Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - Philadelphia Eagles

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES                                       

2013 Record: 10-6-0

Key Additions: RB Darren Sproles; QB Mark Sanchez; OL Andrew Gardner; LB Bryan Braman; CB Nolan Carroll; S Malcolm Jenkins.

Key Losses: WR DeSean Jackson; WR Jason Avant; QB Michael Vick; S Patrick Chung.

HEAD COACH: Chip Kelly

Offense: The Eagles found a gem in quarterback Nick Foles, who took over as the starter last year and passed for 2,891 yards with 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions in eleven games. Former New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley will be ready in reserve.
Running back LeSean McCoy had a monster season, rushing for a league best 1,607 yards (5.1 ypc average) and scored nine touchdowns while also making 52 receptions for 539 yards and two scores. Darren Sproles (220 rushing yards along with 71 catches for 604 yards and four total TD with New Orleans) is on board in Philadelphia this season and adds versatility to the offense with his quickness. Chris Polk will carry the ball in mop up time.
The wide receivers get a big boost as Jeremy Maclin returns this year after missing 2013 with a knee injury. Along with Maclin is Riley Cooper, who had 47 catches for 835 yards (17.8 ypc) and eight touchdowns. Two rookies in the mix are Josh Huff (Oregon) and Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) along with Jeff Maehl, who played sparingly last season. The tight ends are Brent Celek (32, 502, six TD) and Zach Ertz, who made 36 receptions for 469 yards and four touchdowns.
The line has center Jason Kelce along with guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. The tackles will be Lane Johnson and Jason Peters.

STATS - The Eagles went for 417 yards per game a year ago, which was second in the NFL in total offense. They also scored just under 28 points per game, which ranked fourth. The running game was first in the NFL, averaging 160 yards per game. The passing game averaged 257 yards, which was ninth overall. The Eagles turned the ball over 19 times while their quarterbacks were sacked 46 times.

Defense: Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton are the ends in the 3-4 set while Bennie Logan will play nose tackle. Brandon Bair, Damion Square and Vinny Curry (four QB sacks) are ready to go up front as well.
The linebacking unit has Conner Barwin (five QB sacks) and Trent Cole (eight sacks) on the outside while DeMeco Ryans (four sacks) and Mychal Kendricks (four sacks and three interceptions) will play on the inside. Top rookie pick Marcus Smith (Louisville) will see action at linebacker as well as Emmanuel Acho, Brandon Graham, Bryan Braman and Jason Phillips.
In the secondary, Cary Williams (three picks) and Bradley Fletcher (two INT) will man the corner spots while Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen will play the safety positions. Brandon Boykin led the team with six interceptions last season and along with rookie Jaylen Watkins (Florida),  Nolan Carroll, Earl Wolff and Chris Maragos, will be ready to help out this season.

STATS- The defense was lackluster, especially against the pass. The Eagles gave up 394 yards per game, which was 29th overall. They also allowed 24 points per game (17th) while the pass defense was dead last in the NFL, giving up an average of 290 yards per game. The run defense allowed 104 yards per game, which was tenth overall. The Eagles did get 37 QB sacks and forced 31 turnovers, including 19 interceptions to go with twelve fumble recoveries.

OUTLOOK: It's hard to pick against the Eagles in the NFC East after the way they rolled down the stretch last year to win the division title under first year Head Coach Chip Kelly.
The offense is fast paced and can roll up the yardage and score points under the direction of quarterback Nick Foles, who was brilliant last season. The Eagles need more of the same from Foles again this year. Meanwhile, running back LeSean McCoy dominated the NFL last year, going for over 2,100 yards from scrimmage while leading the league in rushing.
If wide receiver Jeremy Maclin can come back from knee problems of a year ago, he adds to the attack along with Foles and McCoy. Throw in versatile Darren Sproles in the backfield and that adds to the mix of potent offense.
In other words, this team is loaded on offense.
The defense needs to step up, especially the secondary, which did get 19 interceptions a year ago, but was also torched too many times for a league worst pass defense in 2013. If the Eagles can right that problem area and also get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, they very well could be right there with Seattle, San Francisco and Green Bay as NFC favorites to reach the Super Bowl.
Another 10-6 looks to be in the future this season and that should be good enough for the Eagles to win the NFC East once again.
Whether or not they can get out of the first round of the playoffs this season will depend mainly on the defense and how much further progress Foles can make come playoff time.

Week 1- vs. Jacksonville
Week 2- at Indianapolis
Week 3- vs. Washington
Week 4- at San Francisco
Week 5- vs. St. Louis
Week 6- vs. NY Giants
Week 7- BYE WEEK
Week 8- at Arizona
Week 9- at Houston
Week 10- vs. Carolina
Week 11- at Green Bay
Week 12- vs. Tennessee
Week 13- at Dallas
Week 14- vs. Seattle
Week 15- vs. Dallas
Week 16- at Washington
Week 17- at NY Giants

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