The highly-anticipated reunion between Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is all but lost now following the redshirt sophomore’s decision to return for another season in Eugene on Tuesday.
During the tandem’s lone season together, the Ducks went 12-1 and came out victorious in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Under Kelly’s guidance, Mariota threw for over 2,600 yards with 32 touchdowns and a 163.2 rating. On the ground, he added 752 yards and five scores. The combination of Kelly’s innovation and Mariota’s athleticism was a match made in heaven.
That is why when Kelly accepted the job as head coach for the Eagles — a team who had little expectations coming into the season. It seemed like a lock that Philadelphia would flounder in Kelly’s first year and have a high enough pick to draft Kelly’s former prized recruit.
This idea, though, appears to be long gone.
Between the Eagles’ breakout season in which the team is battling with the Dallas Cowboys for the top spot in the division, the emergence of second-year quarterback Nick Foles and the decision to return by Mariota, there is very little chance Kelly will be coaching Mariota anytime soon.
With Philadelphia sitting at 7-5 and tied for first in the NFC East, there is a sense that the Eagles are in a win-now mode and are only a few pieces away from being serious contenders. One of those pieces doesn’t involve the quarterback position, however.
Entering the season, Kelly seemed set on using Michael Vick as his temporary quarterback until he was able to draft “his guy” next year. Following Vick’s injury, the breakout play of Foles has convinced Kelly that the former University of Arizona standout is “his guy.”
The 6-foot-6, Napolean Dynamite look-a-like is setting records with his 19:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He is closing in on 1,800 yards and has amassed a league-best 125.2 rating. In addition, he is proving the naysayers wrong by demonstrating a knack to escape the pocket and utilize his legs by scoring two times on the ground and picking up 145 yards.
Foles’ historic performance has left Kelly feeling confident moving forward and has even made the former Oregon coach go as far as to say he will be Philadelphia’s guy for the next 1,000 years.
With Foles in the picture for 2014 and beyond, it appears that the Eagles will approach the upcoming offseason with a “win-now” mentality and look to add players who can fill their holes right away. This could mean more veteran additions on the defensive side, especially in the secondary and at the linebacker position, and there’s no doubt Kelly will look to use his draft picks on talented skill position guys who will fit his up-tempo scheme.
This should result in Philadelphia having an even better campaign in Kelly’s second year at the helm to all but ruin the odds of the Eagles having a top 10 draft pick in 2015 to use on Mariota.