The Philadelphia Eagles have had plenty of success in the NFC East and they are the defending division champions. What the Eagles haven't done that the rival Cowboys. Redskins and Giants have is win a Super Bowl. Is 2014 the season that will change? Here's a look at what has transpired for Philly so far this offseason and perhaps what to expect this fall.
Kelly Laughs Last
You might not remember it now, but Oregon coach Chip Kelly originally turned down the Eagles' job last winter, only to change his mind about 10 days later -- perhaps due to looming NCAA sanctions over the Oregon program and Kelly. The Eagles reportedly were ready to turn to Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley if Kelly hadn't done a 180. Bradley landed with sad-sack Jacksonville. Kelly won the NFC East as the Eagles finished 10-6 (8-8 ATS at sportsbooks).
Backers of Kelly thought his up-tempo offense would revolutionize the NFL, while Kelly detractors never thought it would work with all the additional speed on the field in the pros. The Kelly backers largely won. The Eagles ranked No. 2 in the NFL to Denver in total yards and fourth in the league in points at 27.6. The rushing attack was devastating, averaging 256.9 yards per game, 63 yards more than No. 2 Buffalo.
LeSean McCoy led the NFL with 1,607 yards on the ground, receiver DeSean Jackson had his best year (82 catches for 1,332 and nine TDs) and Nick Foles emerged as the team's long-term starter and perhaps a future star. He took over for an injured Michael Vick early in the season and kept the job. Foles led the NFL in QB rating, even better than NFL MVP and record-setting Peyton Manning. Foles had 27 touchdowns to only two interceptions.
Will Jackson Stay?
Vick was on a one-year deal in 2013 and played pretty well when in there, but he will not be back. Vick probably lands with the Jets to compete with Geno Smith. The question is whether the Eagles believe second-year QB Matt Barkley is ready to be a backup or whether they sign a veteran.
On the free-agent market, Philadelphia's biggest moves were in re-signing its own guys: receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin and safety Nate Allen (he started all 16 games), while also adding former Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. The Eagles are likely to look defense with their first-round draft pick.
Cooper had by far his best year in 2013 with 47 catches for 835 yards and eight scores. Maclin missed the entire 2013 season but is a major playmaker. In 2012 he had 69 catches for 857 yards and seven scores. Those two and Jackson should form quite a trio -- that is if Jackson stays. There has been talk the Eagles could trade Jackson while his value is at its highest. Jackson will count $12.5 million against the cap this year and the Eagles will have $24 million dedicated to receivers, which is a huge number. Jackson tends to always want new, bigger deals and probably wants a new extension after this season if it's another big year.
Sproles A Perfect Fit
The deal that has brought about a ton of buzz in the NFL was the Eagles trading a fifth-round pick to New Orleans for running back Darren Sproles, who seems to be the absolute perfect fit in Kelly's offense. As recently as 2011 Sproles set an NFL record with 2,696 all-purpose yards. He's the best pass-catching back in the league, totaling 232 catches and 16 receiving scores in three years with the Saints. He will run the ball on occasion, but not more than a few times per game.
Kelly’s offense relies on backs with sure hands who can catch short-to-intermediate throws out of the backfield. Now he has two in Sproles and McCoy. Imagine how spread thin the defense will be when the Eagles line up Jackson, Cooper, Maclin, McCoy, Sproles and tight end Brent Celek on the same play. At least one of those guys is going to have a major mismatch while being guarded by a linebacker or lineman.
NFL free picks: The Eagles have an opening wins total of 8.5 on NFL odds. Offensively this group looks dynamic, although having a better No. 2 QB would be nice insurance as Foles hasn't exactly proven he's made of steel yet. Still, we lean over that total for sports bettors as things stand and Philly should be the favorite to win the NFC East again barring any catastrophic injuries (or suspensions) this spring/summer.