The news that Bill Lazor moves from quarterback's coach here to offensive coordinator in Miami is not surprising. Lazor did a fine job working with the quarterbacks in 2013 and, clearly, he meshed with Nick Foles. Lazor is a meticulous coach who will do a good job in Miami.
Now the question is who Chip Kelly brings in to replace Lazor. No doubt Kelly is one of those coaches who has long-range plans and who anticipates movement from his staff, so he will have an answer when he's ready to make the decision.
It's a compliment to Kelly and to the Eagles that after just one season, Lazor moves from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in Miami. On-field success means everything, and in this results business the Eagles offense achieved so much in 2013. We remember how Andy Reid's early coaching staffs were raided, and how Reid had answers in the plan of succession. Eventually, though, the loss of so many coaches seemed to catch up with the Eagles in the latter years with Reid in Philadelphia.
So Kelly has to find the right man to coach the quarterbacks and who shares his vision for the offense and for how the quarterbacks must perform. The chemistry with the new coach and the quarterbacks is clearly a key component, and you figure that Kelly long ago anticipated Lazor's potential for moving on. Kelly hired a young, aggressive and very bright coaching staff. It didn't take long for the rest of the league to take notice of just how good this staff is.
- The Pro Bowl is going to have a nice Eagles flavor with running back LeSean McCoy, quarterback Nick Foles and offensive guard Evan Mathis taking part. All three will greatly enjoy the experience. McCoy has been there before and understands the process and the benefits of being around the rest of the league's top players. For Foles and Mathis, the initial trip to Honolulu is one to cherish. We'll have complete coverage next week here.
- Mel Kiper, Jr. has his first mock draft available at ESPN.com and, drumroll please, he has the Eagles going offense with the 22nd overall selection in the first round, taking Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Says Kiper: "I'd consider this more of a 'best player available' pick than an outright need, but Benjamin would fill a distinctive role for the Eagles. Riley Cooper has decent size, but doesn't create separation with speed (and is a free agent), and DeSean Jackson is exceptionally quick still, but lacks a physical presence. Benjamin combines some of both, with a huge frame for a wide receiver at near 6-5 and a lean 230-plus pounds. He possesses not just speed, but a lot of change-of-direction burst. He can simply overwhelm defenders and make plays, and would be a nice weapon for Chip Kelly."
Nobody really knows, of course. The draft is so many months away. But the point that Kiper makes is a valid one. The Eagles need to go with the best player on their board, not a player to fill a position need. It could be any number of positions, so it's juicy that wide receiver is the first position mentioned in an offseason that could include several other positions in the various mock drafts.
- And let me add this about the offense: While understanding that the defense is going to get some attention, and perhaps a lot of it, when the Eagles add personnel, the offense is not going to be ignored. Don't just assume that the offense is going to be as potent, if not more, by leaving the personnel alone. I truly expect the Eagles to challenge as much of the roster as they are able in the months ahead.
- Some candidates to be "most improved" in 2014? You can pretty much take the entire 2013 draft class, and in particular the top three selections -- offensive tackle Lane Johnson, tight end Zach Ertz and defensive lineman Bennie Logan -- but how about safety Earl Wolff? He needs to have a big offseason. Wolff needs to get into the best shape of his life, add some strength and build his body to withstand the rigors of the physical NFL. He was making nice progress until his knee injury. Safety is a position to look at as far as upgrading, and a big step forward from Wolff would be a great boost.
- Looking for backup offensive linemen? Where do Allen Barbre and Dennis Kelly fit into the equation? How about Matt Tobin, who appears to be an athletic talent at either tackle position? It will be interesting to see how Jeff Stoutland develops those players and how they work into the offensive line picture in the spring and summer.
- Lazor is not the only member of Chip Kelly's staff who is moving on. Best of luck to Erik Chinander, who is returning to Oregon to coach the outside linebackers. Chinander was the assistant defensive line coach under Jerry Azzinaro and players like defensive end Fletcher Cox praised Chinander's work. There is no word on who will take Chinander's role.