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Chip Kelly, Eagles headed for nightmare

The Philadelphia Eagles are going to be a disaster in 2015. For now, the media and fans are entranced by the spell of head coach and front office guru Chip Kelly, who is moving through the NFL like a poker player with an unbeatable hand. Unfortunately for those in the city of Brotherly Love, it appears Kelly has folded a pair of jacks to play a two-seven off-suit.

The Eagles looked like a team that would contend for a playoff spot after missing out last year despite a winning mark. Philadelphia had quarterback Nick Foles returning from a broken clavicle and a host of talented players around him. Most importantly, there was continuity for a team that had won the NFC East in 2013 with Foles throwing 27 touchdowns against only two interceptions.

Instead, Kelly decided to completely start over. Before the free-agency period began on March 10, Kelly made the most stunning trade in recent league history by sending All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills to acquire inside linebacker Kiko Alonso. Alonso is coming off a torn ACL after a stellar rookie campaign in 2013, and also happened to play for Kelly at the University of Oregon.

Kelly then cut a handful of productive veterans in guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans, along with outside linebacker Trent Cole. While the moves were financially motivated, it leaves a trio of holes along the starting lineup which are yet to be filled. In free agency, Kelly loaded up on running back DeMarco Murray and corner Byron Maxwell. Murray was given a five-year, $40 million deal while Maxwell cashed in to the tune of six years and $63 million. Not bad for a guy who potentially was propped up by playing alongside Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas his entire career.

Yet, the most mystifying move of all was dealing Foles for Sam Bradford. Bradford, the 2010 first-overall selection, is coming off two consecutive years which were prematurely ended with torn ACLs. Even when healthy, Bradford has never been more than a mediocre starter who doesn’t take shots down the field. Yet, Kelly believes Bradford, who is on a one-year deal, gives the Eagles a better chance to win.

Philadelphia and Kelly could prove the doubters wrong, but it seems unlikely. The offense could be solid if Bradford stays upright, but the offensive line is severely downgraded from 2014. Additionally, the defense is better in some areas (corner and inside linebacker) but weaker in others (outside linebacker). Kelly seems to have moved around all the furniture and gotten rid of some of his best pieces, only for the sake of change.

If Kelly succeeds, he will be hailed as a genius. If he fails, it could be time for a return to college.

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