PHOENIX -- Nobody knows nuthin', and that is something the national media freely admit when discussing the Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly. A flurry of moves in March makes the Eagles, they say, the most fascinating team to watch in the NFL.
The NFL's Annual Meeting, 2015, opened with some action on Monday here and while we wait on Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie and head coach Chip Kelly to address the media -- and believe me, the media world waits -- the story in the early going for Eagles fans was the way the national media viewed the flurry of moves made at the onset of free agency two weeks ago.
It was fast and it was furious for the Eagles, and even more than that was the *way *the team did its business: Shedding known names and valuable veteran contributors, trading organizational all-timers, making bold moves out of the blue that nobody saw coming. As the national media saw it, this was and is unprecedented stuff, a vision that only Chip Kelly could see coming.
The leading voice on NFL coverage, Peter King from MMQB.com and Sports Illustrated, again made a comparison he opened last year: Kelly is the modern-day wheeler and dealer who conjures the name of a despised Eagles rival, former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson.
"What I find, that I just can't get away from, is that those two guys are two peas in a pod," King said. "They are so similar. They basically are all about doing what you believe in and not caring what the outside world thinks about what you are doing. He clearly has a vision. I applaud him for having the guts to look at his team and say, 'We're good, but I don't know if we're great as we're presently constituted and I'm going to try to be great.' "
That was the general theme from the handful of media members questioned. What are the Eagles doing? What is the plan? Here is a sample of what the media, from the national perspective, think about Kelly and the Eagles heading into the April 30-May 2 NFL draft and beyond ...
Herman Edwards, ESPN: "If a coach loves a player and he wants that guy and has a chance to go out and get him, that's what he needs to do. Chip wanted Sam Bradford and now he's got him, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he does in that system. He's got to be healthy and stay healthy, but I think Chip has shown that he has a pretty good eye for knowing what he wants. All of these changes that he's made, that's just Chip Kelly. He wants his guys. That's what this is all about."
Sal Paolantonio, ESPN: "Chip Kelly is unique, no doubt about that. He's got his vision. I think it's going to take some time for it all to come together, so it's only fair to wait before we pass judgment. He's made some bold moves and he's taking risks. It's almost unprecedented to have this kind of roster overhaul in one two-week period in the offseason."
Steve Wyche, NFL Network: "Everyone thinks, 'Oh, Chip has lost his mind getting rid of all of these veterans, but I'm one of these guys who thinks, 'Hey, the Eagles haven't won a Super Bowl.' If he doesn't like the look of his roster and the way his personnel shapes up, he's going to make changes. This happens all the time, but it happened in Philadelphia in such a short time span and was so radical that it shocked people. He traded LeSean McCoy and people are like, 'Does Chip think he's the Emperor because he's got personnel control?' Then it settles in. He didn't want Nick Foles as his quarterback so he went out and got Sam Bradford. OK. Take a chance on a guy you think is better. Go out and get DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews at running back. Two studs. Now they've got a three-horse stable at running back that most teams would love to have. The defense has gotten better, at least on paper, with Byron Maxwell at cornerback and Kiko Alonso at linebacker. Alonso is a playmaker when he's healthy. I'm not sure a lot of people know a lot about Alonso, but if he's healthy he's going to be a huge addition to that defense."
Ian Rapoport, NFL Network: "It's fascinating. I can't remember a situation where a team has done more things that make you go, 'Wow.' The league isn't like this. There aren't random blockbuster trades made in the middle of the day during the offseason in the NFL. For a lot of people, me included, it's taken a while to process. What does this all mean? They trade LeSean McCoy and it doesn't make sense at first and then they bring in DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews – Ryan Mathews is great and tough as nails and I think will be really, really productive – and it makes sense. The Eagles are forcing us to not evaluate what's going on one move at a time. We have to sit back and wait for the bigger picture. We haven't seen the ending and we don't really know. I'm fascinated by the whole thing, the whole approach. What do we actually know about this team?"
Jason LaCanfora, CBS Sports NFL Insider: "I think you have to view it as a work in progress. I don't know that anyone knows what Chip still has up his sleeve. I don't think he has played all of his cards yet, whether it's moving up for Marcus Mariota (Oregon's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback), when it's flipping Bradford for something else, whether it's some other draft-day trade that nobody else has thought of yet, I don' know. I know he's always looking and that he's always looking for a solution and finding value and efficiency where others don't see it. I was baffled by some of what he did – investing more dollars into the running back position is a question mark to me – but then you kind of understand the plan. Clearly they're trying to fix the defense, clearly he has a vision outside of the norm and I'm as interested in seeing what they do as anybody."
Isn't that what we all think? The picture has not yet had its final brushstroke, and everyone knows it. The world has taken notice, though, and is holding off on its final grade.
"It's going to take until the roster is complete and we have a sense of what the team is all about in September," King said. ""I think they're a better team … but I don't think the Eagles secondary right now is fixed. It's better, but is it fixed? I don't think so. The Eagles, as they're constituted right now, are still going to have to outscore people to play deep into January. I don't look at their defense as impenetrable and I still look at their secondary as having some pockmarks."
Blemished, flawed, incomplete, with many more chapters to come. Everyone is watching. What will Kelly and the Eagles do next?