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Mariota? Foles? Kaepernick? Eagles QB situation fuzzy as draft approaches

With the NFL Draft quickly approaching (April 30), speculation surrounds Nick Foles and the Eagles quarterback position. While some fans continue to push for the Eagles to trade up and get Mariota, others claim Foles should get another shot. Here, Snapper sports writers Troy Losey Jr. and Mike Eshleman offer their takes on the matter.

Troy Losey Jr. and Mike Eshleman
Sports Writers

Troy’s Take

With all the recent talks about different quarterbacks being able to carry franchises, and younger quarterbacks winning Super Bowls, a lot has come up in speculation since the Super Bowl has ended. The Eagles are a team that needs to obviously get better at a few positions, but one that’s still being questioned is the quarterback position. Starter Nick Foles came into the 2014 year with a season that some talked about as “MVP-like.” Foles never won the MVP and nor did he win the fans over with his performances in 2014.

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He was a solid quarterback but was middle of the road when the offensive line began to get injured, and he was forced to make quick decisions that proved to be poor at times. The Eagles have considered getting a new, younger quarterback since Donovan McNabb left town, looking at key players such as Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers winning with their respective teams as inspiration.

Following up on a stellar campaign, Nick Foles was plagued by turnovers and an injured shoulder) (Photo courtesy USA Today)
Following up on a stellar campaign, Nick Foles was plagued by turnovers and an injured shoulder)
(Photo courtesy USA Today)

Now that Chip Kelly has been given the helm of coach and basic general manager, it is time to figure out what the Eagles really want to do with the future of their QB and their franchise. Many people project that they may trade Nick Foles for a mid-round pick to a team in dire need such as Tennessee or St. Louis.

Other people think they should trade the whole show for Marcus Mariota, the star quarterback from the Oregon Ducks who Kelly recruited while coaching there. The main point not made yet is about a quarterback that has shown at times he can compete at the next level and possibly thrive in the Eagles offense.

Colin Kaepernick was a rising quarterback in a run-heavy offense for San Francisco that was led to three straight NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance. The 49ers have been linked to possibly trading or even releasing Kaepernick based on how much they have to pay him in the next coming years of his contract.

The always mobile Colin Kaepernick could fit nicely into the Eagles offensive scheme. (Photo courtesy Reuters)
The always mobile Colin Kaepernick could fit nicely into the Eagles offensive scheme.
(Photo courtesy Reuters)

Kaepernick has shown at times that he can thrive in an offense-based environment around short passing and speedy offense: why not try this in Philadelphia? Chip Kelly is obviously looking for the answer in Philly, and having a pocket passer run his offense for a third straight year would be a joke, giving the Eagles no shot at Super Bowl aspirations for the first time ever. A lot of fans are growing weary of the Eagles’ chances since they have not won a NFL Championship since 1960.

Kaepernick is a risk, but one that could be a home run if he runs the Eagles offense to perfection. There is no other player who could make the run in that offense that Kap has a chance to do. The Eagles love to push the ball and run it with someone who is mobile, and has success with his legs before his arm. It would be great to see this and could give the Philly faithful some actual faith in the Eagles for 2015, and not hope for just a playoff berth like this year.

The league continues to adjust to their offense and get better, but they need to improve and adjust with it. Kapernick would be an upgrade over Foles, and has the playoff experience to help this bunch get to the next level. He has beaten the powerhouses that are Seattle and Green Bay in the playoffs.

We have seen what he can do, especially when he ran all over Green Bay in the postseason, and also when he came within a touchdown of winning a Super Bowl against the Ravens. The Eagles need to set their hopes on something that is possible without giving up so many assets; though Mariota would be solid, Kapernick is ready to go, and has proved that he has the skills to play at the next level. Hopefully Chip Kelly is thinking the exact thing I am.

Mike’s Take

If you ask me, it’s never too early to start speculating on the upcoming NFL offseason and even the next regular season. With that being said, the Super Bowl has come and gone, and the Patriots are on top of the NFL world once again, which is somewhere the Philadelphia Eagles have (sadly) never been. However, many Eagle fans have reason to be optimistic about the next season and beyond now that coach Chip Kelly has full control over player personnel decisions.

With Chip Kelly having full control, he has final say over all roster moves, including free agency, the NFL Draft and final pre-season cuts. The Eagles received some very inconsistent quarterback play during the 2014 NFL season, with Nick Foles being turnover prone before a collarbone injury ended his season. Backup quarterback Mark Sanchez performed admirably, but also had his fair share of hardships as the Eagles missed the playoffs. Many Eagles fans will argue that the quarterback position is the reason the Eagles did not make it to the postseason and beyond, but there were many other factors that led to that. We’ll get to that later. For now, let’s discuss a quarterback that coach Kelly surely has his eye on in the 2015 draft now that he has full control.

Former Oregon Duck Marcus Mariota set the NCAA on fire this year, posting a ridiculous 57 total touchdowns (42 passing and 15 rushing), and winning the coveted Heisman Memorial Trophy Award. He was not able to bring home the College Football Playoff Championship, as his Ducks lost to Ohio State, but that shouldn’t hurt the talented quarterback’s draft stock. He has since declared for the 2015 NFL Draft and, as of now, is expected to go no. 1 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Of course, Mariota and Kelly have a close relationship, as Kelly coached Mariota during his early seasons at Oregon before bolting to the NFL to take the Eagles head coaching gig. Due to these ties, there has been tons of speculation that Kelly and the Eagles have soured on Nick Foles after the rough season and will make a power play to draft Mariota.

Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will undoubtedly go at the top of the draft. (Photo courtesy CBSSports.com)
Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will undoubtedly go at the top of the draft.
(Photo courtesy CBSSports.com)

To me, this just seems like a desperation move. Many Eagles fans tend to forget that Nick Foles put together one of the greatest seasons ever seen just a year ago in 2013. He replaced starter Michael Vick Oct. 6, 2013 against the New York Giants and never looked back. Foles tossed 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions and posted an absurd 119.2 quarterback rating while leading the Eagles to the playoffs during Kelly’s first year as coach. The season included a ridiculous seven touchdown pass game against the Oakland Raiders, tying an NFL record.

It was a completely different story to start the 2014 season for Foles, as he struggled mightily with turnovers. During his time as starter in 2014, the Eagles were dealing with many injuries to the offensive line, often leaving him with barely any time in the pocket. Throwing Foles aside for an unproven rookie just because Mariota played for Kelly at Oregon would be a poor decision. Nick Foles deserves another chance to make it known that this quarterback job is his.

In addition to this, the cost to move up in the draft would essentially require a king’s ransom. The Eagles moving up to no. 1 to draft Mariota would most certainly involve multiple future first round draft picks and even feature running back LeSean McCoy. This would likely be the cost to move from the #20 pick to the #1 pick. This move would be entirely too risky, and Kelly should not mortgage the future on one guy.

An example would be back in 2012 when the Redskins traded multiple 1st-round picks to the Rams in order to move up to the no. 2 pick and draft Robert Griffin III. So far, this move has backfired for the Redskins, as Griffin III has dealt with multiple injuries and has been the focus of some negative media.

Instead, focusing on improving the secondary, which was a glaring weakness in 2014, would be the smartest route to take. If the Eagles focus on improving the secondary and filling some holes on the offensive line, there should be no reason why Nick Foles and Chip Kelly can’t take the Eagles to the playoffs and beyond, and maybe even bring the coveted Lombardi Trophy to the great city of Philadelphia.