Kelly makes case against tanking

October, 30, 2013
10/30/13
12:30
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles coach Chip Kelly has heard the talk suggesting his team would be better off losing games this year in order to have a shot at a franchise quarterback in the 2014 draft.

Kelly's reaction: Thanks, but no tank.

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Kelly
"We're all about winning games," Kelly said Wednesday. "If we start planning long term, I might not be here long term."

Shifting his focus toward next year?

"It doesn't come in," Kelly said. "It's about beating Oakland. That's it. It's a one-week season, and that's all there is. Last week, it was beating the Giants. There wasn't, 'Hey, what are we going to be like next year, let's active G.J. (Kinne, the practice squad quarterback) and throw him into the mix.' That's not our mentality."

Talk of tanking is in the air for many reasons. Fans see the instant turnaround effected by teams with elite young quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. Meanwhile, across the street, the Philadelphia 76ers are almost openly conceding the 2013-14 season in an effort to get a possible franchise star like Andrew Wiggins in next year's draft.

But there are huge differences between the NFL and the NBA. NFL careers are much shorter, the game is much tougher and the contracts are not guaranteed. That makes it much harder to ask LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jason Peters and the rest to risk injury and sacrifice a season of their brief careers for the uncertain promise of a high draft pick.

"I think it's a disservice to those other players on the team and it's a disservice to our fans if I'm thinking about who our quarterback is going to be next year," Kelly said. "I'm thinking about beating who we're playing this week. We're playing the Oakland Raiders and that's it."

Fans and media can discuss the possibilities of adding Kelly's Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariota, or Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater or Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel. But it's impossible to know which of them will declare for the draft or how they will fare in the grueling NFL evaluation process. Eighteen months ago, USC's Matt Barkley was considered a high first-round pick. He stayed for his senior season and wound up being the No. 1 pick in the fourth round.

NBA superstars are almost impossible to get without drafting first or second. But NFL franchise quarterbacks can be found all over the draft or through free agency. Luck and Griffin went 1-2 in the 2012 draft. Wilson was a third-round pick. Colin Kaepernick was a second-round pick. Aaron Rodgers went 24th in the 2005 draft.

It may turn out the Eagles would have been better served taking a quarterback like EJ Manuel or Geno Smith in Kelly's first draft. There is no guarantee they will do better in the 2014 draft. But that's true whether they go 3-13 or 11-5 or somewhere in between.

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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