NFL Preview Series: Philadelphia Eagles

Byron Dixon| BKD TV

 

Based on the transactions he made this offseason, Chip Kelly, at times, seemed like a raging madman who had no plan whatsoever. Most of his moves were quite puzzling. For instance, if he wanted to trade up for Marcus Mariota, why did he deal Nick Foles, whom the Titans were interested in? Why did he rip himself off in a trade for the most injury-prone quarterback in the NFL? Why did he cut one of the best guards in the NFL? Why did he acquire so many fragile players with extensive injury histories? Kelly is going to have to prove lots of people wrong, or else he’ll be out of an NFL job sometime in the near future.

While We Were Away: The Eagles were involved in three of the biggest deals this offseason. The first was the Foles-Sam Bradford swap, which never made much sense. When all things are considered, including durability, the two signal-callers are even, yet the Eagles surrendered a couple of draft picks in the trade. Foles was not a good fit for Kelly’s offense, but neither is Bradford. The latter makes a bit more sense because he’s slightly more accurate, but that just means that he’ll have to move around more often, which is major cause for concern because there’s a greater chance that he’ll get hurt. The other two mega deals both involved the running back position. First, Philadelphia traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills for Kiko Alonso in a heavily criticized move. A bit later, the Eagles signed former Cowboys’ runner DeMarco Murray to a 5-year, $40 million contract. The public had a positive reaction to the Murray signing, but they, along with Kelly, didn’t realize that they were getting damaged goods. Murray led the league in carries last year – he had 393, not including the playoffs – which is a bad omen. Running backs who have been atop the NFL in that category have almost always struggled the following season.

2015 Season Outlook: Jeremy Maclin leaving also sparked controversy, but that one was at least understandable. The Chiefs paid Maclin way more money than he was worth, so it makes sense that the Eagles let him walk. However, losing Maclin is a big deal, as he was one of the top receivers in the NFL last year, at least in terms of statistics. Maclin caught 85 balls for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014, but he couldn’t be counted on to stay healthy. His absence leaves Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor as the starting receivers. Matthews thrived as a rookie this past season, hauling in 67 balls for 872 yards and eight scores.Byron Maxwell was a strong contributor for the Seahawks the past few seasons, so the 6-year, $63 million contract was at least understandable. However, Maxwell had the luxury of covering No. 2 receivers in Seattle with Richard Sherman on the other side. How is Maxwell going to fare now that he’ll constantly have to battle top wide-outs? Philadelphia’s defensive front is exactly the same, with the trio of Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton slated to start again. Cox is one of the top 3-4 linemen in the NFL. He has no holes in his game, and he excels in all regards. Logan and Thornton don’t rush the passer well, but they are prolific when it comes to run support.

 

2015 Record: 7-9

Playing in the always tough NFC East will always be entertaining and cause for intrigue the whole season. The Eagles need to stay healthy at the QB position or they could be looking at Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow (who are paired once again) to get them into the playoffs. With Chip Kelly at the helm they will find a way to make their offense work, the defense should be better but is it good enough to get consistent stops when the offense gets into some tough spells? With Kiko Alonso, Fletcher Cox, and Byron Maxwell they have some pieces. Now only time will tell if they can make it back into the playoffs and win for the city of brotherly love.

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