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Things I Think About The Eagles

This feature is a weekly piece on titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

It's a really slow time for all of us one month before free agency is to begin. NFL teams are in the process of preparing their strategies for free agency and for making their to-do lists for the NFL Combine that runs from February 17-23 in Indianapolis.

We're going to be inundated with rumors, reports and plenty of innuendo for the next month as we wait for Chip Kelly's vision for the future of this team to unfold. In the meantime, I've got a few things to talk about ...

  • I've said this before and I guess it's going to continue until the draft: The Marcus Mariota chatter is just something to sustain sports talk radio and sports media that don't have the creativity and initiative to talk about something else Eagles-related. Mariota's stock, despite intense scrutiny in the next two months, is only going to improve as he works out in controlled environments and throws in cushy Pro Day, carefully-orchestrated events. It's not going to go down, unless Mariota suffers an injury. He'll wow scouts with the way he throws from the pocket and he'll blow them away with his personality and his leadership and his charm. All the digging in the world won't find enough flaws for him drop out of the top handful of teams drafting at the top of Round 1, which means the Eagles are just not going to have a chance to go up and get him, even if they desire him. And, by the way, nobody has said that Kelly wants to make a move to get Mariota. He coached him at Oregon, he loves him as a kid and as a quarterback, but Kelly knows the obstacles and he knows what the Eagles need - and there are several positions to address here - to return to the playoffs and win. Nick Foles, it says in my crystal ball, will be the starting quarterback for the Eagles in September.

  • The Eagles committed a league-high 36 turnovers in 2014, and after looking through each of them, there truly was no specific pattern. The real question is how the Eagles can minimize the mistakes moving forward and one of the solutions is to improve on first and second downs. The Eagles ranked 11th in the NFL with a 5.65-yard average on first downs and were 14th with an average to-go distance of 7.31 yards on third downs. Five of the six best teams in the NFL on first down last year made the postseason.

  • What does Marcus Smith need to get some playing time in 2015? He has a lot of work to do. He's got to get stronger, as virtually every rookie and young player I've ever seen has to do. He need to play physical, hard-nosed football to earn reps. He has to show a complete understanding of the defense and of the technique the coaches are teaching. I see Smith as an outside linebacker in this 3-4 scheme. But it's certainly not automatic that he gets reps next season.

  • Foles and Mark Sanchez would be the way I see the quarterback position in '15, with Matt Barkley in the mix. Will Sanchez have a chance to sign elsewhere and become a starter? That certainly could be the case. The Eagles would have a strong, strong situation with Foles, Sanchez and Barkley for 2015.

  • When will Chip Kelly next speak to the media? The NFL's Annual Meeting takes place from March 22-25 in Arizona, so that is possibly when he meets the cameras and the microphones.

  • Mock drafts? Fun stuff. I find it amusing that not a single one that I've seen considers that the Eagles could take an offensive player. Nothing surprises me on draft weekend. I don't expect a lot in free agency - the cap is expected to rise as much as $10 million and teams will have the means to retain their own players - so the draft is going to be wide open. My needs, in no particular order here: Cornerback, safety, inside linebacker, offensive line, quarterback, another weapon for offense.

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