Cleat Geeks

Bills & Eagles make a Smart Swap

Wednesday around 7PM, the news swept social media that the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles were in the process of finalizing a blockbuster trade; ironically enough on the portis11th anniversary of the Clinton Portis/Champ Bailey trade. This trade left both fan bases feeling uncertain. Some Bills fans were thinking “same old Bills”, as they had just gotten rid of a young star who many felt were robbed of Defensive Rookie of the Year just two seasons ago. Many Eagles fans thought it was idiotic that they had traded away one of the league’s premier running backs for a linebacker coming off of a devastating ACL injury.
If I’m a bills fan, I don’t see how anyone could dislike this trade. My grandmother played as many snaps as Kiko Alonso did last season, and the Bills’ defense didn’t look effected at all. They gave away a player that played no role on their impressive 9-7 season which featured a top 5 defense. I’ll be honest, when the news was released that Kiko would be lost for the entire season, I predicted that the bills would go 3-13. I felt he was responsible for a good majority of their little success during his rookie season. I was wrong. The defense was even better in 2014, and they played arguably better competition. In the later stretch of the season, they held both Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers to some of their worst games as a pro (Aaron Rodgers posted his lowest QBR in his NFL career). In two consecutive weeks, the Kiko-less Bills held these two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks to throw for a combined 50% completion rate (31/62), ZERO touchdowns, four interceptions and 358 yards (ESPN Stats). Pretty darn good for a team without one of their stars.
Obviously, anyone with some type of football knowledge would realize that the Bills defense didn’t look like it missed Kiko Alonso. The front office clearly recognized that and wasn’t afraid to trade him. He will be very easily replaceable in my opinion. Here’s why; he was a second round pick. Nigel Bradham, a solid linebacker who started on the strong side of the Bills’ defense was a 3rd round pick. Preston Brown, Kiko Alonso’s replacement for the 2014 season was also drafted in the 3rd round. Kelvin Sheppard was drafted in the 3rd round before being swapped for double digit sack man Jerry Hughes. What I’m trying to get at is that the Bills do a darn good job of scouting and developing linebackers. I’m not sure if their GM has some Madden cheat code punched in that shows the overall ratings of all linebacker prospects before the draft or what, but he does a great job of getting starting talent in the middle rounds at that position. I expect the Bills to draft another linebacker in around the 4th round just for depth purposes.

LeSean McCoy, one of the league's leading rushers over the past few years, is now a Buffalo Bill

LeSean McCoy, one of the league’s leading rushers over the past few years, is now a Buffalo Bill

Now, instead of looking what they gave up, let’s look at what the Bills received. Arguably the quickest running back in the league, LeSean McCoy is automatically an upgrade over Fred Jackson (I felt like CJ was going to walk regardless). I love what the Bills are doing. A lot of “experts” have the Bills drafting a quarterback in the draft, because that’s how teams like to fix their problems nowadays. What’s that Buffalo? Your offensive line was one of the worst in the league last year? You know what that means! Yup, go out and waste a pick on Brett Hundley or Bryce Petty! Let’s use our noggins, people. If you aren’t confident in EJ Manuel, a former first round pick with less than 20 NFL games under his belt, why in the world would you be confident in a 3rd round quarterback? You know who the only successful 3rd round quarterback is? Russell Wilson. Why? Because he has great players all around him. I think that the Bills are taking a page out of the Seahawks book on success. If you don’t have a prototypical franchise quarterback, then surround him with great talent to make him look good. The only team that drafts a new quarterback every year are the Cleveland Browns, and how does that work for them? For the sake of the poor people in Buffalo, don’t become the Cleveland Browns.
Now for the Eagle side of the trade, just because the Bills were fine without Kiko Alonso doesn’t mean that he’s not a great player. After watching his rookie year, I was amazed at how quickly he was able to read and react. His nose for the football is something that you can’t teach, and that’s what makes him unique. At times he seemed overmatched by the bigger, more physical players he went up against, but his athleticism and football IQ kept him on the field. I felt like he was robbed of the Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He was the heart and soul of that Buffalo Bills defense. He singlehandedly beat the defending champions in the Baltimore Ravens by making their entire offense look like a JV team. He also played for Chip Kelly in his college days, which I’m sure had something to do with this trade. Do I have concerns about his knee? Absolutely. But so long as he doesn’t become the next Derrick Rose, Eagle fans should be content with this trade.
What are the Eagles losing by giving up McCoy? Some delusional fans say that they got rid of him just in time because he had a down year. Apparently a down year in Philly is 1,300 yards and 5 touchdowns. Some people also believe that Chip Kelly’s offense can turn just an average back into a good one, and I don’t have any proof to refute that statement. There were rumors that Chip and LeSean didn’t get along, and others that he was too much of an east-west runner for Kelly’s likings. Or maybe Chip just didn’t like him because he didn’t go to Oregon. However, you cannot deny the fact that the Eagles got rid of a top 5 running back. Thankfully, running back is a position that is easily replaceable. Will they find another top running back within the next few months? Probably not. However, they should find a back that is good enough to replace some of his production. Whether it be through the draft or through free agency, the Eagles chose a good year to need a running back because both pools are freakin’ loaded with talent.

Chip Kelley and LeSean McCoy

Chip Kelley and McCoy


To wrap this up, I think that for the next few years we can say that the Bills “won” this trade. They got one of the premier running backs for little cost. The downside of getting a premier running back is that most only last for a handful of years. Probably next year, and the year after, and the year after, the Bills will benefit most from this trade. But 8 years from now, when Kiko is still anchoring that Eagles defense and LeSean McCoy is most likely retired, we will say that the Eagles got the better end of this deal. However, the Buffalo Bills cannot wait to be good anymore. The last time the Bills made the playoffs we were all gathering around a radio to listen to FDR give a presidential speech. This move automatically makes them a playoff contender for an AFC wild card spot.

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