2014 Season Preview: Philadelphia Eagles

2014 Season Preview

phi-eagles-HelmetPhiladelphia Eagles

Season Review

The Eagles did a lot of good last year. Many people, including yours truly, wasn’t sure how good Chip Kelly was going to be. Lets be honest. I still have a questions, since the NFL is a lot more restrictive when it comes to the Salary Cap than the NCAA. Kelly lead the Eagles to a 10-6 record, and now he is totally sunk into Nick Foles being a good QB and dumped DeSean Jackson. How will year 2 of the Kelly regime do?

Offense Line

All five guys return, so at least they don’t have to worry about much up front. With Jason Peters one of the best left tackles in the game, and beside him is Evan Mathis -who just happens to be one of the best guards in the game,
Jason Kelce is a solid enough center, and has a really good repore with Foles, and with Kelly’s offense, that’s worth a lot.
Todd Herremans is a good run blocker, but lets just say that Foles won’t do many rollouts to the right. Right Tackle Lane Johnson was the Number 4 overall pick last year. He wasn’t exactly Joe Thomas, but he wasn’t Robert Galley either. See Jaguars, this is how you build a franchise.

QuarterbackNick Foles

Vick is gone, for some reason Kelly just couldn’t get behind a guy who would have made Oregon a legend in the Pac-Whatever as long as he stayed. Foles is in a contract year, and with an eye-popping 27-2 TD to INT ratio that has only been seen when I play Madden, he could be in for either a major payday or a major fall. There is a ton of film on him now, and with a new QB coach and his top target gone, this could be interesting.

Running Back

McCoy still there right? All good. 1600 yards and 9 TDs of goodness. If that’s not enough, Darren Sproles comes over from the Saints just because the Eagles need someone that is just awesome in space and can catch the ball in stride. I seriously think part of this deal was just to make sure the Cowboys get the snot kicked out of them twice a year so they wont ever, EVER talk to Sean Peyton again.

ReceiversRiley Cooper

No Jackson? Whoa. No need for a guy with 82 catches, 1332 yards and 9 TDs. I guess Chip Kelly just told everyone he graduated? The third most productive guy, Jason Avant is gone too.
Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin are still around- Yay? The Eagles did drop a second and third round pick on the position, so this is gonna be fun for Nick Foles to try and make one of these guys make us forget Jackson.

Zach Ertz is the tight end, but if you missed him last year, might want to pay attention this year- he scored 4 TDs with only 36 catches, as he becomes more of a target, those numbers could get scary. He’s 6-5 250, so he’s a large target over the middle.

Defense LineFletcher Cox

Bennie Logan is a good run defender, but can’t make much of a dent in getting to the passer, that’s fine if he’s eating blockers, but . . .
Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton are on the outside, and Cox was the 12th overall pick in 2012, and really took to the switch to 3-4 like a duck to water, but Thorton didn’t preform as well,  much like Logan, he did well vs the rush but not so well against the pass. Cox could also get a few more sacks, and I think with more help from Thornton and Logan, Cox could be a star.

Linebacker

Conner Barwin and Trent Cole are the outside guys, and even though they combined for 13 more sacks than I had by myself, but the Eagles have Marcus Smith (first rounder) and Brandon Graham (Experience in 3-4) are waiting in the wings.
Demeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are in the inside, but say it with me now, were much better against the run than the pass. Ryans has lost a step, but he’s not going to be replaced since he is rarely out of position on early downs. Kendricks is just lousy against the pass.

SecondaryBranden Boykin

Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are the corners, but Branden Boykin gets a lot of play, and the Eagles really need to find a way to give him a role and put him out there more. Confused yet? So are the Eagles. Lets not play our best corner all the time, even though he got 6 picks, and play these two other guys who aren’t as good, but we have more confidence in.
Malcom Jenkins comes over from the Saints, and much like Darren Sproles, could make a monster impact. The Eagles are going to love this guy.
Earl Wolff did a fine job last year before he got hurt, and if he’s not back 100% then Nate Allen can be a serviceable replacement.

Special Teams:

Kicking is a problem- with former draft pick Alex Henery losing all confidence from the coaching staff. Punter Donnie Jones is not a problem, however, well worth his new contract. Chip Kelly has always spent a lot of time on his coverage and return units, and this Eagles team is no different.

Draft:

NOT A FAN

The Eagles had some serious secondary issues, and the round one pick wont start- after that is some serious carpet bombing on the WR position, and other than Jaylen Watkins- who could force his way into the secondary, I don’t see much help coming from this rookie crop.

Outlook:APTOPIX Lions Eagles Football

It all comes down to how to Nick Foles and his new WR corps come together. If the O-Line can do a repeat of last year, and with that defense, they have to, and McCoy stays 100% then the sky is the limit here. The defense is actually decent against the run- 10th, but dead last against the pass. So shoot-outs can happen against even simply above average offensive teams. Keep in mind they did lose to the Giants, Cowboys and Vikings last year.
I can see 5-1 in the NFC East, since they normally drop a game against a lesser team every year. 3-1 is a minimum vs the AFC South. They play the Colts in week 2, so I can see a loss there while they work on the secondary and get the rookies going. The NFC West is a tough road though, so I can see a 3-1/2-2 slate there. Bonus games with the Panthers at home and Packers on the road are both winnable games. Split the difference there? Can I say 12-4? Thankfully for the Eagles. The NFC East is so shabby, they don’t get long stretches of toughness- but do play the Panthers and Packers and if you add in the Texans before that, Foles might be a little tired.
Once the playoffs start, it all comes down to matchups. If they play the Seahawks, Niners or Panthers, teams that can slow them down and pound the rock against that solid run defense, they are going to have problems. They play all 3 of these teams- 2 of them at home, so it could be interesting to see what changes they make for the rematch. I’ll say they lose in the NFC Title game.

Second Look:

chip kellyEJ: The Philadelphia Eagles, and their quirky college coach, with this break neck speed of an offense took some folks by surprise last season. The question is: can they do it again? Nick Foles put up video game numbers last season with 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Let me go out on a limb and say he isn’t going to do that this season. Not saying Foles will be bad, but a fall to Earth has to happen. Shady McCoy also had an out of this world season. Now that Darren Sproles has joined the team, I’d look for some of McCoy’s impact as a runner and receiver to diminish a little. Sproles is going to take some of McCoy’s impact away, but he’ll also keep him fresher for a late season impact. Losing DeSean Jackson is a big deal. I didn’t agree with the Eagles reasoning for getting rid of Jackson then, and I don’t know, but keeping it on the field I don’t see Maclin, Cooper, Ertz, or any of the rookies they brought in matching Jackson’s impact at receiver or in the return game. That’s a loss for the Eagles right there.

The Eagles defense isn’t bad. It isn’t great, either though. As David mentioned Malcom Jenkins should make an impact for his new team and I do like Barwin and Cole at linebacker. However, I can’t pick most of this defensive squad out of a police lineup. I live in New York, I see the Eagles at least three times a season, and I can’t pick these guys out of a lineup. As I said it’s not a bad unit, but it’s one devoid of stars, or big name contributors. Then again, with an offense that can put up big points, and tons of yardage you don’t really need a defense full of huge names. You just need one that is good enough to stop the other team from putting up points and turning the game into a shootout.

OK. I love the offense, I respect but don’t really know too much about the defense. What’s the record? The schedule isn’t too difficult but I can’t go 12-4 like David said. Why? The NFC East won’t pose much of a challenge, and neither will the AFC South but this Eagles team face off against some good defenses in the NFC West and there are games against the Packers and Panthers as well. As a matter of fact I’m going to go out on a limb and predict the Eagles will go 1-3 against the NFC West, and in particular I don’t like their chances against the Cardinals in Arizona on Week 8. Yeah, the Eagles go into that game off of a bye, but for some reason I like the Cards in that game. At the end of the day I think the Eagles will win the NFC East but I can’t go any higher than 9-7 for this team. I think Foles falls back to Earth some, they’ll miss Jackson’s production and Shady McCoy won’t be as great this season. So, 9-7 and a NFC East title for the Eagles it is.

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