2013 Philadelphia Eagles NFL Team Preview
Odds courtesy of 5dimes.com
The Eagles haven’t made the playoffs in the last two seasons and this season probably won’t be an exception to that. The team does have a new head coach in Chip Kelly, and while that does bring optimism towards a new era, it doesn’t guarantee any modicum of success. Kelly did show a lot at the NCAA level building Oregon into an offensive powerhouse, but the NFL is a different game and Kelly finally will make the ascent to it after having been romanced by NFL teams in the past.
Kelly will have the team looking to play as fast as possible, and fortunately, he does have the personnel for this. Michael Vick and Dennis Dixon are both great dual-threat QBs who can make plays on the run. Kelly will look to run up to 100 plays per game, so it may be that he utilizes the most of his four quarterbacks, including Nick Foles and Matt Barkley. The Eagles may have their greatest strength in the variance, since at this point Kelly said the system will be designed around the QB who does emerge as the full time option. Vick is expected to start Week One, but his hold on the job in tenuous.
The Eagles do have good running backs in LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. McCoy had a falloff last season due to a poor OL and he also missed weeks with a concussion. He was a first-round selection in most fantasy drafts though and should have another productive season. He has great explosion and is tough to stop in the open field, and he’ll keep the ball moving while the Eagles seek to control the clock. Between McCoy’s prowess with the rush and Vick’s ability to move it afoot, too, the Eagles should be a potent team offensively.
Defensively, however, the Eagles are mediocre. The team is moving to a 4-3 and has a new coordinator in Billy Davis. Davis has previous experience in San Francisco and Arizona, and he focused a lot on pass rushing and versatility in his schemes. He wants to create an Eagles defense that attacks, but does he have the personnel to do it? Fletcher Cox is going to move from DT to end in an odd-man front, and he’ll move inside in the pass rush. The line lacks depth and isn’t high on talent, which is further problematic since the secondary is poor. The team did not re-sign Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie so instead of having two pro bowlers at CB, they will field the position with Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. Safety will be occupied by either Kenny Phillips or Patrick Chung, or last year’s starter Nate Allen.
The special teams could be better this season due to having more linebackers on the roster. Kelly hinted that Jackson may be doing some punt returning this season, and the improved ball position would help the offense greatly if he can withstand the added workload. Jackson averaged just 6.2 yards per return though in the last 18 attempts since 2011, so that allure may be short-lived. The team does have a good kicker in Alex Henery, as he set a team record by hitting 22 straight kicks and 88.9 percent on the year. Donnie Jones is also an excellent punter.
The Eagles don’t sound nearly as bleak once the full picture is layed out, and maybe they shouldn’t. The team has a coveted coach and a lot of talent to just write off altogether. Though the team won just four games last season, an improvement to even a .500 season would be constituted as a great success in the City of Brotherly Love. The love affair with Kelly likely won’t be rosy if the team struggles, but having Oregon’s offense with Vick running the show isn’t the least exciting offering a team could put on the field, is it?