Philadelphia’s fans are notoriously critical and, as the Eagles mini-camp finished up, there were signs that the burst of initial excitement over Chip Kelly’s new regime was dissolving in a drizzle of worries. The only question is, how much of this worry is legitimate and how much is instinctive gloom-mongering by the fans who once booed Santa Claus?
1. Starting left tackle Jason Peters, ranked as the NFL’s best tackle when he last played in 2011, was arrested in Louisiana. For drugs, you ask? Domestic violence? Holding rooster fights?
No, for drag racing his white Camaro.
The second charge, fleeing arrest (by driving away at 100 mph), is a bit more serious, but understandable in someone who grew up watching Dukes of Hazzard reruns. (That’s just a guess, I don’t really know. But Peters is 30 and he drives a white Camaro. How can anyone be surprised that he drag races?)
It seems like kind of a quaint arrest here in the land of Jeremiah Masoli and Cliff Harris, but the racing was plenty stupid and dangerous, and the Eagles desperately need Peters as they attempt to reassemble an offensive line that was torn apart last year by injuries, especially Peters’. And while no one made a big deal about it at the time, Peters missed several of the Organized Team Activities (OTAs) this spring due to unnamed “personal reasons.” Those absences look a bit more worrisome after this arrest – especially after his decision to run from the police.
On the positive side, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland says that physically, you’d never know Peters had been injured, and center Jason Kelce and guard Todd Herremans are both looking good this spring after their injuries knocked them out last season. Evan Mathis went in for surgery this spring, but is already back, much earlier than expected.
Still, that’s a lot of injured linemen, and the Eagles can’t risk losing Peters to suspension or worse for entirely voluntary extra-curricular activities.
2. The press has figured that Kelly is serious about holding open competitions for positions, including quarterback. All they had to do was ask Bryan Bennett and Nate Costa if the more senior, experienced signal caller is guaranteed the starting job. The top Eagles bloggers are on board, including Sheil Kapadia at Birds 24/7, and Tommy Lawlor at IgglesBlitz.
Unfortunately, some of the players have not read that memo. Michael Vick told the press that Kelly should make a decision on quarterback before training camp begins. “Based on what?,” Chip responded. And DeSean Jackson backed him up.
Reaction was not good to Vick.
According to Kelly, it’s, “who gets the football team up and down the field, you know that’s the most important thing. It doesn’t have to be that he throws a prettier ball or all those things, there is a lot of different things. How do you manage a game, how do you secure the football? Are we not turning it over?”
Since Vick’s strongest suit is often said to be his powerful arm, as well as his running speed, and his major weakness is turnovers, those criteria may have been part of what made the incumbent quarterback sweat.
On the flip side, Tim McManus at Birds 24/7 argued that Vick’s comments, and DeSean Jackson’s for that matter, were blown out of proportion, honest answers to an inane question, and not a sign of impending mutiny. We can only hope. The always entertaining Mathis backed up Kelly, saying it’s too early to decide. In case you think Mathis is just a brown-nosing goody-two-shoes, he made headlines earlier this spring by tweeting a picture of himself peeing on a sign at an IRS office, and mocked Tim Tebow for his virginity.
Careful with his words, Mathis is not.
3. Finally, Sports Illustrated printed a rumor that the Eagles had offered the coaching job to Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M, better known as “the guy who coaches Johnny Football,” before naming Kelly.
A first-year college coach?
More importantly, who cares? The guy is not the coach, Kelly is.
No looking back.
Quote of the Day: “It doesn’t have to be that he throws a prettier ball… how do you secure the football? Are we not turning it over?” — Chip Kelly