Five Reasons the Philadelphia Eagles Will be a Super Bowl Contender in 2014
Philadelphia Eagles 2014
Expectations for Philly in year two for key figures
Last season Chip Kelly took over one of the worst teams in football from the 2012 season. The change he implemented, immediately turned things around for the Eagles when they won their season opener against the division champions from the season before. After that the process was slow without the proper franchise quarterback in place, but once they found their man, it all clicked for coach Kelly's Eagles on the way to a division championship. Now the Eagles are returning most of that division championship roster from a year ago, to go along with some upgrades made this offseason, and they will look to avoid a letdown in 2014. What the Eagles have in place now as one of the better rosters in the NFL, creates some championship expectations for a team that has not won a championship since 1960. Here are the primary reasons why the Eagles have a solid chance of delivering for their fan base in the upcoming season, and bringing a football championship back to Philadelphia.
1. The Franchise Quarterback
When Nick Foles took over the starting quarterback position for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, the fans witnessed the most consistent quarterback play they had seen since the prime years of Donovan McNabb's career. Nick Foles proved to everyone in professional football, that he has the decision making ability, arm strength and accuracy to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. Nick Foles will have to prove that last season was no fluke, but he appears very capable of doing so while leading a strong Eagles offensive unit. A true franchise quarterback is often the biggest piece to the puzzle on a championship team, and the Eagles may have their man in Nick Foles.
2. Upgrades to the defensive backfield/pass defense
During the Eagles early transition last season, the safety position was a sore spot on a defense with a strong front seven. Nate Allen emerged as a decent starting safety for the Eagles last season, but they still decided to address the position with one of the better free agents available. The Eagles signed Malcolm Jenkins to play the free safety position and to start opposite Nate Allen. The Eagles also have Earl Wolff emerging at the safety position, and will have nice rotation to turn to in order to keep everyone fresh. The big offseason acquisition at cornerback for the Eagles, was Nolan Carroll who came over from the Miami Dolphins. While Carroll is not known for being a high profile defensive back, he does have skills and grit that the Eagles need at the position. In the draft the Eagles added Jaylen Watkins who has impact potential as an extra defensive back, and could develop in similar fashion to Brandon Boykin. The Eagles return regulars Brandon Boykin, Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher at a position that now seems to have some depth for this team.
3. Pass rush depth
Last season the Eagles defense was 20th in the NFL in sacks with 37 of them in 16 games played. This played a role in the struggles that their pass defense had last season, and Eagles management recognized this by addressing the need on draft day. First round pick Marcus Smith has a chance to make a huge impact as a very athletic pass rusher from the outside linebacker position. Vinny Curry should see more time along the Eagles front line this season, which will also give the Eagles a pass rushing advantage from their front three. The Eagles will continue to count on pass rushing ability from their starting outside linebackers in Trent Cole and Connor Barwin. With neither of them reaching double digit sack totals last season, keeping them fresh with a strong rotation at outside linebacker, could be the remedy for production problems from the group of Eagles defenders that rush the passer.
4. Wide Receivers playing for the team
Last season for the Eagles, DeSean Jackson was willing to make the plays that would increase his numbers, but when he was asked to block, the effort was not always there. DeSean Jackson is now no longer with the team, and the group of receivers that the Eagles currently have, are a group of men who understand the team concept. As big receivers, both Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper enjoy throwing blocks to help spring teammates into the second on screen passes or in the running game. Even though Maclin is not as big as Cooper or Matthews, he is a much more willing blocker than DeSean Jackson was last year for the Eagles. All three of these wide receivers want to produce for their team, but are willing to play hard even when a successful game plan uses them as a decoy. The wide receivers buying into the system and being good teammates, will go a long way towards creating strong team chemistry on the Eagles in 2014.
5. Everyone buying into the system
Players who did not buy into the system last year have been let go, and the Eagles go into the 2014 season with a roster that buys into what their coaching staff is trying to accomplish. The Eagles new system under Chip Kelly worked well last year, and coach Kelly proved that he can make the adjustments necessary to win with various personnel. The Eagles system requires everyone to be conditioned properly on the offensive side of the ball, because of the high paced no-huddle offense that they run. In an offense like this, the linemen could choose not to buy in because they may not be conditioned well enough to run with the high paced offense, but Chip Kelly has all of his players buying in completely. This will be one of the biggest factors that keeps the Eagles going as they face the adversity of a long NFL season.
Without every factor being mentioned here, the key components of a championship team have been highlighted, and the Eagles seem to pass the test. While Nick Foles may throw more than two interceptions this season, another season of great decision making from Foles, would solidify his spot as the new franchise quarterback of the Eagles. With the Eagles having one of the better rosters in the NFL, a great decision maker at quarterback can be the final piece to the championship puzzle. Ultimately the upgrades that the Eagles made over the offseason, along with having one of the best offensive lines in football, will be enough to give them an excellent chance to make a run at a championship in 2014.