Eagles

What if Chip Kelly never got personnel power with the Eagles?

What if Chip Kelly never got personnel power with the Eagles?

Jeff Lurie stood at the lectern in the NovaCare auditorium in late December of 2015 and made an admission. 

His bold hire of Chip Kelly was a flop. 

Not just that, but Lurie finally explained his reasoning for elevating Kelly from his role as a head coach to a head coach with personnel power in Year 3. Basically, Lurie wanted to go all in, knowing that if it didn’t work, he’d make a change. 

“There was really no choice in terms of maximizing Chip without him having the levers, so to speak, of making those decisions,” Lurie said after firing Kelly in 2015. 

“That’s where it was at. Either you were all in or you should find a new coach in terms of the trust. The choice was let’s see if that’s going to work. In terms of the results, part of that’s the reason we’re here today.”

As we look back at the last decade of Eagles football — and it was a wild one — there isn’t a single decision that has shaped the franchise more than Lurie’s decision to hand the keys to Kelly. 

So as 2019 winds down, I was asked to come up with one hypothetical “what if?” question pertaining to the Eagles. To me, the top one is a no-brainer. 

What if Chip Kelly was never given personnel control?

Kelly doesn’t flip the roster 

Kelly got into power and immediately went full fantasy football mode. Think about all the major roster decisions he made that offseason: 

-He traded away LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso 

-He traded away Nick Foles for Sam Bradford 

-He signed DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Walter Thurmond, Mark Sanchez, Miles Austin

-He released Evan Mathis 

-He drafted Nelson Agholor, Eric Rowe and Jordan Hicks to start the 2015 draft 

None of that happens aside from maybe a few of the draft picks. 

Roseman doesn’t spend his year away 

If Kelly never took over personnel control, Howie Roseman would have never spent his “year away” as he’s called it since. But that year gave Roseman some much needed perspective. When he took back power, he was aggressive in undoing some of Kelly's mistakes but also in completely reshaping the roster. 

Think about all of the major roster moves Roseman made that offseason: 

-He traded away Kiko Alonso, Byron Maxwell and DeMarco Murray and released Riley Cooper 

-He extended core players like Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson and Malcolm Jenkins 

-He signed free agents Brandon Brooks, Rodney McLeod and Nigel Bradham

The Eagles don’t get Carson Wentz 

But Roseman’s master stroke of that 2016 offseason was to move from 13 to 8 to 2 in the draft to take the Wentz from North Dakota State. This was his most aggressive move of that offseason and it was a concerted effort to find the next franchise quarterback. Roseman learned that the team would never get over the hump without that top quarterback. 

If Kelly was never given personnel power, he probably would not have been fired. And Wentz would have been drafted elsewhere. 

Think about this: If the Eagles didn’t trade up to draft Wentz, the Browns didn’t seem to want him at 2. The Chargers, at 3, still had Philip Rivers. At No. 4, the Cowboys took Ezekiel Elliott but that offseason, dating back to the Senior Bowl, the Cowboys really liked Wentz. He wowed them at his combine interview. The Cowboys ended up taking Dak Prescott in the fourth round, but maybe they would have taken Wentz. Could you imagine that? Wentz in a Cowboys uniform? Heck, maybe the Eagles would have drafted Dak Prescott in the fourth round. 

Eagles don’t get Doug Pederson

The most obvious thing that would have happened if Kelly didn’t get personnel power is that he probably would have remained the head coach for longer. It has always seemed like Chip Kelly the de facto GM got Chip Kelly the coach fired. And if Kelly doesn’t get fired, the Eagles don’t hire Pederson … at least not in 2016. 

Of all the moves in the wake of Kelly’s firing, the decision to hire Pederson was probably the most important. He brought some life back to the building and completely changed the culture. 

*****

Hiring Kelly and giving him personnel power two years later was a disaster. But it was a disaster that led to a lot of good things. Maybe this is a little too “butterfly effect” for you, but the decision to give Kelly the keys back in 2015 flipped the first domino in a chain that took the Eagles to incredible heights. 

To put it simply: The Eagles would not have won the Super Bowl if it never happened. 

So one of the worst decisions in Eagles history led to one of the most euphoric moments in the history of Philadelphia. Go figure. 

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Redskins sign Eagles Super Bowl starter Ronald Darby

Redskins sign Eagles Super Bowl starter Ronald Darby

The Eagles will now see Ronald Darby twice a year. Which is about how often they’ve seen him the last few years.

OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but Darby, who missed 22 games in his three years with the Eagles, agreed to terms of a one-year, $4 million deal with the Redskins Sunday, according to ESPN.

The Eagles acquired Darby from the Bills just before the 2017 season for Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick in 2018. Darby missed nine games with an ankle injury before returning to the starting lineup and playing at a high level down the stretch as the Eagles went on their Super Bowl run.

He suffered a torn ACL that cost him the last seven regular-season games and the postseason in 2018 and missed five games last year with hamstring and hip injuries.

Darby, who won a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash at the 2011 IAAF World Championships, had six interceptions as an Eagle, the most by any Eagles cornerback during the Doug Pederson Era.

At his best, he was a speedy, aggressive playmaking corner, but the Eagles just did not see that player very often, especially the last two years.

The Eagles went into the offseason committed to revamping the secondary, and they never had any intention of re-signing Darby, who made $5.625 million last year.

In Washington, Darby will be playing for new head coach Ron Rivera. The Redskins signed Kendall Fuller as a free agent but traded Quinton Dunbar, who started 11 games at corner for the Skins last year, to the Seahawks last week.

Darby is the seventh Eagles’ unrestricted free agent to sign elsewhere, following Halapoulivaati Vaitai [Lions], Jordan Howard [Dolphins], Kamu Grugier-Hill [Dolphins], Malcolm Jenkins [Saints], Nelson Agholor [Raiders] and Richard Rodgers [Redskins]. All but Howard were members of the 2017 Super Bowl team.

The Eagles made no effort to re-sign any of them.

Of the Eagles’ 15 free agents, only Jason Peters, Nigel Bradham, Vinny Curry and Josh McCown remain unsigned. The Eagles brought back Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, Nate Sudfeld and Hassan Ridgeway.

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Ever wonder how many Philly natives played for the Eagles?

Ever wonder how many Philly natives played for the Eagles?

When the Eagles signed Will Parks, who grew up at 2nd and Allegheny and attended since-shuttered Germantown High School, it got me wondering how many Philadelphia natives have played for the Eagles.

The answer is not many. Especially recently.

Going back to 1940, we found 14 Philly natives who played in at least one regular-season game for the Eagles.

We’re not including players from the suburbs [Vince Papale, Josh Adams, Matt Bahr] or Philly natives the Eagles drafted who never got into a game [Raheem Brock, Steve Ebbeke].

Anybody missing?

SHAREEF MILLER [2019]: You don’t have to go very far back to find the last Philly native to play for the Eagles. Miller, their 4th-round pick last year, graduated from George Washington High up in Somerton, and he did play for the Eagles last year – two special teams snaps against the Bills.

BRUCE PERRY [2005-06]: Perry, also a George Washington graduate, was the Eagles’ 7th-round pick in 2004. He played five games with the Eagles and had 16 career carries. On the last day of the 2005 season, he ran 15 times for 70 yards against the Redskins, a 4.7 average. He never had another NFL carry.

UHURU HAMITER [2001-02]: Hamiter was a defensive end who played at Mastbaum High in Kensington, leading the Panthers to the 1996 Public League championship. After playing at Delaware State, he went undrafted in 1998, but he signed with the London Monarchs of the World League and had seven sacks. The Eagles brought him into training camp that summer, and although he didn’t make the roster, he did resurface in 1999 with the Saints and played five games. He returned to Philly and played in eight games.

CHUCK WEBER [1959-61]: Weber went to Abington High, but he grew up in Philly, so we’ll keep him in the Philly section. Weber was actually the Eagles’ middle linebacker in 1960, when Chuck Bednarik played outside. Weber had six INTs in 1960, most by an Eagles linebacker until William Thomas had seven in 1995. In a 1960 game against the Cowboys at the Cotton Bowl he became the first linebacker in NFL history with three INTs in a game. He remains one of only six Eagles with three interceptions in a game and the only linebacker. Kurt Coleman is the last to do it.

EDDIE BELL [1955-58]: Bell went to West Philadelphia High and played at Penn. The Eagles drafted him in the 5th-round in 1953, and Bell, one of the first African-Americans to play in the NFL, had nine INTs in four seasons with the Eagles before spending time in the CFL and then the AFL with the New York Titans, who eventually became the Jets.

JOHN MICHELS [1953]: Not to be confused with the John Michels who was once traded for Jon Harris, this John Michels was a guard who went to West Catholic and then played at Tennessee. He was a 25th-round draft pick in 1953 and played 11 games for the Eagles.

JESS RICHARDSON [1953-61]: Richardson was from East Falls and went to Roxborough High. He was the Eagles’ 8th-round pick in 1953 as a defensive tackle out of Alabama. Ray Didinger tells me Richardson grew up blocks away from the Kelly family and was friends with Grace Kelly, who became Princess of Monaco. He played nine of his 12 NFL seasons with the Eagles, made a Pro Bowl in 1959 and started on the 1960 NFL Championship team.

WALT STICKEL [1950-51]: Stickel went to Northeast High and played at both Tulsa and Penn before the Bears drafted him in the 21st round in 1945. He finished his career with the Eagles, playing in 11 games.

MIKE JARMOLUK [1949-55]: Jarmoluk, an interior lineman, attended Frankford High and Temple and was drafted by the Lions in 1945 before finishing his 10-year NFL career with the Eagles.

BILL MACKRIDES [1947-51]: Mackrides played at West Philly and Nevada and was the Eagles’ 3rd-round pick as a QB in 1947. He spent all but three games of his six-year career with the Eagles and was a backup on two NFL Championship teams. He threw 15 touchdown passes.

BERT KUCZYNSKI [1946]: Kuczynski went to Northeast High and Penn and played in one game for the Eagles.

MIKE MANDARINO [1944-45]: A West Catholic and La Salle grad, Mandarino played in 13 games for the Eagles in the 1940s.

BUCKO KILROY [1943-55]: Kilroy grew up in Port Richmond and attended Northeast Catholic and played college ball at both Notre Dame and Temple and also served in the Merchant Marines before spending his entire 13-year NFL career as an interior lineman with the Eagles, often playing both ways. He started 103 games for the Eagles, playing on both the 1948 and 1949 NFL Championship teams and was named to the NFL’s Team of the Decade for the 1940s. After his playing career, Kilroy spent nearly 50 years as an NFL executive, including 37 years with the Patriots.

JACK FERRANTE [1941, 1944-50]: Great story. Ferrante grew up in South Philly and then West Philly and briefly attended high school somewhere in the city, although nobody seems to remember exactly where. He left school to work during his sophomore year and was only 18 when he starting playing semi-pro football. After earning a local reputation, he got a tryout with the Eagles in 1941. He played three games and caught two passes, then got another tryout in 1944, and this time he stuck. Ferrante wound up spending the next seven years with the Eagles, catching 169 passes for 2,884 yards, 31 TDs (tied with Brent Celek for 12th-most in Eagles history) and a 17.71 average (7th-best in Eagles history) while starting for the 1948 and 1949 NFL Championship teams.

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