There has been a lot of speculation about the Eagles’ interest in Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
More specifically, there has been a lot of speculation about Chip Kelly’s interest in Mariota.
Kelly recruited Mariota to Oregon and coached him there. What would Kelly be willing to give up to forge a reunion with his old quarterback?
Perhaps a better question is whether the Eagles can offer enough to snag Mariota. The Eagles have the 20th pick in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. That will likely be far too late to draft Mariota. The Eagles may have to move up so high in the draft to get Mariota that, even if they can get a team to accept an offer, the cost of doing so becomes prohibitively expensive.
Fans and media members – who should know better – have speculated that Mariota’s stock will drop due to Oregon’s loss to Ohio State in the national championship game. The theory is that Mariota will drop far enough in the draft, possibly between seventh and 10th, that the Eagles can move up to get him without mortgaging the farm.
The truth is that one game won’t significantly affect Mariota’s stock. Personnel directors watch countless hours of tape. One game, unless it’s unusually spectacular or awful, is unlikely to sway judgments based on tons of tape and workouts.
A better rationale for Mariota sliding a few spots in the draft is that some of the teams near the top of the draft have more pressing needs at other positions. The Bucs, who have the No. 1 overall pick, have two quarterbacks. The Titans (No. 2) may be sold on Zach Mettenberger as a starter, which would mean they should address some of their many other needs. The Jaguars (No. 3) just picked a quarterback, Blake Bortles, with their top pick last season. The Raiders (No. 4) have Derek Carr, who had an impressive rookie season, and tons of other needs. The Redskins (No. 5) have Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy.
The top five teams in the draft could, of course, dangle their draft pick in hopes of getting a big payoff from a team interested in Mariota. With the Eagles likely to select during the second half of the draft for the next few years, the draft picks they could offer won’t be worth as much as draft picks offered by many other teams who might want to move up to select Mariota.
If there is an argument for the Eagles acquiring Mariota, it may be that he’s worth more to them than to other teams. There are questions regarding Mariota’s ability to fit into a traditional offense, but we know Mariota can function in Kelly’s hurry-up offense. The Eagles, therefore, may be willing to outbid other teams in order to get Mariota.
If they get Mariota, however, it won’t be because he and the Ducks lost the national championship game.
BUCKING BRONCOS: One day after Sunday’s 24-13 loss to the Colts, the Broncos parted ways with head coach John Fox. Despite a 46-18 record over four seasons at the helm, Fox presided over three straight disheartening playoff exits. A conservative approach at the end of regulation cost the Broncos in an overtime loss to the Ravens two seasons ago, they were humiliated by the Seahawks in last season’s Super Bowl and they looked lackluster in Sunday’s loss to the Colts.
The Broncos changed their style on offense during the latter part of the season. But that may have been the result of Peyton Manning’s leg injury which has been reported to be either a strained or torn right quadriceps. Any prospective new coach would want to know whether or not Manning is returning or retiring.
RODGERS’ LEGEND GROWS: Aaron Rodgers shook off his left calf injury to lead the Packers to a 26-21 victory over the Cowboys.
The Packers’ victory featured a controversial replay ruling, with a late third-down pass to Dez Bryant, who appeared to make a spectacular catch, ruled incomplete because he did not maintain control of the football all the way through the catch. The way the rule is written, the officials got the close call correct after watching the replay.
All I can say to Cowboys fans is “what comes around goes around.”
ONE SMALL LEAP FOR MANKIND …: One of the more remarkable moments during the NFL’s divisional playoff round was Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor hurdling the offensive line in an attempt to block a field goal. He easily cleared the offensive line on both attempts (a penalty forced a second attempt). Equally remarkable is that Chancellor timed the snap count perfectly so he wasn’t offside when he leaped over the linemen.
BENDING THE RULES: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick used some unusual formations during his team’s 35-31 victory over the visiting Ravens. The Patriots would only use four offensive linemen. He would line up receivers or other “skill position” players on the line, not revealing which receiver or running back was ineligible until shortly before the snap.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh complained after the game that Belichick’s tactics were deceptive and should be illegal. The NFL subsequently said the Patriots’ tactics were not against the rules.
They may not be against the rules for the simple reason that the NFL rulebook doesn’t specifically address the situation. Expect it to be addressed this offseason.
BUCKEYES BENEFIT: The controversial officiating and replay rulings during the NFL playoffs reminded me of one of the worst atrocities during the college football season. Ohio state won the first major college football tournament, but one could argue that the Buckeyes would never have been in the four-team playoff if they had not benefited from horrific calls in their favor against Penn State.
A malfunction in the replay system prevented officials from seeing that their ruling of an interception, which set up Ohio State’s first touchdown, was clearly not an interception. The fact that the referees didn’t see the pass hit the ground with their own eyes was terrible. The fact that they couldn’t overrule a call that was obviously incorrect to all those watching the game on television was embarrassing.
Compounding the problem was that officials allowed a 49-yard Ohio State field goal, at the edge of their kicker’s range, even though the play clock expired several seconds before the snap. A delay of game penalty would have pushed the Buckeyes far enough back that they likely would have elected to punt.
Without those two egregious errors, the Buckeyes may not have defeated Penn State in overtime, which would have prevented the Buckeyes from participating in the inaugural major college football playoffs.
409 RESTORED? Speaking of Penn State, there are reports that lawsuits related to the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State have led to negotiations that, among other things, might lead to the NCAA recognizing 112 victories that were taken away from the Nittany Lions. The restoration of the victories to the recordbook would restore Joe Paterno as the all-time victory leader with 409.
COORDINATING PLANS: Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Pantehrs defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, both of whom used to hold identical positions with the Eagles, are both reportedly interviewing for head coach jobs. Bowles and McDermott are both reportedly scheduled to interview with the Jets. Bowles also is supposed to interview with the Falcons.
GOOD GUY: Long-time Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, whose career is in jeopardy due to blood clots, will be honored with the Good Guy award Friday at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association banquet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill. The honor is well-deserved for a Timonen, a class act on and off the ice.
The Taney Dragons, who reached the Little League World Series, will be honored as team of the year. Retiring Penn football coach Al Bagnoli, former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and former Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler will receive special achievement awards.
Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 26 years, doesn’t need the NCAA’s recognition to know that Joe Paterno had 409 victories as Penn State’s head coach.