Felix Jones might not play a huge role for the Eagles this season, but his signing today to a one-year contract reflects how Chip Kelly's offensive focus is different from Andy Reid's.
As LeSean McCoy has noted a couple of times, the frenetic pace of Kelly's attack is going to be draining, especially for skill-position players. Plus, the read-option elements promise to make running much more prominent than it was under Reid. There will be more snaps, and more carries. Kelly has an ideal No. 1 in McCoy, and an intrguing young backup in Bryce Brown. There's also Chris Polk, a rookie who looked good in training camp last year but got no regular-seaason carries. That isn't enough, in this system.
Maybe if Brown sets the world on fire this summer and Polk continues to improve, or somebody like undrafted rookie Miguel Maysonet proves to be a diamond in the rough, Jones won't even make the team. But Kelly can't count on any of that.
Jones, who just turned 26, is a five-year vet who never quite became more than a role player aftrer being drafted in the first round, 22nd overall, by Dallas in 2008. One of his biggest fans that draft year was then-Eagles GM Tom Heckert, who was drafting after the Cowboys, and ended up trading out of the first round, for the second year in a row.
Jones, an excellent receiver, projected as a bigger Brian Westbrook, except, despite being 5-10, 215, Jones proved far less durable. Injuries seemed to intrude whenever he put together a string of strong games.
"I felt like it fit me," Jones said Tuesday at NovaCare. He worked out for the Birds last week, then visited with the Patriots before signing. It would seem safe to infer he was looking for a multiyear deal, and couldn't find one.
"Things just didn't go right, as far as the injuries and things, but you know, that's how the game is. You've got to keep pushing on, keep moving," Jones said, when asked if he'd felt he was on the cusp of stardom after gaining 148 yards on 16 carries against the Eagles in a January 2010 Dallas playoff victory.
"It's a little interesting" to move from the hated Cowboys to the Eagles, Jones said, "but I'm excited."
One opening the Eagles have that Jones definitely would seem to fit is that of kickoff returner. He has a solid 24.0-yard average on 64 career returns.