Building A Winner?

With Every Change Comes More Questions in Philadelphia

by Jeffrey C. Lyons | @JeffreyCLyons |

As hard as it is to believe, the Philadelphia Eagles are the winners of the strangest off-season for teams who did not make the playoffs award.  Let’s rehash the main highlights of what has occurred since their season ended:

  • Vice President of Player Personnel Tom Gamble leaves team
  • Howie Roseman elevated to Executive Vice President of Football Operations
  • Announced Chip Kelly oversee the Player Personnel Department
  • Named Ed Marynowitz Vice President of Player Personnel
  • Released OL Todd Herremans, CB Cary Williams and LB Trent Cole
  • Trade LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for Kiko Alonzo (official on March 10th)
  • Signed CB Byron Maxwell (official on March 10th)
  • Resigned Mark Sanchez

Now with just a few hours until Free Agency officially begins for the NFL, more and more questions continue to pile up for the Eagles.  These questions range from the obvious of why would Kelly trade McCoy for an injured player to the more sarcastic of is Kelly trying to build Oregon East?  Ultimately, the questions revolve around the Eagles’ plan and does Kelly know what he is doing.

After the McCoy trade, the Eagles had roughly $48M in cap space.  However, with the rumored deals for Maxwell and Sanchez, that space has been almost cut in half.  Yet, they still are short a starting cornerback and safety.  Latest news states that Jeremy Maclin is heading to the Chiefs, so add a wide receiver to the list.  Many would argue the Eagles are missing a starting running back that fits Kelly’s offense, especially since Frank Gore has gotten cold feet and is speaking with the Colts.  It could also be argued if Gore is a good fit anyway.

With the removal of McCoy and Williams, it has become noticeable that Kelly has been removing any dissenters from the locker room.  I had cited Williams as an open dissenter during my last article on the Eagles, while McCoy used to complain about Kelly telling him how to hand the ball to the officials in 2013 and his amount of carries in 2014.  Kelly was not removing players that the locker room didn’t like; instead he removed players who had issues with him.  If the opposite was true, then Riley Cooper would have been gone after his little incident in 2013.  Even stranger, many would state that the Eagles have let go of their two best players in the past two years (DeSean Jackson and McCoy).

All of these changes are creating an environment that many players do not want to be a part of.  No locker room or team ever has the perfect chemistry, but removing team leaders because they respectfully confronted a coach on issues will lead to severe trust problems.  While we may never know, has all of this fallout from Kelly cleaning house factor into Gore talking with the Colts?  Will it impact other free agents and their decision to come to the Eagles?

Obviously, none of these questions will be answered today, but the plan was dealt a massive blow when Devin McCourty resigned with the Patriots.  The only hope is that the plan better take shape in the next few weeks of free agency, especially since other big names like Darrelle Revis are now available and the list of holes seems to get longer by the day.  However, once the free agency is over, the questions will not stop.  Next will be: how will the Eagles attack the draft?  Is the “duh” rumor to be believed that they will sellout to get Marcus Mariota, or try to fix all their holes on defense?

It was believed that Kelly’s make or break year would be during his rookie season as a head coach, but he proved that his offense could carry over to the NFL by making the playoffs.  However, after missing the playoffs in 2014, he gained more control of the roster.  So far, a move that has signaled Kelly is in over his head.  Eagles’ fans are left in a limbo for 2015, either the team will “Fly Eagles Fly” or enough damage will have been done to last year’s 10 win team that Kelly will be fired.  As the fans continue to grow impatient, the majority of questions will not be answered until May 3rd.  In Philadelphia, that is a lifetime for a coach and front office to be questioned and hammered on their decisions.

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