Philadelphia Eagles: A Quarterback Away…Like Everyone Else


We can (and will) analyze every aspect of the Philadelphia Eagles:

Is Chip Kelly making the right moves?

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Can oft-injured players stay healthy to help the Eagles win?

Will the team miss Jeremy Maclin’s production?

Is there enough depth along the offensive line?

How on Earth will this secondary find two more starters before the season begins?

All worthwhile questions.

With about a million different answers.

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One thing they all have in common (besides the fact that we won’t know the answers until we see a product on the field:)

They are completely and entirely meaningless unless the Eagles have a franchise quarterback under center.

It’s a quarterback league.

Heck, it’s a quarterback world.

And we’re all (even Chip Kelly) just living in it.

We can argue all day about what makes a franchise quarterback a franchise quarterback. Or about what constitutes an elite player at the position. Let’s not.

Instead, let’s just look for the last time a team won the Super Bowl without what they perceived as their franchise quarterback under center.

It wasn’t 2014. That was Tom Brady.

Or 2013. The Seahawks, no doubt, believe they have their franchise guy in Russell Wilson.

Not 2012. Joe Flacco received the largest QB contract in NFL history at the time following his Super Bowl win. Clearly, he’s their franchise.

What about 2011? Nope. Hate on Eli Manning all you like. Deny that he’s elite. But there’s no question that he was, in 2011, the foundational franchise quarterback of the Giants.

Jan 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback

Aaron Rodgers

(12) looks to throw in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s safe to say 2010 is pretty clear. Aaron Rodgers defines franchise quarterback.

Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli again, Peyton, another Big Ben, and a couple of Tom Bradys.

That brings us clear-on back to the end of the 2002 NFL season.

Brad Johnson led the Buccaneers to a title despite certainly not being their ‘franchise’ quarterback.

There we have it. A dozen years ago. Chip Kelly was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire. And a team without a franchise passer won a title.

Now, don’t get me wrong, please. I don’t think Chip Kelly doesn’t know this. I’m sure that he does.

I am also well aware that it’s much more easily said than done.

This article is not an argument that the Eagles ought to get themselves a franchise quarterback: That would be silly.

This is an acknowledgment that, until they do, all the rest is moot.

Since the Eagles are too good to land a clear-cut franchise guy (Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning) and not stable enough at the position to nurse one along (Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young)… options are limited:

Option one: He’s on the roster. Let’s assume it’s not Matt Barkley. Please, can we assume that? And although I like Mark Sanchez more than most, I readily admit that his ceiling is as a reliable back-up and stop-gap starter.

Can Sam Bradford be that guy?

If healthy: Yes. Bradford has every tool. Including the work-ethic and thoughtful approach. The arm. The ability to read defenses. All of it. He was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason. And that reason is entirely obvious looking at his tape. Even while he’s struggling to succeed in a perpetually broken Rams offense.

What Bradford lacks is health. And he lacks it in a big way. And until he’s suited up for sixteen games there is no way that the Eagles can honestly believe that he’s their franchise-guy.

Nov 28, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) scrambles away from pressure by the Stanford Cardinal during the second half of the game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Option two: He’s in the draft. I only see two players in this draft that have the skill-set and upside to be franchise quarterbacks in Chip Kelly’s offense (Yes, Chip Kelly does have an offense. And, no, it’s not designed to be bent and transformed to fit whatever talents a certain player brings to the table. No matter what Chip tells us.)

Marcus Mariota is the perfect candidate: Most of his weaknesses seem to disappear when applied to Chip Kelly’s system and he has, by every account, the kind of attitude and work ethic to reach his full potential. But, as rumors swirl this time of year, folks like Ron Jaworski (via Tim McManus of think he could be the first player drafted. No matter how badly the Eagles want or need Mariota… if the Buccaneers have settled on him as the pick? No one else is getting him.

Brett Hundley possesses the requisite physical skills. And has been impressive in how he presents himself and talks about the game. Problem being? He’s worked his way into the late first/early second. He’d be a tough sell at #20 for a team that has just traded a lot for a quarterback and has needs at other positions and there’s very little chance he lasts until #52.

Option three: This isn’t the year.

This is the option the Eagles are most likely to explore: Build a team, give Sam Bradford a year to prove that “option one” is a reality, and, if necessary, evaluate all the scenarios that will open up in 2016.

The fact of the matter is that there are only a handful of people alive, at any given time, with everything it takes to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. And even fewer of those people find the right systems and coaches and are surrounded by the right players to make it all fall into place.

If you pick No. 1… there’s no guarantee.

If you pick  No. 20… there’s no guarantee.

If you trade for Sam Bradford… there’s no guarantee.

If you acquire Nick Foles… there’s no guarantee.

If you ‘mortgage the future’ to land Marcus Mariota… there’s no guarantee.

There’s one guarantee:

You’ll be watching someone else hoist the Lombardi trophy if you haven’t got a franchise quarterback.

Pete Townshend wrote:

“They call me the seeker
I been searchin low and high
I wont get to get what I’m after
Till the day I die”

A lot of Eagles fans know the feeling.

Next: Eagles 5 Best Offseason Moves

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