Are Nick Foles, Chip Kelly, and the NFL a Match?

Are Nick Foles, Chip Kelly, and the NFL a Match?

They have yet to conduct so much as one formal interview, or
even fire Andy Reid for that matter, but it sure sounds like the Eagles have a great
deal of interest in Chip Kelly. The rumor reached fever pitch over the past few
days since CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported the Birds are expected to be among
the first NFL teams to call the University of Oregon head coach about their new openings.

I imagine this front office will be among the first to
contact many of their potential targets. After all, they had to be plotting this
search for almost two months now – Howie Roseman probably built an itinerary he’ll
follow right down to the 15-minute interval – and naturally they wouldn’t limit
themselves to one candidate, either. (Technically, they couldn't because of the Rooney Rule.)
My own best guess is the Eagles move quickly, but proceed thoroughly.

In other words, Kelly is certainly on the radar if these
rumblings are to be believed, although whether or not he emerges as the so-called
favorite remains to be seen. Two possible impediments immediately spring to
mind, and those happened to be discussed by John Boruk and Ray Didinger on
Wednesday’s edition of Daily News Live:

1. Will his
spread offense translate to the NFL?

2. Is Nick Foles a fit for that
style of offense?


First, that presumes Chip off the Oregon block is going to
arrive from college football and instantly install a replica of the Ducks’
offense. Second, if Foles isn’t the quarterback in Philly next season, then who
is?

Bear in mind, any head coach works inside of two fairly
simple constructs: what is successful in the National Football League, and
the talent on their roster. And to keep both issues as boilerplate as
possible: 1. the spread offense Oregon presently employs resembles no other NFL
offense, 2. the Eagles don’t have many other options under center, especially
good ones.

Both of which suggest Coach Kelly would be forced to evolve.

Is that to say he would not be the hire? Not
necessarily. As La Canfora wrote, Kelly is going to be a hot commodity this
January. Besides the Eagles, the Carolina Panthers are also rumored to be
serious about testing the waters. Last year, it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
who all but snagged the guy until he suddenly thought better of it. But no
matter where he goes, the expectation will be he immediately adapt to
the pro game.

Even if Kelly wanted to run a variation of his current scheme here, the
Birds don’t possess the personnel to do it, couldn’t easily come across it,
either – unless of course they decided to stick with Michael Vick. Hm… great
idea, putting Vick in a system that exposes him to more hits.

There are no big-name free agents, no supposed can’t-miss prospect
in this year’s draft. So then, which is more likely: an organization hires a
head coach to build around an unorthodox, soon-to-be-33-year-old quarterback who
has never experienced sustained success, or it hires a head coach willing to
develop a player entering just his second season who shares more attributes with the traditional pocket
passers that have won Super Bowls in the past decade?

Not to keep running in circles, but that still should not automatically preclude Kelly from consideration. Actually, it might be unreasonable to
assume he plans to port Oregon’s scheme to the Eagles anyway. That thought sure didn't prevent the Bucs from getting involved, and QB Josh Freeman isn't exactly the fleetest of foot.

That's the one thing I absolutely am not hung up on – the spread attack being the sole quality Chip Kelly has to offer. If he were strictly attached to such an unconventional gimmick, would he be generating so much
buzz around the league in the first place? I don't think so. He's going to run an offense that is designed to beat an NFL defense, constructed for the talent he has to work with.

Kelly said as much himself over the summer:

“No one can be married to one thing, because it’s all personnel-driven,” Kelly said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “It’s like the Denver Broncos. What John Fox did in Denver with Tim Tebow was outstanding because he looked at what he had for a player and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to run this.’ Now, all of a sudden, they have Peyton Manning and they’re not going to run the same plays. . . . It’s a personnel-driven game and I think the coaches that are the best at it can adapt their systems to the NFL.”

Howie Kendrick (oblique) finally ready to begin rehab assignment tonight

Howie Kendrick (oblique) finally ready to begin rehab assignment tonight

Phillies corner outfielder/infielder Howie Kendrick is finally nearing a return. He'll begin a rehab assignment tonight with Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Kendrick has been out since April 15 with an oblique strain. He did defensive work during the Phillies' road trip and has been taking outdoor batting practice at home this week.

Kendrick was off to a hot start when the oblique injury sent him to the DL. In 10 games, he went 13 for 39 (.333) with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs. He batted second all 10 games.

The Phillies are in a bad offensive funk and could use Kendrick's bat over Michael Saunders' right now. The Phils' 1-2 hitters were among the most productive in the majors in April, hitting close to .350 for the month. They're down to .282 on the season as Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera have slumped in May.

With Clay Buchholz likely out for the season and Saunders providing little offense so far, the Phillies' trio of offseason veteran additions has not panned out through two months.

Supplement-free Lane Johnson heaviest he's ever been, feels he has much to prove

Supplement-free Lane Johnson heaviest he's ever been, feels he has much to prove

It's only natural to have some reservations about Lane Johnson after he was suspended for 10 games last season for his second violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. One more positive test and the Eagles will lose their starting right tackle for two full years.

Fortunately, Johnson seems determined to avoid any future run-ins with the league. The 27-year-old changed his entire approach this offseason, cutting out negative influences or any other voices at all while preparing for the 2017 season.

"I just trained by myself back in Oklahoma," Johnson said after the Eagles' first full-team practice of OTAs on Tuesday. "Trained by myself and everything went good. I came back, my body weight is about 325, so I'm heavier than I've ever been. I feel in good shape, and I have a lot to prove, so it's a big year for me.

"I did everything by myself. There wasn't going to be any mishaps."

Two suspensions totaling 14 games later, Johnson has gained a healthy fear of being unknowingly steered toward an illegal supplement.

Johnson tested positive for PEDs before the season last year after taking a banned substance known as peptides and was eventually slapped with the full 10-game penalty after a lengthy appeal process. The fifth-year veteran always maintained peptides were not listed on the label of the offending supplement.

Johnson filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the players' association in November after the suspension was upheld. Its status is ongoing.

Johnson also served a four-game suspension in 2014.

When he's not in trouble with the league office, Johnson is a vital cog in the Eagles' offense. They went 5-1 with him and 2-8 without him last season.

"I feel like whenever I'm playing, I try to be the best right tackle in the NFL," Johnson said. "My deal is to just stay on the field, play a complete season, and I think it will be a big year for me."

Johnson isn't concerned about losing a competitive edge, physically or mentally, after dropping supplements altogether.

"I've always been the athlete that I am," Johnson said. "That's what I'll continue to prove. I'm gonna go play and show people what I can do."

Signed in January 2016 to a five-year contract extension worth $56 million, Johnson has plenty to prove. He was working out in place of 35-year-old left tackle Jason Peters, who wasn't at the start of OTAs, on Tuesday and is expected to one day replace the nine-time Pro Bowl selection permanently.

Despite his checkered past, it sounds like Johnson knows exactly what's on the line, which is why he chose to go it alone this offseason. The only person you can trust is yourself.

Then again, Johnson still has his vices, which might raise some eyebrows with the news he's up to 325 pounds — eight more than his listed weight.

"My big deal is cutting out the ice cream, the Ben & Jerry's late at night — the stuff you want to indulge in," Johnson said. "If you get me on an ice cream binge, it's not good."

The Eagles can probably deal with a little extra ice cream, just as long as Johnson remains committed to keeping dodgy supplements out of his body.