2 quarterback rating.  Bear in mind it’s only 9 games that he played in.

Cons

Tarvaris Jackson isn’t the most proficient quarterback, and his numbers prove it.  His overall quarterback rating to date has been 76.6.  It may go higher this season, but I hold my reservations on this one.  The addition of Sidney Rice should help his numbers, but then again, Rice would help any quarterback’s numbers improve.  With the recent addition of Zach Miller from the Oakland Raiders, Tarvaris Jackson should be leaning on Miller’s capable hands, much like Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell did.

Fantasy Football Perspective

I would leave Tarvaris Jackson on the waiver wire for this upcoming draft.  I would only pick him should your quarterback stable become injured, and you’re left with no one else.  After the recent acquisitions, Jackson should be a low-end to middle QB2, and with the way the schedule looks after the Seahawks bye, I wouldn’t take too much of a chance on him.

The Quarterback Carousel, Part 1: Trades, Trades Everywhere…The Fantasy Football Perspective

Matt Hasselbeck: From the Seattle Seahawks to the Tennessee Titans

With Matt Hasselbeck on a new team, he should have a chance to begin anew, but whether he will become productive as he once was remains to be seen as in 2005.  Back in 2005, with Shaun Alexander as his running back, Matt Hasselbeck was nearly at his most prolific with 3,459 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and an overall 98.2 quarterback rating.

Pros

With Matt Hasselbeck as a starter, he should have a chance to tutor Jake Locker.  Whether that is beneficial in the long-term that remains to be seen.  Pessimistically, Jake Locker could become the next A.J. Feeley as a result.  At least for this upcoming season, he will a strong running back in the name of Chris Johnson.  If Chris Johnson could once again become a running threat this season, it should open lanes to his receivers.  With Kenny Britt lacking control of himself off the field, it seems like Nate Washington will be the first to benefit.

Cons

Matt Hasselbeck hasn’t been his elite self in quite a while.  Since 2005, with the exception of the 2007 season, his quarterback rating has been on the decline.  It has dropped from 98.2 in the 2005 season  to 73.2 in the 2010 season. His touchdown production has fallen to nearly half since 2005 from 24 to 12 touchdowns.  Unfortunately, the number of interceptions have nearly doubled since 2005 from 9 interceptions during the height of his career to 17 interceptions last season.

Fantasy Football Perspective

Matt Hasselbeck still isn’t worth the gamble in my opinion.  He’s at best a low-end QB2, and his age will catch with him much faster than Brett Favre.  His durability — and his consistency — has been in question the past couple of seasons as well.

Donovan McNabb: From the Washington Redskins to the Minnesota Vikings

This is a bit of a gamble, but there’s an upside for the Leslie Frazier and his Minnesota Vikings team.  With rookie Christian Ponder still in the works, Donovan McNabb will have resources remarkably similar to the Philadelphia Eagles albeit more durable overall.  If Leslie Frazier can keep Donovan McNabb happy, he should become a productive contributor to the team.  But if Donovan McNabb is replaced mid-season due to inconsistencies, like last season with the Washington Redskins, it could spell turbulence for the Minnesota Vikings with Donovan McNabb’s childish behavior resurfacing.

Pros

Donovan McNabb has a shotgun of the arm, but he was most prolific with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004.  He had 3,875 passing yards, 31 touchdowns and a 104.7 quarterback rating.  With dominant Adrian Peterson as his running back and his stable of potent wideouts, he and his teammates should have immediate benefits.  Wideouts Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian should benefit.  However, with Donovan McNabb, there is always a catch…

Cons

Donovan McNabb has been a slow decline since 2004.  His touchdown production has nearly fell in half from 31 touchdowns to 14 touchdowns.  The number of the interceptions have nearly doubled  from 8 interceptions to 15 last season.  With his inconsistencies and erratic behavior on the field, I remain skeptical of him grooming any upcoming quarterbacks on the Minnesota Vikings roster.  In other words, actions speak far louder than words ever will.

Fantasy Football Perspective

On the Minnesota Vikings team, he could potentially return to his former productive self.  However, it will heavily depend on the chemistry between the coach and his teammates.  For now, he’s worth a solid QB2 with an upside.  Donovan McNabb is worth a gamble.

Philadelphia Eagles Pre-Season Schedule: Preview of Strong Defenses Coming For Michael Vick (and the Eagles)

With the release of the pre-season schedule, despite the non-resolution of the work stoppage between the team owners and the players, it appears that the Philadelphia Eagles will have their work cut out for them, even in the initial few games.  Although these aren’t regular season games, they will face teams with potentially threatening defenses during the upcoming season.  The mediocre offensive line last season could potentially face some replacements from this upcoming draft, whether it be held with Commissioner Roger Goodell or with DeMaurice Smith of the dissolved NFLPA.  Several mock drafts that I have seen the Eagles picking offensive linemen and cornerbacks within the first few rounds, and those selections would be quite reasonable in light of the Eagles many revealing deficiencies last season.

The Philadelphia Eagles first face the Pittsburgh Steelers, the loser of the Super Bowl against the reigning Super Bowl Champions Green Bay Packers.  Not only will they face a stout defense that will still undoubtedly pursue Michael Vick and test the offensive line during the regular season, should there be one, they will face the physical running of Rashard Mendenhall.  And Michael Vick will deal with Troy Polamalu who led third in interceptions with seven during the previous season.  Unfortunately, for Eagles fans, this will be held at the Steelers home at Heinz Field.

Next, the Baltimore Ravens will come to Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Park.  Joe Flacco matured quite well last season, at least producing second-tier quarterback numbers during the regular season.  The Philadelphia Eagles will face another potent and versatile running back in the name of Ray Rice.  Their defense, with Ed Reed leading in interceptions last season with eight, will still be fast and physical at times.

The Cleveland Browns come afterwards for their pre-season game at Lincoln Financial Field.  With Eric Mangini out and Pat Shurmur in, this will be the first view of the Browns new offense, led by young quarterback Colt McCoy and power running back Peyton Hillis.

And, finally, the Philadelphia Eagles will face the New York Jets and their stiff defense.  This is the same team that defeated in the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots with their elite quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady respectively in the playoffs.  This will be the Eagles final test of their offensive line before the regular season starts, if the collective bargaining agreement is finally resolved.

The Eagles will at least have the first few games to test out their offensive line and whether their defense can be anyway be considered elite during the regular season.  The opponents will also gather to see if Michael Vick learned any new tricks during the off-season.  However, if he hasn’t, Vick, his Eagles teammates and their fans could be in for a long season.