The talk began on Sunday November 2nd, 2014. It was shortly after Nick Foles strolled to the sidelines holding his shoulder. We would later learn that he had a shoulder injury that would force him to miss the remainder of the season. Eagle fans stared at the prospect of Mark Sanchez leading the team for the final 8 games.
The talk gained momentum November 3rd. Most thought Mark Sanchez meant doom and gloom and a high draft pick. With that the talk swirled over Chip finally getting his running quarterback. That man is Marcus Mariota.
Sanchez went 4-4 as the starter and the Eagles completed the season at 10-6. Most years 10-6 is good enough for the playoffs but not this year. The situation looked much like the Sixers of the 2000’s; not good enough to make noise and not bad enough to get an impact player.
Nick Foles has one year remaining on his contract at a bargain price. The Eagles have most of the leverage with Foles missing time last year because of injury. Despite Foles 14-4 record under Chip Kelly, many feel he is not Chip’s guy. The feeling is that he is not mobile enough and the half the playbook is not being utilized.
A front office power struggle in mid January led to a victorious Chip Kelly. Howie Roseman was essentially pushed out the door and Chip was given full control. This has led the Mariota talk to increase even more. The problem is that the Eagles select in the 20th position and Mariota is projected Top 5 maybe even top 2.
Being a college football fan, I have seen Marcus Mariota a handful of times this year. By no means do I break down film or examine each drop back and throw he makes. However, I have never been on the Mariota side.
As Oregon embarked on a playoff spot in the first ever college football playoff, I was able to watch Mariota more so than I did in the beginning of the year. I also was able to see what he did in the playoff game vs Florida St and the championship vs Ohio St.
My takeaways which have been made clear in conversations I have had are that I dont believe Mariota can make every throw on the field. I dont believe he made many NFL throws throughout the season this year. To many times his first read was where the ball was thrown. All of that stuff will change in the NFL. I felt watching Jameis Winston the exact opposite.
So from December until about a week ago, I have been vehemently against trading multiple draft picks for Marcus Mariota. I saw what the Redskins gave up to get RG3 and where that situation currently stands and it scared me. However, last Friday my thoughts all changed. I am going to lay out the reasons for my turn to the Heisman Trophy winner.
Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Tony Romo, and Aaron Rodgers. Those are the names of the final 8 quarterbacks playing in the NFL Playoffs this year. I could go back throughout time and list the final 4 and in most cases the final 8 and they will be franchise quarterbacks. Sure, you will have the occassions in which a special defense carried the team (see Tampa Bay Bucs, Baltimore Ravens) but the Eagles do not and are not close to a special defense to carry them. Anyone who thinks Nick Foles name belongs in a list like above is high.
Having a quarterback of that caliber hides other deficiencies around. Tom Brady took over the Patriots in 2001. With Brady taking over the signal calling in 2002 these are a list of the Patriots first round draft picks starting in 02.
02- Daniel Graham
03- Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork
04- Ben Watson
05- Logan Mankins
06- Laurence Maroney
07- Brandon Meriweather
08- Jerod Mayo
09- No Pick
10- Devin McCourtey
11- Nate Solder, Chandler Jones
12- Donta Hightower
13- No Pick
14- Dominique Easley
Tom Brady is the greates quarterback of our time and probably ever. His greatness has allowed the Patriots to miss on first round picks. His greatness allows them to take some risks in free agency. By no stretch of the imagination am I comparing Marcus Mariota to Tom Brady or saying he will turn into that but simply stating a franchise quarterback allows flexibility and hides deficiencies.
Eagle fans can look at the tenure of Donovan McNabb. For a decade, Philadelphia never had to worry about the most important position. Corey Simon, Freddie Mitchell, Lito Shephard, Jerome Mcdougle, Shawn Andrews, Mike Patterson, Broderick Bunkley, No pick in 07, No pick in 08, Jeremy Maclin. That is a list of the first rounders with McNabb under center.
Sure some nice productive players, but nowhere on that list is a true impact player. Franchise quarterbacks allow for mistakes in drafts and free agency. They allow for deficiencies on the field. And they allow for teams to take chances.
If the Eagles dont trade up for Mariota and play out the string with Foles, this is the last year on his deal. For the sake of the article, lets say Foles has an average year. Then what?? Do you resign him and hope? Do you let him walk and hope there is someone in the draft AND you can get him? The Eagles would be headed down the same road next off season.
As mentioned above, Chip has part of his playbook that has never even been opened. Nick Foles record speaks for itself and his 2013 campaign was epic to say the least throwing 27 tds/ 2 interceptions. But lets be honest, Chip wants a mobile quarterback despite him saying he can win with anyone. Has there ever been a better fit for what this coach wants to do? Chip recruited and coached him. He would be ahead of the curve knowing some of the offensive principles.
Arguably, the best coach ever is Bill Belicheck. His record prior to Tom Brady taking over was 43-46 (91-95 with Browns, 00 with Patriots, and 4 games with Patriots in 01). His quarterbacks when he coached the Browns Bernie Kosar, Mike Tomczak, Todd Philcox, Vinny Testaverde, Mark Rypien, and Eric Zeier. Half of the names you thought you would never see ever again. How can a coach truly be judged when those are the arms he is throwing out there.
Chip’s offense was criticized coming in the NFL. In 2 season he has gone 20-12/ 0-1 in playoffs. Both years have produced top 5 in offensive yards and points. He has done that without a true franchise quarterback. Its time for him to take his shot with a franchise quarterback. With him having complete control of the personnel, its all on him not to succeed or fail.
I mentioned above that last Friday my mind was swayed to make whatever deal you need to get Mariota. The thing that swayed me… Samuel Blake Hinkie. Sure, he could have stayed the course with Michael Carter Williams. Maybe MCW would have improved more or maybe he wouldnt have. But he dealt him in hpes of getting something better. I then realized to stop settling for medicority and placing everything on hopes. In order to be great, you cant settle and you have to be willing to do something bold. Sure, it may not work out but where is the higher ceiling Nick Foles or Marcus Mariota.
Here is your chance Chipper, look no further than the man across the street, the man who swayed me to want to be all in on this chance.