Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sportsbook boosts the Eagles' chances to win Super Bowl 50

The New England Patriots had barely put the finishing touches on their impressive run to last season's Super Bowl title and Sportsbook.ag had already posted its future betting odds to win Super Bowl 50 in February of 2016. At that time, the Eagles were seventh on the list at 25/1. The Seattle Seahawks opened as 6/1 favorites and New England was listed as a 7/1 second-favorite to repeat. Right below the Eagles on this initial list were the Dallas Cowboys at 15/1 betting odds.

Quite a bit has changed since then given some of Philly's dramatic offseason moves, so the burning question is did head coach Chip Kelly help or hinder his team's chances to win a Super Bowl title next season by swapping-out his starting quarterback and running back for supposedly new and improved versions while parting ways with his top wide receiver from a year ago?

Sportsbook.ag has updated its NFL futures board since the start of free agency and while Philadelphia is still seventh on the latest list, its odds to win Super Bowl 50 have improved to 18/1. The Seahawks remain the top favorite at 6/1, but the Green Bay Packers are now second-favorites at 15/2 with New England sliding down to third at 8/1 odds to successfully defend their title.

Kelly may have stole the Cowboys' top player on offense from last season when he signed free agent running back DeMarco Murray, but Dallas is still ahead of the Birds on the latest list at the same 15/1 betting odds.

One of the biggest movers and shakers on the current betting board is the New York Jets. Their opening odds to win next season's Super Bowl were well down the list at 125/1 with only four other teams having longer odds. The betting public must be pretty high on some of the Jets' offseason moves under new head coach Todd Bowles. New York is still considered a longshot at best as the 23rd team on Sportsbook.ag' current list; however it betting odds to win Super Bowl 50 have improved to 50/1.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Eagles' Mock Draft 2.0 Update- March 22

It has been a month since I released my first update for this year's NFL Draft and in that post I had the Eagles taking cornerback Marcus Peters from Washington with the 20th overall pick in the first round. Since that point, head coach Chip Kelly has been the ultimate wheeler and dealer in reshaping this entire team and part of that process added both Byron Maxwell from Seattle and Walter Thurmond III to his defensive backfield so the need to take a cornerback in the first round is not as pressing.

Part of the reshaping process was parting ways with the Eagles' top receiver from last season Jeremy Maclin, who decided to rejoin is old coach Andy Reid in Kansas City as a free agent. Along with a pressing need at wide receiver, Kelly will also need to fill some holes in his offensive line as well as well as at the safety position with the departure of Nate Allen.

Reid had a long history of taking offensive linemen in the first round of the draft and I see Kelly following in that tradition by selecting offensive lineman Jake Fisher with the Philly's first overall pick. The need is there and Fisher has shown versatility throughout his college career by playing almost every position along the line. The biggest selling point for Kelly pulling the trigger is that Fisher played his college career at Oregon and we all know about his affinity for adding as many Ducks as possible to the roster.

I am going with Fisher as my official first round pick, but another name to watch is safety Landon Collins from Alabama. This is another position of need and Collins brings both size and speed to the table in a defense that is not known for being one of the more physical squads in the league when it comes to pass coverage.

Moving onto the second round pick, I have Kelly taking UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. He would probably be a bit of a project at first, but Hundley's overall skill set fits Kelly's offensive system to a tee. He is also a product of the Pac-12, which automatically puts him on Kelly's radar. I am not sure if this would be the best pick at this position given the need at wide receiver, but I think that Kelly is hell-bent at solving his issues at the quarterback in both the short term with Sam Bradford and Hundley down the road.

These are the only two draft picks I am releasing in this month's Eagles' mock draft, but I am working my way through the list of prospects to add picks for the later rounds for next month's 3.0 version.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Can the Eagles win a Super Bowl with Sam Bradford?

The new Monty Hall of the NFL when it comes to "Lets Make a Deal" is undoubtedly Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly. In just two short weeks, he has completely reshaped his team's offense with a new quarterback, two new running backs and a gaping hole in the receivers' corps.

Among a number of shocking moves, Kelly decided to trade Philly's starting quarterback Nick Foles, who had shown some tremendous promise in his first three seasons in the NFL for the St. Louis Ram's starting quarterback Sam Bradford, who was the first overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. At face value this trade appears to heavily favor the Eagles, but given the fact that Bradford has only started seven games in his last two seasons due to multiple ACL injuries, it would have to be considered a risky move at best.

The bigger question than can the Eagles win a title with Bradford at the helm would be can Bradford remain upright long enough to even have a chance to hoist the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy? He did start all 16 games in his rookie season while throwing for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns. He completed 60 percent of his 590 attempts while getting picked-off 15 times which is not all that bad for a first year quarterback in this league.

He only made it through 10 starts in 2011 before suffering a season-ending injury, but he did go the distance in 2012 with a full 16 starts. A season-ending knee injury limited Bradford to just seven games in 2013 and he never even made it to opening day last season after going down with another torn ACL in a preseason game.

If Bradford can stay healthy in 2015, he will have one of the best backfields in the NFL to take some pressure off the passing game with both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews now in the fold. The bigger issue could be who will Bradford be throwing the ball to when he drops back to pass. The Eagles failed to come to terms with Jeremy Maclin, so they are now without a true No. 1 wide receiver. Jordan Matthews showed some tremendous promise in his rookie season last year with 872 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches, but it remains to be seen if he can elevate his game into that No. 1 position in 2015. Riley Cooper is a decent possession receiver and both tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz have shown some excellent pass catching ability. Throw in Darren Sproules catching the ball out of the backfield and you have a decent receiving corps, but hardly one that would be considered a championship caliber one.

Getting back to my original question of can Bradford leads the Birds to the Promised Land, my answer right now would be a very non-committal maybe!

You would have to think that Kelly has a few more tricks up his sleeve to try and address a few serious holes on defense so it is hard to say what the final version of Philly's roster will look like come opening day.

One thing that I can say with a certain level of confidence is that if all of the new faces that have joined this team stay healthy for the entire 16-game regular season, the Eagles will be back in the playoffs in 2015. The problem is that this "IF" is the biggest two-letter word in the world for our beloved Birds' title hopes.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Say it Ain't So- Shady McCoy gets Shuffled Off to Buffalo

Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly has gone out of his way to put his unique stamp on this team in his first two seasons at the helm; however lately he has been tattooing his name all over the place at the NovaCare Complex with some of his recent player personnel moves. I can appreciate the rational behind releasing some high-priced veterans that are no longer worth the cost of their contract, but trading away your top player in running back LeSean McCoy to open-up cap space is a whole other situation.

I get the math behind this move, but I am not sure I fully understand the logic when it comes to winning games next season. McCoy is an electrifying playmaker that has the ability to change the momentum of a game with a single play. I also understand that running backs are not a high-valued commodity in the NFL, but I also know that you still need a certain level of talent in all the skill positions to win a championship in this league. How far would Seattle have gotten the past two seasons if Marshawn Lynch was not on the roster?

My real take with this whole situation is that Kelly wants to rebuild the entire team in his image. Ego is a powerful tool that can be used to build dynasties as well as set a franchise back years with bad decisions. Regulars to this blog are well aware of how I feel about Jerry Jones as the owner/general manager of the Dallas Cowboys. Last year's record aside, we all know how much success his team has had behind his egocentric dictatorship once he parted ways with Jimmie Johnson in the mid-90's.

Eagles' owner Jeff Lurie wants nothing more than to bring a Super Bowl title to the City of Brotherly Love, but he has obviously drank that Oregon Kool Aid that Kelly had been peddling before taking his medicine show to the NFL. I think it is great to have a head coach with a world of confidence that their system is the right recipe to win world titles, but giving them all the power in personnel decisions in the duel role of general manager has failed more times than it has succeeded in this league.

I will reserve final judgement of Kelly's plan for next season and beyond until after the draft. I actually like the swagger he has brought to Philly after Andy Reid's show dragged on for a few more seasons than it should have, but I also have to question what is driving some of his decisions? Maybe he does have the master plan that will bring an end to a 44-year NFL Championship drought, but anytime ego is the driving force behind some of the bold moves that men in power make, it becomes a recipe for disaster.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eagles set to go after Byron Maxwell in Free Agency

The Seattle Seahawks two straight trips to the Super Bowl were built around a defense that featured one of the best secondaries in the league. It appears that the Eagles may be looking to rebuild their porous defensive backfield with one of the cornerstones of that Seattle defense by signing Byron Maxwell, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent on March 10.

This move would make all the sense in the world for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the need is there after the Eagles gave-up a NFL-high 72 pass plays of 20 yards of more this past season. Maxwell caught head coach Chip Kelly's eye in Philadelphia's 24-14 loss to the Seahawks this past season after he played a key role in keeping his high-powered offense from converting on nine of 11 third-down opportunities in that game.

The second reason on the list would be Maxwell's prototypical size and cover ability that would fit perfectly into defensive coordinator Billy Davis's current scheme. The Eagles do not have a premier cover corner and Maxwell would fit the bill. He would also bring a much needed physical presence at the line of scrimmage that has been extremely lacking in this defensive backfield in recent years.

Another reason why going after Maxwell would make a ton of sense is it would free up Kelly to pursue other team needs with the 20th pick in the opening round of this year's NFL Draft. The offensive line needs to be addressed as well as the safety position on defense. More and more experts are expecting Philly to make some kind of move to go after former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. If that is the case, Kelly is going to need to fill certain holes through free agency in light of the fact that he will probably have to mortgage this year's draft (and possibly the next few) to move up high enough to land his former signal caller when he was still coaching the Ducks.