The main focus of Chip Kelly's Wednesday morning media season was, as expected, DeSean Jackson. BGN already covered what Kelly had to say on that subject. But Kelly also spoke on a number of other interesting topics. Here are the highlights of what the Eagles' head coach had to say.
A report emerged early on Wednesday morning that the Eagles are willing to listen to trade offers for Mathis. This is because Mathis is reportedly seeking a new contract despite having three years left on his current deal.
Kelly was quick to downplay any concerns. He said he's not concerned with Mathis being worried about trade rumors. "He's a hard worker. Since day one, Evan has been outstanding. He brings it everyday since I've been here," Kelly explained. While he said he hasn't yet talked to Mathis about new deal, Kelly said he's not worried about Mathis causing problems.
A few reporters noted the difference between Kelly's response to Mathis trade questions compared to Jackson trade questions.
Take from it what you will, but Kelly raved about Mathis on first question. With DeSean, hardly anything outside of "I like him, but..."— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) March 26, 2014
Quarterbacks: Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, and Mark Sanchez
Have any doubt that Nick Foles is Kelly's QB this year? Lay your concerns to rest with this quote: "Nick is our quarterback. He is the quarterback of our franchise. He is our franchise quarterback."
On Matt Barkley: "We're excited about where he is." Barkley figures to compete for the number two job this offseason.
On Sanchez, who has not officially signed with the team yet but is expected to according to reports: Sanchez is a "very good athlete" and has lots of experience.
Kelly reiterated that the team is always looking for more competition at quarterback. He specifically referenced the Eagles' need to use three quarterbacks last season to illustrate the importance of QB depth.
Kelly was no stranger to express his excitement when the Eagles acquired Sproles a few weeks back. He echoed that sentiment again today by saying he's "real excited" to add Sproles to the team. Regarding the decision to trade a pick for Sproles, Kelly replied: "If Darren Sproles was available in the 5th round of this year's draft, would we take him? Heck yeah." Unlike a young draft pick, however, Sproles will turn 31 this offseason. Kelly suggested that age is only a guideline and isn't a major concern with Sproles due to his recent production. Kelly said Sproles' role in the Eagles offense won't be determined until OTAs.
The Eagles' biggest need on defense at this point is a pass rusher, according to Kelly. (The majority of BGN agrees!) The free agent pass rusher market wasn't all that great but the Eagles will have the chance to add talent through the draft. Kelly said the biggest challenge with finding pass rushers is projection: can a 4-3 defensive end transition to a 3-4 edge rusher?
At safety, Kelly lauded the signing of Malcolm Jenkins in free agency. He called Jenkins the "Number 1" target.
As far as cornerbacks go, Kelly echoes what I have maintained all offseason: the Eagles are content with their starters. They are not spectacular, but they are solid. "I think our two outside corners are very good football players," Kelly said. The Eagles also added CB Nolan Carroll this offseason, who figures to compete for a starting job.
Overall, Kelly was excited about the progress the Eagles' defense made in 2013 and said he expects that it "will continue to improve in Year 2."
The Eagles lost two leadership figures this offseason now that Jason Avant and Michael Vick are no longer with the team. Kelly says he sees players such as Connor Barwin, Jason Kelce, Malcolm Jenkins and Darren Sproles to be part of the team's leadership moving forward.
GM Howie Roseman often stresses the Eagles' strategy of sticking to their board and taking the highest rated player (AKA best player available). Kelly had similar things to say in that regard. "I don't think we're fine at any position."
This Kelly quote is my favorite considering just how good the Eagles offense was last year.
"Can our offense can improve? I think it can improve a ton."