The Philadelphia Eagles finished their 2013-2014 NFL season in devastating fashion. A Wild Card playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints in front of their home crowd was tough. The season ended with a home playoff loss, but the fact that they were even in the playoffs was highly commendable. I didn’t expect them to sniff the playoffs.
The Eagles first season under new head coach Chip Kelly was a successful one. Kelly led the Eagles to a 10-6 record behind the play of Nick Foles at QB. Coming into the season, I pegged the Eagles to win no more than 6 games. Michael Vick began the season as the starter, but after a 1-3 start many felt it was just going to be a “rebuilding year.” Prior to the start and subsequent injury to Vick, I already had low expectations.
The system Kelly would run was a question and the personnel (coaching & players) moves were another question. The level of uncertainty with Kelly was both a gift and a curse. Everyone in Philadelphia was used to Andy Reid and how he did things, but many were ready for a new direction. Kelly brought a new direction and style for how he ran his team on Sunday’s and during the week at practice. Apparently the team fell in line.
Foles, along with Pro Bowlers LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson led the Eagles to the 2nd ranked offense in the league. Foles led the NFL with a 119.2 QB rating, McCoy rushed for a career high 1,607 yards, and Jackson finished with career highs with 82 receptions and 1,332 receiving yards. They also had key contributions from Riley Cooper.
The offense played it’s part, but the defense wasn’t that great. It was expected with the Eagles switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme that they had some learning and growing to do. They brought in Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Patrick Chung, and Kenny Phillips to “upgrade” the secondary. They also brought in Isaac Sopoaga and Connor Barwin to bolster the front 7 and help with their pass rush.
Needless to say, the secondary was the worst in pass defense in the entire league. Phillips is no longer on the team and Brandon Boykin led the team with 6 interceptions. Sopoaga was traded by the deadline and Barwin finished with only 5 sacks. In only their first season in the new scheme, the Eagles had some bright spots with many forgettable moments. They will learn and get better.
I don’t recall many media outlets predicting an Eagles playoff appearance before the season began, if any. Yet, they bought in to Kelly’s system and had a surprising and successful season.
What will they have in store for Philly in 2014?
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