We’ll be talking about the Philadelphia Eagles today on our breakdown of 32 NFL Teams. Chip Kelly has been the topic of discussion during the Offseason and whether his college-style Offense will hold up in the pros. Kelly’s high speed Offense led Oregon to a 46-7 record over the past 4 seasons with a lot of big game appearances. Some question if Kelly left Oregon because he knew that an NCAA suspension was going to be placed on him. The Eagles are looking for their first winning season since 2010 and for a return to the Playoffs.
Offense: Philadelphia ran the 15th best Total Offense last season, but turned the ball over far too often; notably 37 total fumbles. Mike Vick played in 10 games for the Birds last season, throwing 10 interceptions, and fumbling 11 times (5 lost). Vick did throw for 12 touchdowns and 2,362 yards, but some were impressed by the play of rookie Nick Foles. Foles threw for 1,699 yards, 6 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and 8 fumbles (3 lost) in 6 starts. He has a strong arm but many question if he’ll be able to execute Chip Kelly’s style of Offense properly. Notably the Eagles acquired Matt Barkley in the middle-rounds of the Draft. Barkley was the face of USC for his college career, but I find his arm too suspect at the time being. He has good accuracy but his ability to put zip on the ball needs to improve. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson will be the main targets for whoever is throwing the football. Maclin has been consistent when healthy, accruing 3,453 yards receiving with 26 touchdowns in his 4-year career. He led the team with 12 plays over 20 yards in 2012. DeSean Jackson suffered fractured ribs and missed time last season. Jackson hasn’t quite lived up to his elite level of play in the past few campaigns so, hopefully, the addition of Chip Kelly will get him back to his high number of explosive plays. Philadelphia has many other notables at Wide Receiver, such as Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Arrelious Benn and Greg Salas. All will be fighting for playing time as well as a roster spot throughout Training Camp, and the season. Brent Celek has been the starting Tight End for the Eagles for 4 seasons, being reliable for the team during that time scoring a total of 18 touchdowns. Celek and Zach Ertz, who played for Stanford and was selected 35th overall in the Draft, will receive the main playing time. Ertz was thought to be a Jason Witten style of talent entering the Draft, so Celek’s reign as the starter might soon be coming to an end. LeSean McCoy solidifies the Running Back position. McCoy was on his way to this 3rd straight 1,000-yard season until a concussion knocked him out of the remainder of the season. McCoy scored a total of 20 touchdowns in 2011 and will be looking to regain that form under Kelly. He’ll be a key player in how the Offense is going to be run in 2013. Bryce Brown and Felix Jones will be fighting for the roll as number 2 back. Brown had a lot of character issues coming into the NFL, but ran 115 carries, for 564 yards, and 4 touchdowns in his rookie year. Felix Jones never lived up to the hype of being the explosive 1st round pick out of Arkansas, so he’s looking to get a fresh start to prove he wasn’t a total bust selection. Jason Peters missed the entire 2012 season with a ruptured Achilles, so he needs to show he’s still a solid option at Left Tackle. For the future, Philadelphia drafted Lane Johnson 4th overall and he’ll start out his rookie season at Right Tackle. If Peters can’t hold up or struggles in this upcoming year, I’m sure the team will not hesitate to switch Johnson over to the left side. Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans should be the Eagles starting Guards. Notably, the Eagles still have Danny Watkins, who they selected in the 1st round of the 2011 Draft, but he’s not consistent enough to start. Jason Kelce is returning from an MCL injury and will be the team’s starting Center. Kelce is regarded to be an ideal fit for the Offense that Chip Kelly is bringing over. This is going to be one of the most watched and scrutinized Offenses in the league this year. If all can stay healthy, Philadelphia has plenty of playmakers who can score a lot of points in the upcoming season.
Defense: Philadelphia only tallied 8 interceptions in 2012, ranking 15th in Total Defense (23rd against the run and 9th versus the pass). DeMeco Ryans led the team in tackles (113 total, 14 for loss) and is the starting Middle Linebacker. He was brought in from Houston to be the leader of the Defense last year, and that’s just what he did. Mychal Kendricks will be his partner in the middle. Kendricks was taken in the 2nd round of the 2012 Draft. He started 14 games for the Birds during his rookie year with 75 tackles. Casey Matthews, brother of Clay, is still a back up on the team that cannot seem to find his way onto the field. Trent Cole had a shockingly bad season for the Eagles with only 3 sacks. It was the worst of his career and he’ll have plenty of pass rushing opportunities to redeem himself as Outside Linebacker in the 3/4. Connor Barwin was brought in during Free Agency to start at the other Outside Linebacker. Barwin was disruptive in 2011 with 11.5 sacks, but only managed to bring the Quarterback down 3 times in 2012. Everette Brown is attempting to rejuvenate himself at back up along with Brandon Graham. Graham has been a major disappointment since being selected 13th overall in 2010, only accomplishing 8.5 sacks in 12 total starts. He did tie for the team high in sacks with 5.5 last season. The Defensive Line is very big and powerful for Philadelphia. Fletcher Cox had a good rookie campaign with 5.5 sacks. He’ll get the nod at End along with either Clifton Geathers or Vinny Curry. Clifton is a huge player at 6’7 330 pounds, and has a football bloodline similar to Matthews. He’s seeing his 6th team in 3 years and is hoping to stick and contribute. Vinny Curry was highly spoken of during the 2012 draft, and was thought to have been a steal for the Birds in the 2nd round. He couldn’t find his way onto the field a lot during his rookie year, so he improved his strength over the Offseason to be able to fit the Eagles’ new Defense. The anchor of the 3/4 will be Isaac Sopoaga, who comes from the 49ers. Sopoaga will be solid for the team against the run immediately. Antonio Dixon might sub for him during pass situations. Fans feel that Dixon is a perfect fit at Nose Tackle for Philadelphia’s new look, so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs when given the opportunity. The Secondary for the Birds was totally rebuilt during Free Agency. Kenny Phillips, who was brought in to play Free Safety, has had trouble staying healthy and was a playmaker for the New York Giants. Patrick Chung will be starting at Strong Safety and was a key member of the Patriots over the past 4 seasons. If both of these players can stay healthy throughout 2013, they’ll be a strong pairing for Quarterbacks to face. Kurt Coleman is a notable back up who intercepted 7 passes over his 3 year career, as well is Nate Allen who hasn’t panned out for the Eagles since being drafted 37th overall in 2010. Fletcher Bradley and Cary Williams were signed to be Philly’s starting Cornerbacks. Bradley has injury concerns but is a good pass coverer when on the field. Williams won a Super Bowl with Baltimore in 2012, intercepting 4 passes. Brandon Boykin will more than likely have the duty of covering the slot receivers as he tries to prove that he shouldn’t have been overlooked in the 2012 draft. Some thought Boykin was the steal of the Draft in round 4, so he’ll be looking to have a productive 2013. The Eagles have a lot of great talent that is and isn’t proven. If some of the guys that haven’t lived up to expectations can step up for the team in 2013, they could turn out to be a nuisance.
End Result: I predict that Philadelphia will struggle going 4-12, while trying to lay the foundation for seasons to come under their new Head Coach.