At the beginning of the year I though this Eagles team was good for 7 wins with the best they could do is get 9. Well they got 10 wins and an NFC East division championship. Given the way last years team performed to produce a 4-12 record and all of the turnover with the coaches and front office the Eagles had little pressure on them this season. The only pressure was to prove that Chip Kelly could coach and to see improvement from our players week to week. It is safe to say that the organization completed that goal and then some. Yes it stinks that an incredible season like this has come to an end but you have to be feeling good with the direction the team is heading in.
First off we had a QB competition to begin the season and both Foles and Vick showed that they were more than capable of leading this team. Vick won that job but later lost it to Foles due to a hamstring injury. Foles was able to lead the team to a 7-1 record over the teams last 8 games. We now have a pretty good feeling of who will be our quarterback for a little while longer. I would like to see Foles improve next year though. You may ask “improve? what else does he have to do?” and just simply point the finger at the stat sheet. It was clear in the teams last game and a couple of others that he does hold on to the ball too long when he can’t find an open receiver and ends up taking a big sack. This was especially critical in the teams last game. Another thing that I’d like to see him do is take control of this offense. When the team struggles to find a rhythm on offense it would be nice to see him step up and take control of the game, be a leader. But lets not forget what he did accomplish this season and for that I applaud him.
LeSean McCoy broke out in this system in route to setting multiple Eagles franchise records. He rushed for the franchises most rushing yards in one game, season, and had the most yards from scrimmage. I can’t figure out any reason as to why McCoy wouldn’t repeat this performance next year other than due to injury or the offensive line forgets to block.
After Jeremy Maclin went down in camp people panicked about or wide receivers and rightfully so. We needed someone to step up. Most people thought we should go out an acquire a wide out but give credit where credit is due. Chip Kelly stood by Riley Cooper as a viable threat as a receiver even after the racial slur incident. The season started off slow for Cooper but boy oh boy did he finish strong. We also got to witness the re-emergence of DeSean Jackson which was very nice to see after the two previous two disappointing seasons.
On defense there is really much more you could have asked for. The Eagles cleaned house at cornerback then brought in two players not know for a high level of play. Carey Williams helped bring back an attitude to the defense while playing better coverage than that of Asomugha and DRC so that was a nice sight to see. The other corner they brought in was Bradley Fletcher who also was very strong this season. Brandon Boykin continued to impress as the teams only slot corner and came up clutch when the team needed him to. The Eagles most definitely need an upgrade in the secondary but where it is most needed is at the safety positions. Nate Allen did improve as the season went on but Patrick Chung was terrible. We thought that Earl Wolff was going to be the answer back there but he got injured so we really don’t know what we have with him yet.
Perhaps the biggest improvement for this Eagles team came on the defensive line and linebackers. We made the switch to a 3-4 defense and it benefited. Cedric Thorton really flourished as a 3-4 end as well as Fletcher Cox. We brought in Issac Sopoaga because we didn’t have a nose tackle on the team but he was quickly ousted with the combination of his struggles and the break out of rookie Bennie Logan. These guys on the line quickly became a bright spot on this team.
At linebacker we brought in a tough pure football player in Connor Barwin which really helped us out a lot. When in Houston Barwin was primarily a pass rusher but when he came here he was asked to drop into coverage more often due to our teams lack of personnel. Barwin was consistent the whole year and really set the edge well. Trent Cole made the biggest switch in going from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker. Cole turned it on late in the season in regards to getting after the passer and he was great against the run much like his whole career all year. In the middle we pretty much knew what we were going to get. Both Kendricks and Ryans had their best seasons as Eagles and becoming leaders on defense.
Of course now that the season has come to an end there will be some things to discuss with keeping players, letting some go, possible free agent signings, and the 2014 Draft. Will they bring back Maclin or Cooper or both? Do they let James Casey go since they didn’t use him all to often? Do they cut or trade Demeco Ryans because he is getting older and has a lot of money owed to him? These are some of the decisions the Eagles will be faced with during the off-season.