Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Differential Apartheid: A New Strain of Racism - Part 2



“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

  Differential Apartheid is the result of what has been left undone. Hoped for changes are often left for the passage of time to solve, or finish. A point is made, a vision shown broad, or upheaval inspired, and left to humanity to assimilate through a hoped for natural and innate reason. This is where everything we experience tends to come off the rails. 

  In a perfect world, a seeming reasonable idea is considered, deemed worth, and assimilated into our consciousness as the right thing to do from a given point forward. Yet, the vast possibilities for what's considered to be true - or absolute - is NEVER a given from one person to the next. Fanning out from the individual, micro-social levels of importance causes dilution. Growing from this point, mix in broad populations, and the levels assigned to what can be jammed onto the list of basic everyday concerns we each have at a given moment in time. Here - from the moment of heard cries for change, to the dilution point as time passes - is where it gets tricky when it comes to a change in innate philosophical ideals...

  I guess this may be a good place to remind you of what I mentioned about me in Part 1, and that's my all too evident lack of intellectual credentials. I have none, excepting my earnest will to learn and understand. I try to think about things with a 360 degree view. I try (and no doubt fail miserably on more than one occasion) to put myself in the shoes of everyone as closely as I can reasonably expect to achieve. Stop laughing at how naive this may sound! At least give me some credit for going the extra mile (and loads of Advil) to consider things beyond my personal world. In truth, it doesn't always come out the way I'd envisioned. The odd thing is, I've been labeled both liberal and conservative, and more than a few of my friend think I'm an alien. Maybe it makes me fun at parties...?

  Getting back to interpreting innate ideals, we should slide a bit toward the most simplistic model and consider the different ways anyone from a given State or region may find an issue worthy of their time to consider? Simply put, can something be thoroughly implemented if its not universally embraced? I honestly don't know the answer to this query if not limited to a single defined subject or narrative. Can it be expected or implied that historical tenets weigh less from State to State, region to region? I know I may seem to be tracking away from the base subject of this article, yet the core of Differential Apartheid is acknowledging how things are viewed, and not by just demographics...

  One of the greatest documents ever written begins with the words: "We, the People..." Amazing words to begin, then it kind of slid off the table and crashed to the floor in Article 1, Section 2, clause 3:

" Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."

  The Constitution had been battered back and forth for years before final ratification, and I'd bet the only words from the very first draft that weren't severely changed were "We, the people.." It devolved as time passed, and individual needs and ideals filtered in. By the time the Constitution was finalized in its original form, the general populous had most likely moved on, trusting it would be handle... 

  Time and tide changes and shifts, but one thing I hold to be a general truth is that the attention span of most people is rather short. In the blink of an eye, the most precious intentions seem to slip away...

 In part 3, let's move closer to Differential Apartheid's current incarnation. Until then...




 

Monday, June 8, 2020

Differential Apartheid: A New Strain


           
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
                                                                                     ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

  Are we lost? Have we as a humanity hit a societal dissolve? Reason seems caught by a wind of anger; swirling, with no breath safe to to take...

  First of all: I'm no one. I have no claim to intellectual prowess of any kind. I'm known by many as a kind, honorable man, and with that I'll leave my human curriculum vitae off to the side while I consider my world, your world, and our world. Make no mistake, they are indeed three separate and distinct exsistances that act out in multiples a plays everyday, everywhere...

  I find this as an interesting starting point, for me at least. Many will think me less evolved for such a lowly base point to begin, and here in lay the rub which keeps us in a continuous cycle of mistake after mistake.

 “If you label me, you negate all the things I could possibly be.” Correctly or in error, this quote is attributed to Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard. Yes, the human tendency is to quickly identify and classify people; to assign them to a taxonomy chart. Determine where others “belong,” based on their opinions, the place of their birth, the religion to which they are an adherent, or some other pigeon-holing category. - Ronnie McBrayer
                                                               
   Mr. Brayer got the quote slightly wrong, but the intent is bang on. Labels seem to be devilish things. We have this great need to judge, decide, and place things just so they fit personal or current paradigms or needs. Maybe it makes it easier for us to move on, or formulate notions or actions? I have an idea of how labels effect myself and others, just as you do too. Yet, if we settle in here as a mean basis point to consider what's going on now in this world, it could be seen as slighting the very history thumping our collective brains at the moment?

  The simple truth here, is we've moved on from the long ago historical compendium of gross mistakes with our all to very human ability to shut bad things away. We're modern, intelligent and aware, right? Not really, but if you think you are is what bakes your cookies, have at it.

 This is the part where I explain the title of this short "Part 1" of my windy road pointed toward understanding things. It's also where the faint of soul could see clouds forever ahead for humanity, and I pity those who take this track. This world is a constantly evolving thing, and there will always be bad to go along with the good...

  Inequality has been the bain of humanity FOREVER! Whether racial, financial, social... You get the idea? Labels are the ultimate sin of omission, and Differential Apartheid is the next phase of human indifference we have to address, and correct. Like a virus, it morphs and shapes itself to continue existence. It fights and claws to sustain itself, hiding in plain sight. It waits to rear up after society creates the environment it needs to flourish. It makes CoVid look like a sniffle, and has cost literally millions and millions of lives, both in actual deaths, and souls. It is the killer of hope, dreams, and us...

  Where am I going with this? I'm not really. We are, or we all lose... See you in Part 2!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

L.A. Rams: Sailing In Uncharted Waters...



  In the southern hemisphere, you may want to look up at the nighttime sky. For centuries, travelers upon the sea have known well what you'll see. It's "The Southern Cross..."

  Painting a seemingly simple four star cluster into an NFL team's 2017 canvas may be a reach, but I tend to be a star-eyed dreamer at any given moment. I've got the proverbial tee-shirt, and have the art of going from cheering to moaning down so pat, it's like a second language. As a Rams fan for decades, it's how I've sail through life in my little easy chair sloop. Years of dodging the behemoth NFL team tankers on each season's sea has been daunting. I've bailed and bailed after great NFL ships pass my team by, swamping me in waves of frustration. It doesn't do any good to shake your fist at them, nor does pelting a TV screen with Cheetos. You just have to re-set your sail, put the rudder hard over, and head for open sea... Or change the channel... Both seem to work?

Ocean going metaphors are oft times a hard sell, but I think it fits the 2017 Los Angeles Rams well. They've been plying the NFL waters in a hapless fashion for so long now, it takes time to believe their course could ever run true. Now, after a decade of confusing routes that had them zig-zagging all over the NFL map, they're headed toward new water... New destinations... New hope... They can see those four innocuous stars in the nighttime sky...

So, what happened? Well, as much as I liked Jeff Fisher as a person, he just didn't have what it takes to steer an NFL team. The Rams new head coach - Sean McVay - has it right. He built a coaching staff that re-set a basically talent roster. Wade Phillips - the team's defensive coordinator - installed a  defense, then molded Aaron Donald, Conner Barwin, Robert Quinn, and - a vastly underrated - Michael Brockers into a core for a front seven that's clicking. He took a secondary - that no one thought much of prior to the start of the 2017 NFL season - and sewed tight passing seems left open in years past. The 2017 Rams secondary now has as many interceptions (10), as they did in the ENTIRE 2016 season.

Worthy of remark too, is the number of penalties for the Rams defense in 2017 when compared to 2016. Under Jeff Fisher, penalties were crazy high. I mean, they weren’t flat out bug-nuts high, but they seemed to constantly come at the worst times. In 2017, the Rams rank third lowest in penalty yardage (342), and the best in the NFL penalties called (48).

Flipping over to the offensive side of the ball, one of the most striking statistics is the Rams’ 3rd down conversion rate: 49.1%. In 2016, they were dead last in the NFL(32%) when it came to 3rd down efficiency.

While all the fan fluff has been going running back Todd Gurley and quarterback Jared Goff’s way, to my mind, it’s left tackle Andrew Whitworth who deserves the team’s offensive MVP award. So far in 2017, the Rams have 17 running plays for 10+ yards on the left side of the offensive line. In the entire 2016 season, the Rams only had 8 plays of 10+ yard on the left side. Jared Goff has only been sacked 10 times this season, compared to the 49 time Jared Goff and Case Keenum bit the dust 2016. Oh, what a difference a great left tackle makes... Add in that the Rams offensive line has kept the same five starters all season, and it’s not hard to see why this current Rams team is sailing free and easy.

In an odd twist, the one statistic I thought I’d find was a Rams’ wide receiver making his way up the success lists? Not so, with only Robert Woods in the Top 50 wide receivers in the NFL(#28), with 451 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Digging deeper though, Rams fans can get excited about the number of different receiver Jared Goff utilizes. The Rams player with the highest yard per catch percentage? (Insert Jeopardy theme) If you said “Who is: rookie receiver Josh Reynolds”, you win! OK, he only has one catch for 28 yards, but Alex Trebeck is a picky guy, right? Sammy Watkins hasn’t made big headlines, but general manager Les Snead hit bigger than most people want to believe. Watkins has only 19 reception, but his 331 receiving yards - for a 17.4 yard average - tells me the Rams finally have the guy who can take the top off a defense, and hold safeties back a bit on every play...

OK, so what do all the statistics have to do with the Southern Cross I mentioned at the start of my wunder-babble? Maybe it’s the feeling I get that the Rams have open sea ahead, that’s of their own choosing? Then again, it could be the simple, notional feeling I get - when I think about the team I’ve loved all my life - that every game to be played will be in currents that are a challenge to opposing teams? All too possible, is that I’ve got this all wrong, and it’s not about stars at all? Maybe - just MAYBE - it’s the fact that the Los Angeles Rams have a harmony about them that makes a mark on a fan of the NFL...

Hmm...? Harmony... Southern Cross... I’ve got it!



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

L.A. Rams: Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc



After, therefore, because of it...” Known as a well worn fallacy by more educated people than I, those who mock this phrase can’t be NFL fans. Yet, I find it hard not to bend causality to my whim when the chance arises, and not just when it comes to the game we all love. For instance, it’s all but undeniable personal life tracks can be bent askew by “just one more beer...”, or in a certain Washington D.C. based Rams fan writer we all know: “Just ten more beers...” It’s the beer’s fault, right? Anyone out there silently nodding their head, and whispering: “Amen...”?

Say what you will, being an NFL fan allows a certain latitude with reality at times. Take the 2014 NFL Draft. No, really. Take it, because it makes me grind my teeth every time I summon the strength to think about it. Many may recall the then St. Louis Rams taking Auburn tackle Greg Robinson with the second overall pick in the draft, followed by Aaron Donald at #13 in the first round. The pick of Robinson - a Jason Smith-ian bust during his time with the Rams - made me cringe at the time. If you look back thru my rants for TST around the draft in 2014, you’ll see I pounded the table for someone else...

It’s at this point I’m going to drown you in Latin, with a new phrase NFL fans should thoroughly embrace: “Pro eo quod”, which translates roughly into “Instead this, therefore that...” You see, there was this one player I wanted Jeff Fisher and Les Snead to take, and I have little doubt it would have changed the future of the franchise. Khalil Mack was taken at #5 overall. Now, just think about it for a second and look back at the other players taken in the top 15 picks. Donald would’ve been there at #13 if the Rams had taken Mack at #2. How do I know? I just do, and I’m a bit of a brat, so get over it!

Looking back, Jeff Fisher had been slamming draft capital at building a defense since his arrival in 2012. Fans were screaming for offensive help, and a battered Sam Bradford needed someone to guard his blindside. Yielding to convention, Fisher and Snead missed the chance to build a defense for the ages... Pro eo quod..
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In fact - if you’ll allow my dizzy little dreamland to spin further out of control a bit more - glance at the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Assuming just the players above the Rams selection position at #41 remained constant, way down at #63 was a player who would’ve satiated calls for wide receiver help: Jarvis Landry. The fates being what they will, the Rams selected safety, Lamarcus Joyner.

The odd thing about being an NFL fan, is how we try to discern where our favorite teams went off the proverbial rails when they fail to live up to our dreams. For me, the 2014 NFL Draft was where the Fisher era missed its chance for greatness. I’m in no way blind to the fact anyone can page back through time to other instances where cause and effect changes could’ve shifted the Rams fortunes. They’re there, spattered across time for all to see, and tearfully lament...

I guess the whole point of this has to do with looking forward, which is oddly counter to this article’s bend. L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay now swims in the unknown waters of what can be. Twist and turns, fates and fortunes, all lie ahead. A missed chance, an ill timed ego burst, or not staying true to a determined course happens so very easily in the broad scheme. Just ask Jeff Fisher... 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Cost of a Millennial Life...

 How I hate those moments, when life - the course of a life lived - hurls itself at me... Yesterday, a young man - I've known since he was 6 or 7 years old - took his own life. How I'll grapple with the event itself isn't why I'm writing this though, because there's something else nagging at me. I think young men (and women) like the one I mentioned are at risk from something that's going to be parsed and defined more often as time goes on. Some use the term "Millennials" to describe the current crop of young people between the ages of 16 to 30-ish...

Often labeled as a generation of concern by people labeled "Baby-Boomers," and the offspring of the  late 1970's to 1990's parental tree, Millennials are the cultural shift off shoot of an America transitioning through a myriad of social changes at the family level. The family unit changed drastically, with both parents working more and more, while child rearing began to shift toward an arm's length approach out of necessity. The family unit itself became even more nondescript as marital divorce became more acceptable - and in many instances, rightly so. Technology has lent an odd hand in all this, but more on that at another time...

The Millennial child gets a bad rap. Many in my age sphere lament how ill-focused and prepared young people are today. Yet, I can't help but think we don't take into consideration just how we've set Millennials up for failure? We somehow allowed the thinking that Millennials - like other generations before them - should be able to find their way as we have, and it's just idiotic...

This current world is so infinitely more complex than the one I, and those of my own generation, had to handle growing up that it borders on the absurd. It's overwhelming to take a glimpse at yourself, and try to fit how a child of the "Cold War" era would handle everything being thrown at today's young people. "WE" had both parent - divorce being a social "no-no" - and far less of what's going on  in the world pounded on us ever second of the day. Information technology was in its infancy, so there was kind of a layer of forgiveness built in. Today, a small criminal misstep can literally end a young person's future prospects in the blink of an eye. When I was young, you were more likely to get a ride home by a law enforcement officer for youthful indiscretions. No paperwork, just a stern talking to, and that uncomfortable - and unforgettable - time as the officer told your parents what you'd done... Today, everything a child does is documented and stored. It's available for anyone to see, with stale facts precluding any hint of becoming a better person later in life being left left out.

Yes, I'm more than a little alarmed at just how thinly prepared "Millennials" appear to be to take on life in an infinitely complex world. But all the problems aren't of their making, and the solution set has somehow alluded falling at the feet of those who've put them in this position...

If I could speak to the masses of Millennials, I'd tell them to set aside thoughts of trying to push through life on their own. The old line "It takes a village..." applies more now, than ever. The African proverb holds true through time. The Bible embraces this wisdom too:

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken..." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

It's simple enough, but how thinly Millennials consider history - and what can be learned from mankind's thousands of years of successes and failures - could very well be a tipping point for this generation. While current educational focus has been squarely set toward math and science to compete in the global marketplace, the lack of emphasis on history and reading - especially beyond 140 characters in length - leaves a vast pool of pool of untapped knowledge laid to waste in libraries and search engines. Millennial disdain for expanding their minds to broaden their base understanding of the world, drastically effects their ability to cohesively interact and excel with the community as a whole. They bring less to the table when wisdom is called for, and it limits their available solutions sets.

This world swallowed a young man I cherished. Overwhelmed by his circumstance, he didn't reach out to family and friends. But let's be clear, his life's end falls on my, and everyone else's shoulders who knew him. As I look back, the space between myself and this young man was far too broad. The sad thing is, as I look around me, the single point I can readily tie to him is a phone number, in a cell phone list hundreds of names long. The numbers in everyone's phone represent an instant epitaph of how minuscule and shrinking human interaction has become. I know I'm not the only one who's seen families sitting next to each other, and no one is speaking. They're all texting someone, or living their lives on some social media stream. There may be some who are satisfied that 140 characters on a small screen is interaction, and if you're one of them I feel sorry for you. If you are, you will remain outside the village we all so desperately need to survive...

So what's the cost of a Millennial's life? How much does it cost to reach out and help, because it's a price I, and everyone else fail to think worthy...










Saturday, March 12, 2016

NFL Weekend: Free Agent Shop 'Til You Drop

...The 2016 NFL free agency scene had some teams throwing cash around like sailors on leave. The New York Giants spent a whopping $204.5 million to rebuild a sagging defense. Miami hit the "gotta wonder what they're thinking" button when they signed Mario Williams, C.J. Anderson, Jermon Bushrod, Isa Abdul-Quddus, and swapped first round pick in the 2016 NFL draft with Philadelphia to acquire Bryon Maxwell and Kiko Alonzo. The evil schadenfreude in me wants to be the fly on the wall when Ndamukong Suh knocks heads with the mercurial Mario Williams...

**
Speaking of "Butts", the Denver Broncos sent a conditional 7th round draft pick to Philadelphia for quarterback Mark Sanchez...



Yes, this monkey is going to be on Sanchez's back forever. If he should somehow blossom into the greatest quarterback in NFL history - and make into the Hall of Fame - at his induction ceremony they'll play this infamous moment over and over again. No doubt Baby Got Back - "I like Big Butts" - will be playing in the background... Denver fans have to be reeling, as they transition from Peyton Manning to having one of the biggest "fill in the blank" questions ever at quarterback for 2016. They'll be going cold turkey after riding the high of having one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, to one who gave us a Thanksgiving Day football game that'll be etched into our minds forever...



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Quite a few NFL teams have stayed quiet during the free agent maelstrom so far. Baltimore, Green Bay, New England, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis have concentrated on re-signing some of their players. The Rams took a hit in their secondary, losing Janoris Jenkins and Rodney McLeod - the latter being the more damaging loss for Los Angeles. The secondary for the Rams was just starting to peek out from behind a dismal decade of terrible pass coverage; especially at the safety position.
New England did add a wide receiver. Buffalo's Paul Hogan will join the Patriots after impressing head coach Bill Belichick with his football savvy.
So now a quarterback/wide receiver "Barbershop Quartet" will see if they can sing for Bill Belichick in 2016. Sunscreen dependent, I think this may become a very interesting group to watch this season...

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Green Bay needs to re-sign James Jones, who was one of the best stories to follow in 2015. His 890 receiving yards, 8 touchdown on 50 receptions came after his being ignored by teams during free agency. After Jordy Nelson went down, it still took the Packers weeks to bring back one of Aaron Rodgers' favorite targets. He's sitting in the unemployment line right now, but only teams with an elite quarterback need come calling. Jones won't wow anyone with his speed, but he seems to find a way to make the best quarterbacks better...

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The best free agent signing by a team thus far? My vote goes to the Pittsburgh Steelers inking tight end Ladarius GreenWith the retirement of Heath Miller, Green was a flat out bargain: 4 years/$20 million. An example of pre-determined and focused free agent shopping, the Steelers never wavered in who they wanted. Green played in the shadow of future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates, who re-signed with San Diego after an injury marred 2015 season. Now he'll join one of the best aerial attacks in the NFL. I give this signing a solid gold: A+
The worst free agent so far? I know this is just my opinion, but the money paid by the New York Giants for the Rams' Janoris Jenkins is down right absurd. I'll eat my words if he somehow avoids getting regularly burned long in 2016, but I really think that won't happen. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo needs shutdown corner backs. Jenkins has the ability to do just that, but it's his tendency to sprinkle in ill-timed gambles that'll have Giants fans cringing. His own comments at a Giants presser should set off warning flags, when he said he needed to "stop being lazy at the end of games..." Now that's what you want to hear after signing away $62.5 million, right...? I give this signing a: C-

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Have a great weekend! Follow me on Twitter: @thenovelroad

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Narrative Distance: A Place To Start

Narrative Distance...

While some think less about this key piece in the writing puzzle, it's where the tipping point exists between great works, and the rest. In an e-mail to a young writer, I tossed him a basic starting point for grappling with Narrative Distance. Right or wrong in my direction, I think it's a good enough reminder for any writer to occasionally peruse... 

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Don't confuse "Narrative Distance" with objectivity, or editorial distance. This aspect of writing is usually explained in two parts: Narrative Voice and Narrative Distance. The "Voice" is the easy one. It's the character POV (Point of View), meshed with the innate tenor each writer brings to a piece. "Distance", is something I like to explain as "the fly on the wall" narrator. How far away the "fly" is from the action dictates how much scope the reader is provided. It's tricky, because some writers fall into a "wordy" trap, thinking "Distance-set" means prolonged setting details. While you can use setting (lighting, geography, time of day, ect...) to frame your character's or subject's tenor, too much will draw the reader too far away; minimizing focal points.

In every story or article, there is - without exception - an inherent Narrator. News stories written are offered from close POV, but the "Distance" the writer has to take is dependent on the facts at hand. If the facts in evidence are indisputable - not needing observation to glean what is, or isn't true - the writer can write unequivocally. If the facts aren't absolute, or are vague, a good writer creates distance by stating sourced observations of the subject, or event. In each case, the writer is the narrator.

Opinion based pieces need to have "Opinion Dependent Distance". How much of what the writer says is based on facts - set off against judgement inspired by personal thoughts, passions or morays - will actually set the POV, and even the overall tenor of a piece.

 Let's look at Narrative Distance in a "beginner" way...  Think of a zoom camera lens for a minute. Now, think about Narrative Distance in these three aspects: (1) Close, (2) Near, (3) Far

"Close" - This is either the writer acting as narrator, or one of his characters. The camera lens zooms in close, framing faces, and not the outside world around them. There is no sound, or exterior noise other than the strictly narrated facts or dialogue.

"Near" -  Observed action effected by immediate surroundings is key here. If the writer has two people talking in a crowded room, the people around them, the purpose of the room itself, and even the time of day (among a myriad of other reasons) can set the narrative distance. But let's say the room has a window? What's "outside" this room defined world is sliced out, narrowing the focus of the lens...

"Far" - The key here is to know "far" isn't about "physical" distance. The same two people mentioned earlier in the room are talking, but the thoughts going through their heads as they speak now comes into play. The narrator draws out the "How-s" and Why-s" of what's being said, then adds in observational aspects to set tone, tenor and intent... 

The pieces I write - and you're able to read, since most of what I write you don't have access to - feature a variety of Narrative Distance-s. In the Front Office Fiction pieces, the Distance used is "Close" and "Near". I've written features like my "The NFL and CTE" interview in "Close" and "Far", with zero "Near", which is VERY tricky to do. My novel - Devin Briar - is a character-driven story, so it's written in "Close", Near" and "Far".  

A good writer uses the zoom lens to shift in and out across a broad set of circumstances posed. How you slide between these three aspects of Narrative Distance will determine the flow of what - and how - you write...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Tao of Chip Kelly

...The sudden purge of talented veteran players by the Philadelphia Eagles caught every NFL fan by surprise. Then came the curious additions to offset the subtractions: LeSean McCoy is traded to Buffalo, and DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews are added thru free agency. Quarterback Nick Foles bops his way via trade to St. Louis for oft injured Sam Bradford. I could go on listing the moves by Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly, but you've see it all as its streamed in headlines across sports-pages. A life long NFL fan, I've never seen anything close to what's been going on in Philadelphia...


So is Chip Kelly a genius, or mad man?

What intrigues me most, is trying to glean just what he saw - or didn't see - in players most fans thought were pretty damn good? LeSean "Shady" McCoy is one of the elite running backs in the NFL. Why did Chip Kelly opt for Dallas' Murray and San Diego's Matthews; both of whom have had checkered injury histories? Linebacker Trent Cole - now with Indianapolis, and is going into his 11th NFL season - was a key component for a middle of the road defense in Philadelphia. While they added Kiko Alonzo from Buffalo in the McCoy trade, and the competition for linebacker spots looks decent, Alonzo is coming back from injury.  So Kelly shifted from a solid veteran "maybe", to a second year linebacker with potential/injury "maybe"?


"...Kelly gave a contract extension in between raving about the veteran’s leadership qualities. Kiko Alonso is the only return Kelly managed to acquire while parting with LeSean McCoy,Trent Cole, Todd Herremans, Evan Mathis and Cary Williams. Meanwhile, Kelly has commented on how much time Mychal Kendricks missed last year with a calf injury."ESPN.com

While the 49ers have lost loads of players this off season, it's nothing close to Philly. Players left San Francisco of their own accord. Not so in Philly, where Chip Kelly has made sweeping changes based on his view of what kind of team he wants to coach... He signed a 5 year/$32 million contract in 2013 with the Eagles after flirting with Cleveland. In his first year, his offense piled up big numbers. Averaging 417.2 yards per game put the Eagles just behind Denver and Peyton Manning for the most prolific offense in the NFL. Nick Foles finished with 27 TD passes, only 2 interception, and a league best 119.2 QB rating. A more balanced attack than most thought would happen, Kelly's offense generated 2,566 yards on the ground, and 4,110 in the air. That's 6,676 yards combined, folks!

Then, it happened... Kelly wanted more. After a front office shake up left Kelly with more overall control of team direction, players began to to be shipped out, in what came to look like a wholesale house cleaning. In 2013, wide receiver DeSean Jackson had a career best 1,332 receiving yards. He was quickly shuttled out of town after the season. The most interesting - and for me, down right puzzling move - was the trade of LeSean Mcoy to Buffalo. Over the last two seasons, McCoy's production was fantastic: 2,926 rushing yards/694 receiving, and 16 touchdowns. The stat that may be hardest to replace though, is his 179 first downs over the last two seasons... Lots of moves have happened for the Eagles, but these two kind of set an interesting stage for what followed.

I'm actually enjoying watching what Chip Kelly does. He's kicking over the conventional wisdom table. He's in one of the toughest NFL fan towns though. So many would think the Philadelphia fans would be on the verge of rioting in the streets, right? Not so fast. SBNation's Eagles blog - Bleeding Green Nation - has run a month to month job approval poll regarding Chip Kelly. Take a look at the numbers:

So, do you approve of the job Chip Kelly has done as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles?
Chip Kelly Approval Polls:
Interesting? Add in Kelly's signing Tim Tebow to the quarterback mix, and at times it seems he's going to great lengths to keep the Eagles' fan base guessing? The Philadelphia media - long known for being one of the toughest crowds around - has been held in check by Kelly... For now, anyway. I can't help but think the media hounds in Philly won't allow Kelly much leeway going into the 2015 season. If his great experiment falters even the slightest bit, they're going to pounce on him...

I like the idea of a head coach attacking his job in his own way. Kelly's gone at this with his hair on fire, and foot mashing the gas pedal to the floor. "Great experiments" in the NFL are fairly rare. Conventional wisdom, and conservative moves are the standard for the most part. I'm rooting for Kelly to succeed, simply because he's created an air of unknown possibilities. Will he? I don't know, but it's going to be the biggest story line in the NFL for 2015. Now, let's sit back and watch...

*** A big thank you to Pete Dunbar for the great pictures!***