A lot of Philly fans are still banging the drum for Steve Spagnuolo to enter Chip Kelly's wheelhouse as defensive coordinator… Well, Spags is available— but his street cred is currently in decline…
Some Eagles fans are intrigued about a possible reunion with Spags, the Jim Johnson protege.
As Jordan Raanan of New Jersey.com states so well, the question isn't whether he can coach. The Giants won a Super Bowl just five years ago with his running their defense. Obviously, he's good enough to win with as defensive coordinator. The question is whether he's a good fit with Chip Kelly and the Eagles.
Why he's a good fit: Experience – Spagnuolo's run a defense on his own in New York that was successful. Kelly can hand the defense over to Spags and not worry about having to micro-manage that side of the ball. Instead, Kelly can fully concentrate on shaping his warp-speed offense to the demands and rigors of the NFL. The Giants were Top 10 in total defense both Spagnuolo's seasons there. He learned under the great Jim Johnson. Kelly wouldn't have to worry much about the defense.
Aggression – The only thing we know for sure about the defense Kelly hopes to run is that he wants it to be aggressive. Kelly emphatically specified this during his introductory press conference. Well, Spags is aggressive. He likes to blitz and bring men from all over the field. In his first season with the Giants, Spags' defense led the NFL with 53 sacks. They were sixth in sacks the following year even without Michael Strahan (retired) and Osi Umenyiora (knee). Spagnuolo's aggression would likely be attractive to Kelly.
Eagles History – Spagnuolo has worked in Philadelphia before. He feels at home in the city. He knows the demands of the owner, general manager and the fans. It wouldn't take him long to assimilate into the working environment at the NovaCare Complex.
Why he's not a good fit: Coaching Staff – The Eagles have already (reportedly) assembled a defensive coaching staff. That almost certainly means they have a chosen defensive coordinator (Ed Donatell) in place, but can't name him until after the Super Bowl. If that's not the case, sound the alarms. Hiring someone like Spagnuolo and then sticking him with a bunch of coaches whose teaching techniques and personalities don't mesh with his would be a disaster waiting to happen. Just ask Juan Castillo. It's sticking a square coach into a round coaching vacancy. Or sticking Castillo with Jim Washburn….
Scheme – It's been hinted by people in and around the Eagles that they'd like to run a 3-4 scheme. Spagnuolo is a 4-3 coach. That's the reason Sean Payton and the Saints fired him on Thursday. They too are switching to a 3-4 defense. The Eagles are not going to hire Spagnuolo to run a 3-4 system.
Recent Failure – Let's be honest, the Saints' defense was an absolute disaster last season. They didn't just finish last in the league in total defense, they finished last by a mile. They allowed 57 more yards per game than any other team. That's awful. The NFL is a constantly evolving Darwinian environment. It's possible the Jim Johnson/Spags attacking philosophy has reached its expiration date. Unlikely at this point, but possible.
If Kelly wants to run a 3-4 defense, there are plenty of experienced, capable coaches available. Eric Mangini is one that comes to mind. Ed Donatell even makes more sense if that's the case. But if Kelly is still open to any system and staff, then — and only then — would Spagnuolo likely be an option.
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Aaron Torres recently wrote a piece about how much Chip Kelly will be missed by college football fans now that he is head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. I have to admit, I hadn't thought much about that angle, but Philly's gain could be considered college football's loss.
Aaron Torres writes a general sports blog for Bloguin.com…
The essence of Aaron's article is that one of the best coaches in the game walked out the back door on an emerging dynasty at Oregon.
In terms of great college coaches leaving the game, it barely registers as a 2.0 on the Mark Richter scale. Understand that it was just a few short years ago that Aaron Torres spent weeks wrestling with the idea that Jim Harbaugh would coach anywhere other than Stanford, fully expecting him to return to his alma mater at Michigan before he eventually pulled a 180 and headed off into the NFL sunset instead. Same with Pete Carroll, who had a multi-year song-and-dance with the NFL before eventually he too took the plunge with Seattle in early 2010. This past off-season he speculated on Bill O’Brien and Brian Kelly, Doug Marrone and for a minute, David Shaw as well.
But Chip Kelly?
Torres writes: "When we found out Kelly was leaving, I was stunned at how many people who care so deeply about college football— analysts, fans, Oregon fans, whoever— were simply apathetic to his departure to the pro's. No one was necessarily happy to see him gone. But they weren’t devastated either."
"Me on the other hand, well man, I was crushed. This was one of the great coaches of my lifetime, a true genius in a sport where the term gets thrown around entirely too loosely. And now he’s gone to the NFL, to try his hand with Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson, and to try regain control of a locker room, franchise and city that soured on Andy Reid a long time ago. Will Chip Kelly’s system work in the NFL? I don’t know. But what I do know is college football simply won’t be the same without him."
"Whatever the case, like many geniuses, Kelly’s true greatness won’t be felt until long after he’s gone from the college game, and running up the score on Monte Kiffin in Dallas, instead of Los Angeles. "
"As Kelly gets set to head to the NFL, he will of course be remembered at Oregon for his system, the same system which most doubt will work in the pros. I’m not an “NFL guy,” and by no means do I know know if it will or not. I just know that if Kelly gets half as much out of his players as he did at Oregon, then the Eagles will be Super Bowling within a few years. Understand that for Chip Kelly, his players didn’t make his system. His system made them."
"Remember that Kelly not only won an average of 11.5 games in four years at Oregon, but did it with virtually a different cast of characters every season. This program wasn’t about one player or even a truly great group of players taking the team to new heights, but instead Kelly getting more out of the sum of his parts, than the parts were truly worth themselves."
"In four seasons Kelly had three different regular starting quarterbacks (four if you include a couple spot starts from Bryan Bennett) and three different leading receivers as well. Not to mention that when LaMichael James left after three 1,500-yard seasons last winter, Kenjon Barner showed up and proved out with 1,700 yards rushing himself in 2012. Had Kelly stayed, I suspect that whether it was Byron Marshall, De’Anthony Thomas or someone else, the next guy would’ve put up strikingly similar numbers as James and Barner did before him."
"And really, that’s what incredible about this whole run for Kelly. Whether it was Darron Thomas and LaMichael James or Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner, he never needed the five-star, elite, can’t miss prospects to win games. When one formerly obscure three-star recruit left, the next one filled in. Understand that in his four years at Oregon, Kelly had exactly one class finish in the Top 10 in Rivals.com’s recruiting rankings (No. 9 in 2011), and the seniors on this year’s team were part of the 34th ranked class in 2009. That 34th ranked class also went 4-0 against USC's No. 2 ranked class nationally in their four years in Eugene."
"Beyond that (and admittedly, I don’t follow recruiting particularly closely), I can only think of three players who arrived at the school as nationally known commodities under Chip Kelly’s watch. There was Lache Seastrunk, a five-star running back out of Texas, who finally found success in 2012…at Baylor. There was De’Anthony Thomas, whose best asset is as a brilliant return man, and who was recruited by most schools (rightfully) as a cornerback. And there’s Arik Armstead who arrived last year as one of the nation’s top defensive tackle prospects, and played sparingly as a true freshman this past season."
"Beyond them, Kelly didn’t recruit great players, so much as great players were developed in his system."
"That’s also why I’m also glad to say that I at least got one chance to see one of Kelly’s teams in person before he took his talents to Philadelphia. It came this past season at USC, when Oregon rolled into the LA Coliseum ranked No. 2 in the country and rolled out with a 62-51 win over the Trojans that wasn’t really as close as the final score indicated."
"In that game, Oregon’s offense was everything I hoped it’d be and then some. They played at a blinding speed, to the point that as I wrote the next day, if you put your head down for one second to check your phone, there was a chance you not only missed a play, but a touchdown as well."
"To the Ducks credit, they remained one step ahead of USC the entire game. They blistered USC with pace at the beginning, slowed down the tempo after they’d gained the lead, and despite a popular misconception, they played power football at times also. On one drive in the third quarter, Oregon converted two fourth down conversions by simply running the ball right at USC, and when the Ducks scored later that drive, the game was unofficially over."
"And in the end, it all came back to Kelly, who was equal parts button-pusher and puppet-master that night. He knew what to call and when to call it, and for ‘SC’s fans and coaches, it was a lot like pulling teeth. Every time the Trojans had Oregon backed down or in a corner, Kelly had an answer, an answer which moved the chains, kept the drive alive and eventually resulted in points on the scoreboard."
"It was true genius at work, literal football poetry in motion. Whether college football fans realize it now or not, he will be missed."
Hey, from Aaron Torres' lips to God's ears!
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A quick Senior Bowl recap courtesy of our friends at the Music City Miracles scouting department:
The game was the annual glorified 7-on-7 scrimmage with all the rules that hamstring the defense from going all out. For the second time in three years, a FSU QB was named Game MVP. There were some prospects that stood out today however. Also, an E.J. Manuel-led team actually beat a Mike Glennon-led team for a change. The South won the game, 21-16.
Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher continued to show that he will challenge Luke Joeckel throughout the process as the top tackle in the draft, although Fisher was pushed around on a couple of plays.
UCLA RB Jonathan Franklin showed excellent vision and patience while going for a team high 41 yards on 5 carries.
UCLA DE Datone Jones had a good game, carried over from having a great week.
Washington CB Desmond Trufant was lights out once again and made a touchdown saving hustle tackle on the opening kickoff.
Texas WR Marquise Goodwin continued his good form in the game after a great week of practice. He has that kind of speed that would make Chris Johnson blush.
Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib showed why he needs a lot of work. He threw an ugly telegraphed pick to UGA S Bacarri Rambo.
SE La CB Robert Alford had a great game, picking off Zac Dysert and also running back a kickoff for 95 yards that set up the South's first touchdown.
BYU's Ezekiel Ansah was all over the place and made great plays. He's not worth a top 10 pick because he's just too raw but he showed flashes of what could be.
FIU S Jonathan Cyprien had a good game that should boost his stock even further after a good week.
Florida RB Mike Gillislee went 10 carries for 46 yards. He showed well in practice and gameday.
FSU QB E.J. Manuel was the best QB in the game, He led the team to all of its points. Manuel threw a beautiful touch pass to Alabama TE Michael Williams for a touchdown in the first quarter. He earned MVP honors like his predecessor at FSU, Christian Ponder.
Cal C Brian Schwenke and Kentucky G Larry Warford stole the show again.
Oklahoma QB Landry Jones continued to submarine his stock with a horrible game.
Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson had a good game stats-wise but he was busy playing the role of Captain Checkdown aka Sam Bradford again.
Virginia OT Oday Aboushi had a bad week and got abused during the game as well. He needs to make the move to Guard now.