Prime examples of a USA Today blogger’s version of depressed or not, fans around these parts tend to have a hard time seeing clearly, especially when it comes to the pro football team that inhabits Lincoln Financial Field. Regardless of what reality may be screaming, their views can stretch to the highest of highs and lowest of lows.
In a matter of a few snaps, it seems, the Eagles go from Super Bowl-bound to No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft position.
Currently, with the first regular-season snap more than a month away, prevailing opinion is quite positive. Actually, it’s very positive. Insanely positive.
Gotta say, I’m not really sure why. For all that gets bandied about with how this squad will win 12, 13 or more games and cement Chip Kelly’s place as the most brilliant mind the sport has ever come across, the foundation for all the hope and hype rests on four shaky supports.
Sure, the potential for Sam Bradford, Kiko Alonso, DeMarco Murray and Nelson Agholor to be key cogs in the Birds’ ascent to the elite, but, not for nothing, each of them remain question marks. Bradford, the most crucial of all, just happens to be the biggest one.
Draft first overall in 2010, the former Heisman Trophy winner has played in exactly 49 games during his pro career. He’s missed 31 due to injuries, including ACL tears that have cost him the last 25. In games he has remained afloat, he’s posted decent numbers, but, frankly, they’re a far cry from the guy he is replacing in Philly, Nick Foles.
Bradford, ballyhooed for his accuracy, has a 58.6 career completion percentage. Foles? Try 61.6. Bradford has a 59-to-38 TD-to-INT ration. Foles? Um, 46-to-17. Bradford has averaged 6.3 yards per passing attempt as a pro. Foles 7.6. Bradford’s career QB rating is 79.3. Foles’ is 94.2.
These are not small differences, people. They’re massive. Foles, the immobile one, even blows away Bradford as a runner (84 rush attempts, 331 yards, 4 TDs to 97, 247, 2).
Alonso is expected to be the crazed new bell cow of the defense, a hard-hitting machine who leaves it all out on the field. Well, in addition to already suffering a concussion in training camp, the guy is coming off a torn ACL that forced him to miss all of 2014 following a brilliant rookie campaign in which he registered 159 tackles. Oddly, the Eagles traded a reputed “bad egg” to get Alonso.
Funny, because the 6-foot-3, 238-pounder came with plenty of his own baggage … beyond the major injury last year. Playing for Kelly at the University of Oregon, he was arrested multiple times and even forced Kelly’s hand in a season-long suspension in 2010 for a DUI. Kelly reinstated him after that and was promptly reward with his protégé getting popped again, this time for burglary, trespassing and mischielf – oh, and for good measure, he was found to be intoxicated then, too.
Murray’s laundry list of injuries is enough to rival those of his quarterback. Knee and hamstring issues that plagued him at the University of Oklahoma have followed Murray into the NFL. That being said, his toughness shouldn’t be questioned. Last season he finished out an NFL-leading, 1,845-yard rushing campaign by refusing to miss any action on a surgically repaired broken hand down the stretch.
However, many have questioned all along whether he is better than the man he’s replacing, LeSean McCoy, aka, the aforementioned “bad egg,” and some are starting to wonder if the player signed to back him up, Ryan Mathews, may have more of an impact on the Eagles’ offense.
Agholor? He’s a first-round pick from the most recent draft who hasn’t played a down in the NFL. The comparisons to the guy he is expected to ultimately replace, Jeremy Maclin, are incredibly fair – if you go by their collegiate careers. The numbers each produced in three seasons are remarkably similar, both in the receiving and return games. Maclin just happened to be better on kickoffs and Agholor on punts. Other than that, hard to tell any difference.
Heck, even their measurables are the same. Both stand 6-foot and weigh 198. Agholor posted a 4.42 in the 40. Maclin 4.45.
Of course, if Agholor is truly another Maclin, Eagles fans can expect a major knee injury in the future. The youngster already showed his fragile side at the NFL combine anyway, incurring a dislocated finger that kept him from performing several drills.
Oh, and, uh, Maclin never materialized into the home-run threat the Eagles envisioned when they drafted him anyway. Will Agholor?
We’ll see …
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org