Saturday, August 1, 2015

2015 NFL PREVIEW - Philadelphia Eagles

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES                                         

2014 Record:  10-6-0 (2nd in NFC East)

HEAD COACH: Chip Kelly

New Players in 2015 - QB Sam Bradford; RB DeMarco Murray; RB Ryan Mathews; CB Byron Maxwell; LB Kiko Alonso; WR Seyi Ajirotutu; WR Miles Austin; QB Tim Tebow; CB Walter Thurmond; DB E.J. Biggers; LB Brad Jones.

OFFENSIVE STATS in 2014 -  5th in NFL (396.8 ypg)

DEFENSIVE STATS in 2014 -  28th in NFL (375.6 ypg) 

Offense: The Eagles may be rolling the dice but they brought in quarterback Sam Bradford (injured for all of last season and most of the 2013 season) from St. Louis to be the starter.
In case Bradford cannot go once again this season, Mark Sanchez (2,418 yards passing with 14 TD and 11 INT) is capable of doing the job for the Eagles.
The main man in the Philly offense this season looks to be running back DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL is rushing last year with Dallas by going for 1,845 yards with 13 touchdowns and a 4.7 ypc average. He also caught 57 passes for 416 yards. Also on hand this season is another free agent, Ryan Mathews (330 yards, 4.5 ypc, three TD with San Diego in 2014) who has been injury prone during his five year career.
The Eagles lost their top wide receiver (Jeremy Maclin) in free agency for the upcoming season, but will have Jordan Matthews (67 receptions for 872 yards and eight TD), Riley Cooper (55, 577, three TD) and top rookie pick Nelson Agholor (USC) as the main targets along with tight ends Brent Celek (32, 340, one TD) and Zach Ertz, who caught 58 passes for 702 yard and three touchdowns. Miles Austin is another option in the passing game, coming over from Cleveland after making 47 receptions for 568 yards and two scores.
And of course, there is super diverse back Darren Sproles, who caught 40 passes for 387 yards and also rushed for 329 yards with six touchdowns and a 5.8 ypc average. In addition, Sproles led the NFL in punt returns with a 13.0 yards per return average and took two punts back for touchdowns.
The offensive line has center Jason Kelce, guards Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre and tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson.

Defense: Playing nose tackle in the 3-4 alignment will be Bennie Logan along with ends Fletcher Cox (four QB sacks) and Cedric Thornton. Another end is pass rush specialist Vinny Curry, who had nine QB sacks last season.
The linebackers are Connor Barwin (14 1/2 QB sacks) and Brandon Graham (5 1/2 sacks) with Mychal Kendricks (four sacks) and Kiko Alonso (out last year with knee injury) manning the inside spots. Backing up are Marcus Smith, rookie Jordan Hicks (Texas) and DeMeco Ryans.
Byron Maxwell left Seattle's famed "Legion of Boom" defense to come and play for the Eagles and will be one of the starting cornerbacks this season.
Maxwell intercepted two passes last year and will be joined by either rookie Eric Rowe (Utah) or  Walter Thurmond at the other corner spot. The safeties are Malcolm Jenkins (three INT) and Earl Wolff.
The secondary will possibly see three rookies get playing time this year as the Eagles selected Rowe, JaCorey Shepherd (Kansas) and Randall Evans (Kansas State) in the draft.

OUTLOOK FOR 2015 - Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly likes to be in control and the Eagles are letting him do just that as he will have Sam Bradford running the offense with three backs complementing the high octane passing atack.
Look for this team to light up the scoreboard once again in 2015 after scoring 474 points (3rd in NFL) last season. With so many options to choose from, Bradford may be on the verge of a breakout season after showing flashes of brilliance in St. Louis.
The problem is with the defense, which allowed 400 points last season and ranked near the bottom of the NFL in overall defense. The Eagles were 15th against the run and 31st against the pass so improvement is a must if they want to overtake the Cowboys in the NFC East.
Turnovers were a problem last season as well as the Eagles were a minus-eight in that category. Protecting the football is important and Bradford will have to keep the interceptions to a minimum while Murray and Mathews (the primary runners) will need to avoid putting the ball on the ground.
As long as the defense makes improvements in limiting the opposition while continuing to pressure opposing quarterbacks (Philadelphia was second in NFL with 49 sacks last year), the team should do just fine as the offense (barring any major injuries) is among one of the best in pro football.
The Eagles and Dallas should battle it out for the division title, so look for a 10-6 record this season, which might be enough to win the NFC East. A playoff appearance is likely, but there is little room for error in the rugged NFC this season.

Week 1 - at Atlanta Falcons
Week 2 - vs. Dallas Cowboys
Week 3 - at New York Jets
Week 4 - at Washington Redskins
Week 5 - vs. New Orleans Saints
Week 6 - vs. New York Giants
Week 7 - at Carolina Panthers
Week 8 - BYE WEEK
Week 9 - at Dallas Cowboys
Week 10 - vs. Miami Dolphins
Week 11 - vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 12 - at Detroit Lions
Week 13 - at New England Patriots
Week 14 - vs. Buffalo Bills
Week 15 - vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 16 - vs. Washington Redskins
Week 17 - at New York Giants

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