Wed. Jan 20th, 2021

The Philly Sports Cave

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Chip Kelly’s Success Depends On Him Being Right About His QBs

5 min read
Chip Kelly Philadelphia Eagles

Tim Sharp / Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles came to terms with free agent Tim Tebow on Monday and suddenly the hosts of heaven rejoiced with gladness and the skies opened up because the savior of the NFL had returned.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but if you replace ‘hosts of heaven’ with ‘national talking heads’ and ‘the skies opened up’ with ‘every media outlet everywhere mentioned it,’ that was pretty much exactly the reaction to Tebow’s glorious return to the NFL.

Every television, radio, online and print news outlet from Philadelphia to California and even some countries overseas, had something to say about the signing. Even USA Network’s Monday Night Raw got in on the action when wrestler Bo Dallas called fellow wrestler Roman Reigns, the “Tim Tebow of the WWE.” Needless to say, that was not intended as a compliment.

Of course, the return of Tebow, noted Pro-Life supporter, former Heisman winner, one-time playoff miracle worker, college football commentator and motivational Monday bringer, is in fact a story. But it’s only as big as the media makes it and with the calm before the storm of draft day lulling NFL audiences so much so that players choosing not to attend voluntary workouts becomes a top story, Tebow’s signing by the Eagles couldn’t have come at a better time.

But I’m really not here to rehash the crazy, sometimes controversial, opinions and theories on why Chip Kelly brought Tebow in. After all, it’s already been over 24 hours since the signing. Any completely original thought I may have had on the issue has already been stated, analyzed and probably beaten half to death.

Heck by the time SNL gets this story, they might not even have an original joke to write about it. Although, I will be watching this Saturday to see what they come up with, given that Tebow is literally the biggest story in the NFL right now.

All of the mocking aside, I won’t say Tebow in Philadelphia is a good or bad thing, at least not yet. It is however, an interesting and maybe mildly concerning one and here’s why.

Regardless of how Kelly and the team use him or if he even makes the opening day roster, Tebow represents the third member of an Eagles’ QB class whose biggest compliment has been, “well, at least they were good in college.”

No truer words have been spoken. Counting G.J. Kinne and Matt Barkley out of the equation for a moment, the Eagles have three QBs who were taken in the first round of an NFL draft, two of which were taken in the Top-5. No other team can say that.

Between the alma maters of the three, USC, Florida and Oklahoma, there is a 112-22 collegiate record which amounts to a winning percentage of 83.5 during the time Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford and of course Tebow, were there. This includes two BCS Championships, three BCS Championship appearances, three Rose Bowl wins and one Sugar Bowl win.

The trio also has between them, two Heisman awards, two Davey O’Brien awards (best NCAA quarterback), two Maxwell awards (best college football player in the country), countless player of the year trophies and first team all-conference and all-American designations, and various other accolades.

That all sounds great, fantastic even. But the rub is that, as phenomenal as Tebow, Bradford and Sanchez were in college, none have even come close to reaching that level of expectation and potential in the NFL. Sure, Tebow has a playoff win thanks to Matt Prater‘s leg, Sanchez reached back-to-back AFC Championships on the shoulders of the league’s best defense and Bradford was the 2010 Rookie of the Year because well, that class. But none of this is representation of what these guys were supposed to do.

Flash ahead to 2015. This will be seven years since Sanchez went pro and six for both Bradford and Tebow, and all three of them are considered major disappointments. They’ve been the butt (fumble) of many jokes regarding their ability to throw accurately, to adjust on the fly and to move in the pocket. Whether it be Tebow’s lack of arm, Bradford’s inability to stay on the field or Sanchez’s TD to Interception ratio, these guys have been brutally mocked.

And now, one of them is going to be the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Excuse me for thinking that is just a little cringe worthy.

But I’m not Coach Kelly. I couldn’t even begin to assume or judge his moves and the motives for making them at this point. I’m still in the “In Chip we Trust” camp for now and I’ll be there until at least the start of the season when this glorified experiment could go wrong.

At the heart of it, Kelly is a college coach and these are college quarterbacks so maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe the Eagles’ offense is going to feel familiar, comfortable even, to the guys who spent the best years of their football careers running it. Maybe it will make them better. Maybe, it will bring out their best. Maybe these guys aren’t, as this Sportsnation Meme suggests, representations of ‘peaked in college Rob Lowe.’

Maybe, Chip is just a mad genius who really thinks his system is good enough to turn garbage into gold, has-beens into must-sees, atrocious QBRs into playoff victories. Or maybe, none of what I said even matters because these guys are just insurance policies for Chip if he doesn’t manage to move up and get Marcus Mariota like so many have speculated.

I don’t know but I won’t waste my time with the guesswork.

All I can say is, for better or for worse, Tebow is here and barring said Mariota move, is likely going to be sticking around, because let’s face it, no one is as bad as Barkley. And Kelly’s running back heavy, wide receiver-lacking offense, that’s probably going to be sticking around too.

Maybe, we should all take a hint from the newest QB and get down on one knee though. Because if this does go horribly wrong, the Eagles are sure as anything going to need all of our prayers.

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