Five Eagles Cutdown Takeaways
PHILADELPHIA - In the end, Matt Barkley versus Tim Tebow never really materialized after all.
The question whether Chip Kelly would take the better all-around quarterback in the ex-Southern Cal signal caller or lean toward the potential zone-read specialization of the immensely popular former Heisman Trophy winner was answered over the weekend with
Option C -- neither.
The weak-armed Barkley was sent packing to Arizona for a conditional seventh-round pick on Friday, a development that had the Tebow acolytes jumping for joy or at least Tebow-ing as their hero was finally back in the NFL. Except he wasn't back in the league as Kelly jettisoned the ultimate culture guy with a harsh message.
"We didn’t feel like he was good enough to be the three (third QB) right now," the coach said bluntly.
The bigger slap in the face was going on behind the scenes as the names being bandied about as Philadelphia's potential third quarterback, something definitely needed because of the significant injury histories of both Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez, were names like Christian Ponder and Matt Flynn.
Ponder, an abject failure in Minnesota, just lost out to the pedestrian Matt McGloin to be the backup in Oakland, and Flynn has already been cut twice in the preseason, although to my knowledge there is no truth to the rumor he's been placed on the FBI's 10-most-wanted list for stealing so much money in his previous NFL sojourns.
Assuming names like that, who haven't been in this system for weeks like Tebow or years like Barkley, are better options is telling.
"I think he really improved his throwing motion from when he was throwing a couple of years ago," Kelly said of Tebow. "He worked extremely hard on it and deserves a lot of credit for that. You know, I talked to him a little earlier today when we released him and I think he just needs to get more playing time; he needs to get out there and get actual reps because I think he has done a ton on his own from an individual basis, but it’s about playing the game. It’s taking that next step and now playing the game."
Actually, Tebow played about as well as he could against the Jets' deep reserves on Thursday but his fate was really sealed the week prior in Green Bay when he failed to convert a pair if two-point opportunities, his supposed place in this offense.
"He played well in that game, but it’s a compilation of the whole time," Kelly claimed. "As I said, it wasn’t just one game that was a make-or-break (game) and that if you play well in one game you are here. But he did play really well against the Jets.
"We looked at everything and then we just make the best decision on what we had to do for the Eagles."
GOODE DAY FOR SMITH
It's tough to walk away from a first-round pick after just one season even if you blame the selection on a guy who has been exiled to the other side of the building (former GM Howie Roseman).
Despite struggling with hamstring issues for much of the offseason work and again in training camp, the Eagles decided to hang onto Marcus Smith, probably at the expense of inside linebacker Najee Goode, who Kelly confirmed was the final cut.
Goode belongs in this league and was released after Philadelphia was unable to work out a trade for him. The move makes sense if only because the Eagles lack substantive depth at outside linebacker and are loaded on the inside, at least if Kiko Alonso and DeMeco Ryans are right.
"Yeah, it’s just difficult. With all linebackers, we have 10 on the roster. So, it’s a difficult position in terms of we probably had the most depth at that position," Kelly said. "That (Goode) was the toughest one. It was hard. Najee gave us everything he had. He worked extremely hard and was really productive, but we just couldn’t fit in an 11th linebacker."
THE HITTER TAKES THE BALL-HAWK
When it comes to safety, the Eagles chose the hitter, Jerome Couplin, over the special-teamer, Chris Prosinski, and the ball hawk, Ed Reynolds.
Of course those teams are all relative as Couplin isn't going to make you forget Brian Dawkins and Reynolds was never going to challenge Paul Krause for the all-time interception lead.
Prosinski is a legit plus player on special teams but has no real value as a base defender and the Eagles can only keep so many of those types of players (Bryan Braman and Chris Margaos on defense, and Seyi Ajirotutu on offense).
"We really like Jerome," Kelly said. I" think he’s really good in the run game. I think he fits – he’s a real tall, long defender and can really run very well. He’s an outstanding tackler and will really be able to contribute on special teams. We just felt he had the best upside at that position."
DENZEL'S TRAINING DAY
Cornerback is going to be an issue behind starters Byron Maxwell and Nolan Carroll, who have both looked more than solid.
Rookie Eric Rowe has taken a significant step backward is his development over the past few weeks and he hardly looks ready to hit the ground running on Week 1 in Atlanta. That leaves journeyman E.J. Biggers as the top nickel option with another freshman, undrafted free agent Denzel Rice beating out the tackling-deficient Jaylon Watkins for the final slot.
"We thought Denzel had a really good camp for us," Kelly said. "Actually, starting back in OTAs. He did a really nice job. I know myself, Cory (defensive backs coach Cory Undlin) and Billy (defensive coordinator Bill Davis) feel really comfortable with Denzel. I think he has a bright future and we are excited about having him."
ANDREWS RIDES VERSATILITY
The final offensive line spot game down to the versatile Josh Andrews over right-guard specific John Moffitt.
The reality for Moffitt, who was trying to kickstart his career after some serious off-field issues, was that he was only going to make the team by winning the starting job at RG over Andrew Gardner and he was unable to do that. The most important thing for backup offensive lineman in this league is versatility and Andrews can play any of the interior positions, making him a more valuable asset.
"Center-guard versatility," Kelly bluntly said when asked why Andrews was the guy. "(He is a) really explosive, big, stout player that can play multiple positions. He’s a smart guy. He really did a good job in terms of us developing him last year as a practice squad player. He has been with us going into his second year and has really come along.
"I don’t think it was anything that John did, I just think it was what Josh did. Josh played really well for us and has position versatility, which you need in a backup player."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen