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Catching Up

April 2, 2013

With me being gone for so long from the website I’ve managed to miss quite a few important events in sports. I thought I’d catch up on these events with a grab bag style breakdown of some of the topics.

Elvis Andrus Extension: Andrus got what most people are stating is a market deal. That is currently being trumpeted as a triumph for the club as his agent is Scott Boras who never gets market deals but gets killer deals. Also he never signs extensions as he is always looking to get his clients to free agency where a “market” deal is really the Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, or Yankees overpaying for someone. I know 8 yr $120 is “market” and definitely isn’t Boras style but I still don’t like that deal. His WAR is good but his OPS is mediocre even for a SS. He has improved his doubles total but his HR totals are a joke. He has good range but he is regularly near the top of the league in errors. It seems like every positive comes with a negative for him and I just don’t see him as a 9 figure player. To me it was just management saying we can’t trade Andrus after losing MY and Hamilton as it would make us look like nerds next to calculators who think they are too smart. You could tell Kinsler was a little annoyed by management the past season and if Andrus left Beltre would have been pissed so it could have caused a wild locker room. Kinsler and Andrus at a combined $30 mil a year will be tough to swallow some years, that’s all I’m saying. Also the Profar option made trading Andrus a no brainer to me but oh well I guess that ship has sailed.

Chip Kelly’s Offense: I wrote this article right after Kelly was hired as to what I would do if I was GM to turn an NFL club “Kelly friendly.”

Re-sign Mike Vick-There are very few quarterbacks in the NFL who fit a Chip Kelly offense better than Michael Vick so it’s nice that the Eagles have him already under contract. Yet I stated re-sign Vick as I don’t see how the Eagles can afford to pay him $15 mil a year. He’s coming off an injury and turnover plagued season and the hope I’m sure is that he will accept a reduced contract say 3 yr $36 million instead of the $15 mil a year deal he currently is under.

Trade Nick Foles-Nick Foles at 6’5 240 with no running ability is a terrible fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. Yes they could keep him as Vick’s backup yet if Vick was injured they’d have to completely change their offensive system to adapt to Foles and no coach wants to do that. The better option would be to trade their 3rd round selection for a 2nd round pick by a team that became intrigued by his performances late in the year and move on. Foles is probably worth more than a 2nd rounder after his rookie season performance yet with free agency so deep and the draft approaching it’s unlikely the Eagles could get a 1st round pick for him and keeping him for a trade later would only hurt his value. The Eagles need to get what they can for Foles and not look back as he doesn’t fit Kelly’s offense and they need to adapt their personnel as quickly as they can to his specifications.

Trade for Tim Tebow-I’m always amazed at how polarizing Tim Tebow is. I’ve been called both a Tebow lover and Tebow hater which shows my middle of the road opinion of Tebow isn’t agreed upon by many. Yet realistically it’s both silly to think Tebow will ever become a dominant pocket passer, no matter how great his work ethic is, and it’s just as silly to say that Tebow doesn’t have a skill set that can be successful in the NFL in some capacity. This year Russell Wilson, RGIII, and Colin Kaepernick all had enormous success using the same zone read option that Tebow was successful with in 2011 yet many critics call it a gimmick offense and a fad that will go the way of the wildcat soon enough. It’s a ludicrous assumption as the zone read eliminates the need to block one defender which means a team running against a 7 man front is blocking as if it’s running against a 6 man front. Analysts use the “8 men in the box” phrase all the time yet a few minutes later will criticize the read option as a gimmick despite the fact that it’s the same concept. Tebow was widely criticized in 2011 for his passing as a Denver Bronco but they did lead the NFL in rushing that season just as RGIII and the Redskins led the NFL in rushing this season. Both teams used the zone read and I think Tebow would be a great backup QB for the Eagles as Vick is injury prone, Tebow fits the Kelly system perfectly, and after his disastrous season with the Jets in 2012 Tebow should be available for as little as a 7th round pick.

Sign Chris Rainey-A Chip Kelly offense needs speed in numerous spots to work most effectively. Kelly already has in place a great QB (Vick) and a great WR (DeSean Jackson) to fit his offense. He also has a quality set of RBs in LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown yet both are bigger backs and he could use a 4.3 speedster type who can take handoffs as well as flex out as a slot receiver. The player currently in this role at Oregon is D’Anthony Thomas and one of the closest matches to a player of Thomas’ height, weight, and speed just recently was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chris Rainey is a speedster who played with Tim Tebow in Urban Meyer’s spread offense at Florida to devastating affect and if the Eagles are willing to look the other way on his most recent legal troubles he’d be a great fit in Kelly’s offense.

Conclusion-When the Eagles hired Chip Kelly they went all in with their chips. He’s an offensive genius but one with no NFL experience who has to have a specific skill set on his team to adequately run his system. His downside is similar to Tim Tebow’s in that you can’t win with him unless you completely change your scheme and personnel to fit his style. If the Eagles are to be successful under Kelly they have to go all in on their personnel and trade the players who don’t fit (Foles) and add players that do (Tebow, Rainey, etc.). If they adjust their personnel immediately for Kelly I think his system will work in the NFL and it will be interesting to see how defensive coordinators adapt. The Eagles are taking a huge gamble by hiring Kelly yet with Andy Reid’s tenure over and the Eagles coming off back to back disappointing seasons I understand their logic and think it makes a lot of sense.

Flacco extension: (I wrote this before he signed his extension but it holds up) Flacco wanted a +$100 mil extension in the offseason and Baltimore balked. They then played the season where he struggled mightily at times and had average stats (12th in QB Rating, 19th in completion %, 16th in scoring offense) yet because he’s had 2 good playoff games (1st in QB Rating in postseason this year) everyone is saying he’s this superstar that he isn’t. Keep in mind the same argument was made for Mark Sanchez when he was 4th in QB Rating in the preseason and led his team back to back seasons to one win away from the Super Bowl. 2 years later he’s a pariah and put up statistically the worst stats of any starting QB last year. Yes Flacco is better than Sanchez but sample size is important and 2 playoff games that make him look great don’t negate 16 regular season games that make him look above average at best. You don’t pay $100 mil for an above average QB and if they do they will regret it. I suspect they franchise him for 2013 and then part ways in 2014 as by then Ray Lewis and Ed Reed will be retired and Terrell Suggs will be a has been. That D has carried them throughout the past decade and once those stars are no longer I suspect everyone will see that Flacco can’t carry a team on his shoulders. Or they franchise him, he struggles, and they re-sign him to the 5 year $60 mil deal he deserves. “I’ve been the one putting him on a pedestal saying Joe’s a top-five, elite quarterback, and he’s proving it,” agent Joe Linta told The Baltimore Sun today. They do have $15 mil in cap space for 2013 at this point so they are better than most but that’s not including Ed Reed, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Bryant McKinnie, Arthur Jones, Dannell Ellerbe, Cary Williams, or James Ihedigbo who all were starters for them. Cary Williams is likely to get 5-7 mil a year by himself so signing Flacco to a $18-$20 mil a year deal doesn’t work even short term let alone long term. The Saints are in the same boat just 1 year later as they signed Brees (deserving but still shows the effects of a big QB contract) to a $100 mil deal and are $14 mil over the cap with quite a few free agents. And that’s a team that didn’t make the playoffs and needs to bring in new talent. Baltimore has a tough call.

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