PHOENIX - So the last piece of Louis Vuitton luggage has been carefully trundled out of the Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced Arizona Biltmore hotel lobby into the last chauffeured Bentley; the 2015 NFL meetings are over, and for Eagles fans, the highlight was that both Jeffrey Lurie and Chip Kelly spoke.
What did we learn?
Nothing earth-shattering. Both the team chairman's Tuesday session and the coach's hourlong appearance at the NFC coaches' breakfast yesterday yielded valuable nuggets of new information, they filled in some blanks and buttressed some notions. But on the bigger issues facing the franchise, both events tended to confirm what we already knew, or at least suspected.
Lurie demoted Howie Roseman because he didn't want to end up feeling he hadn't given Kelly every chance to succeed; Chip felt he needed to hire his own personnel guy, in part because the coach has very specific ideas about what's important at various positions. (Something Kelly refused to provide any detail on whatsoever when asked about it, by the way.)
Lurie confirmed what some of us figured - that when you hire somebody like Chip Kelly, you think through scenarios; Lurie referenced having discussed with Roseman back then the possibility that Kelly might not be comfortable long-term with Howie as general manager.
Kelly said he saw shuffling Roseman back to the business side - even though working in NFL personnel was Roseman's lifelong ambition - as part of "trying to maximize everybody's strengths." While Lurie said he retains confidence in Roseman's personnel acumen, when Kelly was asked to assess Roseman as an evaluator, his answer was: "I thought he was good." If you could connote shrugging your shoulders through tone of voice, that was what Kelly did.
Asked if Roseman hadn't acquired the kinds of players Kelly wanted, Kelly talked about how much draft position influences what you can do. But when he was asked if not having had final say meant he sometimes didn't get what he wanted the last 2 years, even when it was available, Kelly said: "Yeah, I didn't have final say, so you always defer to who is in charge."
Kelly was asked how much what he wants in a player is different from what other teams want.
"I think everybody has specific needs and wants that they have at their position . . . I think the teams that do it the best are getting players that fit their system," he said.
Then he was asked if there's a danger there - if you might miss a great player because he isn't as tall as you'd like, or has shorter arms, or whatever.
"That's the $64,000 question," Kelly acknowledged. "You can say, 'You know what, our parameters are too tight, so let's expand them' . . . So if you accept that you're going to take a 5-7 corner and the ball gets thrown over his head, you can't say, 'Boy, he should have made that play.' He ain't going to make that play. The receiver is 6-4. So there's a give and take.
"It's a tough deal. If you take overachievers that aren't the right size at every position, eventually you're going to have a 5-10 nose guard with a 5-9 inside linebacker with a 5-8 safety, and they're going to run the ball right down your throat, and you have no one to kick in the pants but yourself because you decided to make those selections. If you're going to have a standard in any operation - your business, your newspaper, whatever - and say, 'I want to have a guy that is really good at this. This guy doesn't really fit the criteria, but let's just hire him anyway,' and you wonder why your business failed, it's because you lowered your standards to get to a certain point."
Lurie spoke of speculation the Eagles might try to trade up to draft Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota as something talk radio needs "to keep the ratings up," but he mused that if you were trading a bunch of resources to draft, say, Peyton Manning, it would be worth it.
Kelly made it even clearer than he had 2 weeks ago that he thinks a major move in the draft would divert too many resources, while again not completely shutting the door, and while again making plain his high regard for Mariota.
"Philosophically, I want to keep all the draft picks," Kelly said, when asked about trading up from 20th overall. "I think you build your team through the draft. So if you gut yourself for one year and one guy, philosophically, I don't think that's the right thing to do."
Asked if there is a point where Mariota could drop that might make a trade more possible, Kelly said, "No." Then he added: "I could deal with hypotheticals all the time. Give me a scenario. If it goes to 12, and it's going to cost us a seventh-round conditional pick, then I would be very - you could go back and forth."
Provided a hypothetical that would involve the Eagles giving two first-round picks to move up to sixth overall, Kelly said: "Never get to it. It took two first-round picks to go from six to two [when the Redskins traded up for Robert Griffin III] 3 years ago."
Kelly tossed in a twist yesterday, when he asserted that those weeks of trade talks with the Rams for quarterback Sam Bradford did not include Nick Foles, until right at the end. Kelly said the Eagles wanted to keep Foles. "We were trying to get it done with draft picks, but it didn't work out that way," he said.
Hard to know what to make of that. Could just be that Kelly was sensitive to the fact that while Bradford said the Rams kept him apprised all along, Foles told reporters he knew nothing of a trade possibility until it happened.
Since the Rams seem to be looking at Foles as their 2015 starter, it would be pretty odd if they'd hit upon the idea of acquiring him the way you might throw a pack of gum onto the conveyor belt as the cashier is ringing up your groceries.
Kelly talked about how he ended up promoting 31-year-old Ed Marynowitz to player personnel vice president. He seemed to indicate he hadn't known Marynowitz very well previously.
"It was an interesting process for me. I went out for probably 3 weeks and visited with a lot of people, talked to a lot of people. Ed was the one guy in house that I really wanted to talk to, and I actually interviewed him last," Kelly said. "We had never really sat down. I was impressed with his work ethic and impressed with his knowledge.
"Just sitting in draft meetings, sitting in free-agent meetings, listening to him talk, listening to him describe players and was always, 'Hey, that guy is really sharp,' and then he was the last guy I interviewed and the last guy Mr. Lurie interviewed. I think he blew both of us away. It was like, 'Wow, this guy is extremely organized, extremely detailed, has a real good vision of what we are trying to get accomplished,' and I thought he was outstanding."
The biggest need the Eagles were unable to address in free agency was safety. Chip Kelly indicated that 2014 rookie corner-safety Jaylen Watkins would get a look there. Asked about switching dime corner Nolan Carroll to safety, Kelly said no, Carroll will compete with Brandon Boykin and newcomer Walter Thurmond to be the starting corner opposite Byron Maxwell. Apparently the outright ban on starting Boykin outside has been lifted.
Kelly confirmed that just like last year, Drew Rosenhaus, Evan Mathis' agent, has been given the green light to find a trade for the left guard, who is unhappy with his contract. Asked if there had been any nibbles, Kelly said: "No, not at all." He said he feels "very confident" in Allen Barbre replacing the departed Todd Herremans at right guard . . . With more depth at running back, Kelly said he feels he can experiment more with Darren Sproles.