Brady, Ryan, Flacco, Kaepernick. Those are the four remaining quarterbacks left in the NFL Playoffs. And in the AFC, Joe Flacco is showing that he could be a step away from being an elite quarterback in the NFL. Last year, Flacco’s line in the AFC Championship game was 22 of 36 for 306 yards, two touchdowns, and only one interception. Tom Brady has already demonstrated time and time again that he has outstanding acumen for a quarterback. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons exuded incredible poise against the Seattle Seahawks today winning their first postseason game. Kaepernick is an exciting, yet raw, quarterback that is exceeding expectations and breaking a record set by Michael Vick against the Rams back in 2004 (Vick had only eight carries for 119 yards). And then there’s Nick Foles. Eagles fans, and whichever coach is going to interview for this head coaching job, want to know if Nick Foles has done enough this season to go into the next as the clear cut starting quarterback. Considering the overall lack of talent at the quarterback position in this years draft class, the Eagles might want to consider doing what the 49ers did in 2010 and go after one of the coveted offensive linemen. The 49ers scored Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, and Navarro Bowman. Imagine if Taylor Mays had been half the NFL player he was at USC, because he was also drafted in that same year by the team.
The best part of watching up and coming teams is knowing that in the NFL, if you successfully hit on mid-high round draft picks you can rebuild in an unbelievably quick manner. For the Eagles, some building blocks that are there for the new coach include the 4th overall pick along with seven other draft picks, although the extra pick is from the blockbuster Moises Fokou trade. But there’s also a lot of talent that has not developed the way we wanted; as a result, the Eagles are going to need to hit on both the draft, off-season, free agency, and pre-season. Rob Ninkovich was drafted in the 5th round (135th) by the New Orleans Saints. After two seasons in Miami where he spent more time in the inactive list than on the field, he went to New England has contributed mightily to their success on defense in the past three seasons. Andy Reid had a significant contribution of acquired talent and how they would be implemented into the team’s philosophy…so one would assume that the new coach has at least some determination of how the draft will be conducted. The key will be finding those hidden gems such as Vontaze Burfict went undrafted and has found his way to being an every down linebacker under Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, over the past few seasons, Eagles fans have become accustomed to hearing names such as Andy Studebaker, C.J. Gaddis, and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim in the later rounds of the draft. Having said that, General Manager Howie Roseman has seen some increasingly good later round picks since 2010. Riley Cooper, Stanley Havili, Jason Kelce, and Bryce Brown have been contributed offensively, with Kelce earning the starting role from former incumbent Jamaal Jackson.
If led by a defensive minded head coach, the acquisition of an established offensive coordinator would be paramount. If an offensive coach (ie. Jay Gruden, Bruce Arians, Brian Billick) is hired then determinations will need to be made of who to bring in and how to utilize the expensive “talent” we have on the roster. The best news about someone like Brian Billick, whom I believe will not be hired as the coach, is that it’s the right philosophy to attack if you’re Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman. Billick was a strong defensive coach, but his rushing attack was consistently in the top half of the league (including four times in five years, 2000-2004) and were led by technically and fundamentally sound quarterbacks. While Trent Dilfer might not come across as the top quarterback of a decade or month, he led his team by playing smart sound football. Nick Foles can accomplish that type of security and accomplishment if he is able to be coached properly. Ultimately Foles and the next regime will need the assistance of the other 52 men on the roster if they want to be competitive in their own division. We’ll worry about the rest of the conference (and AFC) once we demonstrate cohesiveness and chemistry.