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Know Your Enemy: Philadelphia Eagles

If Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick can stay healthy, he will have the opportunity to run an offense suited to his strengths with Chip Kelly calling the shots.

If Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick can stay healthy, he will have the opportunity to run an offense suited to his strengths with Chip Kelly calling the shots.

Fly, Philadelphia Eagles, Fly

After a disappointing 4-12 campaign, longtime head coach Andy Reid was shown the door. In walked Chip Kelly, lately of Oregon, with his up-tempo offense.

In concert with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who comes to Philadelphia from the Cleveland Browns, Kelly looks to resurrect an offense that scored only 17.5 points per game last season and gave away a whopping 37 turnovers. Under quarterbacks Michael Vick and Nick Foles, they averaged 236 passing yards per game (14th in the league), while running back LeSean McCoy led a rushing attack that averaged 117 ypg (13th).

Defensive coordinator Bill Davis spearheads the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 alignment. Last year Philadelphia forced only 13 turnovers, gave up 27.8 ppg (including seven touchdowns off turnovers), allowing 216 ypg passing (9th) and 126 rushing ypg (23rd).

“That -24 turnover ration put the Eagles’ backs against the wall despite their considerable talent — which, come to think of it, is not so different from another team we know and love.

Strategic Threats

Weaponry

Chip Kelly has access to plenty of weapons for his up-tempo offense, but the production hasn’t always matched the talent.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin stepped up with 857 yards and seven touchdowns last year but is lost for the 2013 season with a torn ACL. DeSean Jackson finally got a contract and added 700 yards but only two touchdowns. Arrelious Benn, Greg Salas, and the embattled Riley Cooper must step up big time.

Brent Celek is a solid tight end with 684 yards and one touchdown in 2012.

Running backs LeSean McCoy and former Dallas Cowboy Felix Jones will catch some passes out of the backfield as well.

Offensive line

This was a position of weakness in 2012 and caused a lot of offensive struggles. However, major additions have been made from not only the draft but also from an infusion of players returning from injury.

Jason Peters returns to left tackle after a nasty Achilles tendon injury that was aggravated by a defective rolling walker. Peters is a stud who only gave up three sacks, one hit and 17 hurries in 2011, grading out at +13.1 run blocking per ProFootballFocus (PFF).

Center Travis Kelce will be back at center after only playing 158 snaps in 2012. Backup center Dallas Reynolds struggled, whereas Kelce had posted a +3.9 grade run blocking and +1.2 in pass blocking.

Rookie Lane Johnson (fourth overall), who has immense athleticism and potential, assumes the right tackle position.

Evan Mathis is a dominant guard, receiving a stellar +31.8 mark in run blocking grade and +14.8 in pass blocking.

Veteran Todd Herremans returns to his natural guard position after putting up decent numbers (+7.2 run blocking, +2.9 pass blocking) at tackle/guard.

Third-year guard Danny Watkins returns to the bench after struggling in 2012 but returns to the bench at guard.

Pass rush

Despite switching to a 3-4 defense, this team still has plenty of players who can rush the passer.

Second-year lineman Fletcher Cox moves to 3-4 defensive end after playing 4-3 defensive tackle. He registered 5.5 sacks, six hits, and 14 hurries last year and received a +0.2 run defense grade. He should only get better.

Trent Cole has been a menace at defensive end but now switches to outside linebacker. He had a down year in 2012, only recording three sacks, 13 hits, and 29 hurries (+0.1 in run defense), but he was consistently able to get to the quarterback. The 3-4 alignment could help Cole take advantage of his speed.

Linebacker Brandon Graham netted 5.5 sacks, seven hits, and 31 hurries, as well as a +4.6 run defense grade. By contrast, veteran Connor Barwin faltered, grading out at an abysmal -24.7 in pass rush and -0.6 in run defense.

Running back

It’s a testament to how good he is that running back LeSean McCoy, even in a down year, ran for 840 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Bryce Brown added 564 yards at 4.9 ypc. This year, speedy back and return man Felix Jones joins the unit.

Coupling the versatile talent in the backfield with the offensive line upgrades means that Philadelphia should run the ball well. Ball security remains a concern, as McCoy and Brown each lost three fumbles in 2012.

Uncertainties

Quarterback

There’s no question quarterback Michael Vick has talent and mobility. The problem is he has a hard time staying healthy and needs to become a more reliable pocket passer. He only completed 58.1 percent of his passes, throwing 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, in 2012. He also lost a number of fumbles running the ball and in the pocket.

Backup Nick Foles doesn’t have the mobility Chip Kelly looks for in a signal caller, but Philadelphia shouldn’t be looking to give up on him.

Dennis Dixon, whom Kelly coached at Oregon, joins the team to help teach the offense by example. Rookie Matt Barkley, drafted in the fourth round, is a developmental project after a productive career at USC.

Inside linebacker

DeMeco Ryans, an excellent 3-4 (+5.2 run defense, -0.8 in coverage), returns to the position he played in Houston. Second-year player Mychal Kendricks must step up after a subpar 2012 campaign (-7.2 run defense, -0.3 coverage grade) in 2012.

Soft Spots

Secondary

The Dream Team secondary underwent a major overhaul in 2013 and now features new starters.

Cornerback Carey Williams brings his Super Bowl-caliber talent from Baltimore, and has proven he can lead a lackluster cornerback corps. Oft-injured Bradley Fletcher has talent and size and is a good player when healthy.

Starting safeties Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen have been relegated to the bench for new additions Patrick Chung (former New England Patriot and Oregon Duck) and Kenny Phillips (former New York Giant). The newcomers have done well in this league, but Phillips needs to stay healthy.

Second-year player Brandon Boykin did well at the nickel back position last year.

Readiness Evaluation

A -24 turnover differential will result in a 4-12 record. (For that matter, so will a -16 turnover differential.) They have the talent, but Philly must protect the football and their quarterback and offensive line must stay healthy if they are to win games.

Given the major overhaul they’ve undergone, it’s hard to judge them coming into 2013. They will be fielding a style of offense rarely seen in the NFL. Will it work for the first-year head coach?

The Eagles will play the NFC North late in the year, so health and the City of Brotherly Love cold will be factors. They travel to Green Bay
Week 10 and to Minnesota Week 15, while hosting Detroit Week 14 and Chicago Week 16.

Will the Eagles soar in 2013 or crash land yet again?

1058 comments
ARodge is the GOAT... Fact.  Period.
ARodge is the GOAT... Fact. Period.

"What if I was to say you brush your teeth with penises?" - BSL

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First, I'd retort: "Your mother sucks cocks in Hell!!"

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Then, I'd say: that reminds me of a good joke.


Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

3 and 1/2 hours until I embarrass myself with shitty drafting again.

Chocolate Fizzy
Chocolate Fizzy

Fantasy is ok. My family likes to do it and my grandpa is really into it so i dont mind being commish.

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

Is everyone ready for the draft with the least integrity in the history of the world?

The NBA.

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

@Maized and Confused I plan to talk about cocks a lot this evening. Mainly how many you guys enjoy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Will that offend your fiance? What if I was to say you brush your teeth with penises?

rajigunderson17
rajigunderson17

silly people reading the article. Of course I knew it was a preview...... 

*shifty eyes*

gubby  The Mod's Mod
gubby The Mod's Mod

When I was a kid, all the neighborhood kids would go outside and play baseball or football, depending upon the season.  Well, not all the kids.  Some would stay indoors and play dungeons and dragons or read Lord of the Rings for the third time.  I remember sitting in the dugout once and looking at this kid who was all excited about keeping the score-book for the baseball team and thinking he's not like the rest of us.  I realized at that moment that unless I became a paraplegic I would refuse to become one of those kids who fell into the scorekeeper/dungeons and dragons crowd.  I understand I am not gonna win anyone over on the internets populated with geeks and compulsive masturbators, but I still believe 20 years from now most of you will deny you ever played fantasy sports with the same fervor Peter denied Christ,  or A-Rod denied PED use, or I deny ever wearing parachute pants.