Are The Eagles Redshirting Marcus Smith?BREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Thursday, July 31st, 2014
A “non-quarterback” first round draft pick is often expected to make an immediate contribution to his football team during. In the case of 2014 first round selection Marcus Smith, it would appear that Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles are taking a different approach with his rookie campaign.
Labeling outside linebacker Marcus Smith as a “redshirt” freshman would be pushing the envelope, this is the professional game and not the college ranks. At the same time, Chip Kelly is a mere year removed from the college ranks, and demonstrated during his rookie season as a head coach, that he follows what he feels is right. Whether we justify that as high school, college or professional is our perception. As Chip has said time and time again, if it puts the team in the best position to win football games, that’s what he is going to do.
Marcus Smith may not have been graded as a first or second round pick by many, but he was drafted by the Eagles 26th overall. The Eagles can chose to downplay the fact; but it leaves the media and fan base reasonable expectations for what Smith should contribute year one. So far in training camp, Smith is running with the second team defense. He is being “eased” into the scheme, working on his fundamentals in all phases of the game. One would think that a player worthy of a first round selection would have proven at the collegiate level that his “fundamentals” were ready for the NFL level. A mere polish of some minor alterations is all that would be needed before sliding into a “starting role.”
Does the head coach see Marcus Smith as a freshman in college? Smith has good size, speed and athletic ability but is still mastering the position of outside linebacker. Does Chip have a three year plan for Smith before he enters the role of starter? This is the NFL, and players drafted in the first round are expected to help their respected team right away. Why should we wait patiently for the “potential” that Kelly and Lurie have labeled him with? There were other players on the board who were considered more NFL ready, but you decided to go this route?
Smith has taken a back seat to our second and third round wide receiver positions. It was our defense that failed us more often than not last season; the offense was the side of the football that eclipsed several franchise record marks.
I do buy into the philosophy and the direction the Eagles are heading in. I can “understand” the rationale for the approach with Marcus Smith, even though I would personally like the kid to be tested more in training camp and see how he does.
Chip is a coach that really believes in a player “buying into the system.” He may very well see in Marcus Smith a player that needs a specific amount of time to mold his craft prior to being released in order to put Smith in the “best situation to succeed.”
If the head coach truly believes that being patient with Smith is the plan, that Trent Cole, Connor Barwin and some of the other veterans have enough talent to allow Smith to be eased into the defensive scheme, I’m supporting coach.
When Chip speaks, I listen, almost as if I’m learning a new way to be a student of the game myself. In a very short period of time, Chip has delivered more than I expected, so with that, I return to him my trust that this approach with Marcus Smith is the best way to go.
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