If you have been wondering if yours truly, otherwise known as Zeke the peerless pigskin prognosticator/hunky heartthrob for the Reading Eagle, had forgotten about football … well, that would be like me forgetting to breathe or read every Bill O’Reilly book.
So it’s time to check in on Chip Kelly’s Eagles.
Of course, today was a throwback to Andy Reid’s Eagles, what with Donovan McNabb retiring as an Eagle (he sure as hell wasn’t going to retire as a Redskin or a Viking) and the Birds retiring his No. 5 jersey.
Granted, McNabb could be nuttier than the Peanut Bar and he never did win a Super Bowl. But love him or loathe him, he was an elite quarterback in his prime.
Donovan is the best quarterback in franchise history because Hall of Famer Norm Van Brocklin spent the bulk of his career with the Los Angeles Rams before leading the Eagles to their last NFL championship in 1960 and because the sublimely gifted Randall Cunningham never truly morphed into The Ultimate Weapon because Buddy Ryan let Randall be Randall, which translated into a freelance, wing-it offense.
Then again, Ron Jaworski might be higher on my list if Jaws hadn’t looked more like the Polish Joke than the Polish Rifle in the 1981 Super Bowl loss to the Oakland Raiders.
McNabb’s No. 5 is the ninth retired jersey in the 81-year-history of the franchise, joining Reggie White’s 92, Chuck Bednarik’s 60, Steve Van Buren’s 15, Brian Dawkins’ 20, Pete Retzlaff’s 44, Al Wistert’s 70, Tom Brookshier’s 40 and Jerome Brown’s 99.
But now is the time to focus on this year’s quarterback derby. Reportedly Michael Vick and Nick Foles had good practices Monday as did big, strong wideout Riley Cooper, the air apparent to Jeremy Maclin, he of the shredded ACL.
Cooper, of course, is the polar opposite of the lithe and Roadrunner-quick Maclin, but Cooper can go up for the football, he can block, and his long hair could land him the cover of a cheap romance novel.
With Maclin out for the year, look for Kelly to be more tight end centric, even employing three tight end sets to take advantage of the versatile skills of Brent Celek, James Casey and rookie Zach Ertz.
Gifted tight ends with size and speed can create more mismatches than eHarmony.
It’s too early to tell if the Chip Kelly experiment reinvents the science of the NFL or blows up the chem lab.
But at least he has Isaiah 40:31 going for him:
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like Eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”