Will the Eagles be Any Good?
I'm a believer in the magic of Chip Kelly.
Watching the preseason this year for the Philadelphia Eagles has been like riding a roller coaster. With a blindfold on. At midnight. It seemed as though nobody but Papa Chip himself knew where the team was going to end up, and still nobody knows if after all the shenanigans they have improved. Here's a quick breakdown of the switches, to try and compare the two teams.
Running Back: Positive
Out with Shady, and in with the Legion of Zoom. At the very least they stole DeMarco Murray, the reigning yards champion, from the Cowboys (and the defensive line will be thankful during the two games against them). Letting McCoy go was certainly a move that ruffled some feathers in Philly, but most people would agree the backfield looks stronger than ever. Add in the wildcard factors of Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews, who carried the ball 285 times for the Chargers in 2013 for an average of 4.4 yards, and you've got some serious legs. The team is going to bank heavily on the success of these three from the line of scrimmage, and Chip hopes that this running threat will open up the long ball for an inexperienced Bradford.
You can argue with me on this one, but I thought that Foles could've been a great quarterback after coming off his injury. He certainly wasn't producing in his Sophomore effort at the same level Eagles fans grew accustomed to in his first year in Philly, but he has the potential to carry a team down the line, once he gains some experience and an offensive line slightly less porous than Swiss cheese. Bradford will bring some strength to the position, but he's still coming off of a serious ACL surgery, and recent reports have declared his knee is not "remotely close" to full recovery. He has Sanchez behind him, who finished the 2014 season 4-4 as a starter, and Tim Tebow, who hasn't seen action since the 2012 season with the Jets.
Who wouldn't be excited to add Kiko Alonso to an already star studded roster on the Eagles? He was third in the NFL in his rookie season in tackles (159) in 2013, and after missing all of 2014 due to injury he's almost fully recovered. Add him to the likes of Mychal Kendricks and Demeco Ryans, and you have a trio of Pro-Bowl worthy Linebackers. Oh, and don't forget Connor Barwin, ranked #58 on the ESPN Top 100 NFL Players List, the heart and soul of the defensive line. Watch out, Eli. This team is coming after you with a vengeance.
Secondary: Major, Major Positive
You know what they say: when you're at the bottom (31st in the league, second only to Atlanta) there's just way more room for improvement. The Eagles went out and signed three veteran defensive backs to make up for their abhorrent coverage last year, including Byron Maxwell from the Seahawks, and it looks like they'll be able to hold down the passing game much better this year. Combine that with the sturdy run protection, and you've got a defense to be reckoned with.
The Eagles have sorely missed the long threat since DeSean packed up for Washington, and their situation wasn't improved when Jeremy Maclin fell early to injury. Chip did away with the whole program, and decided to bring in fresh faces to acquaint themselves with his high-octane offense. Most notably is USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor, the twentieth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Bicknell, the Eagle's receiving coach, has had only positive things to say about his performance thus far in the preseason, and looks forward to opening day.
Eagles 2014 Season Record: 10-6 (missed playoffs)
Eagles 2015 Projected Record: 11-5 (NFC Championship)