Life is never boring as an Eagles fan. 2014 promised so much but ultimately delivered little. Ok, so there were a few bright spots. The shutout against the Giants will be long remembered, some extraordinary special teams plays and finishing 10-6 should not be sniffed at. Unfortunately, no playoffs and sitting second in the NFC East behind the Cowboys is not a fun way to end things.
It has however been a fun off-season. The trading of Foles for Bradford caused a bit of a storm. The trading of McCoy for Alonso caused a virtual hurricane. The signing of Tim Tebow made us all laugh (although it looks like he may grab the 3rd QB spot from Barkley) and the prospect of Kelly trading the entire roster to get Mariotta in the draft had a few of us on edge.
Defensively there have been improvements across the board. There were clear holes in the secondary last year (both literally and figuratively) which Chip Kelly has addressed by essentially replacing the entire starting line up in those positions. Alonso brings extra strength to an already fantastic line-backer core and if Fletcher Cox can build on the success of last year then no QB should be safe from an Eagles pass rush.
Offensively, the signing of Murray is great move as we lacked a true north south runner last year (there is only so much of watching Shady dance in the backfield and then getting hit for a 5 yard loss I can take. OK! That might be me having a somewhat selective memory as well) and having him rotate in with Mathews and Sproles should mean that the running game is further improved. The loss of Maclin was tough at WR however Jordan Matthews continues to excite, the TE core is still good and the drafting of Agholor could prove useful. I have some concerns that the offensive line hasn’t improved which could put pressure on Bradford and, in turn, there are obvious worries over his fitness so how that plays out remains to be seen but I do believe he is a massive step up from Foles and should really excel in a Chip Kelly offensive scheme.
Looking at the schedule, it looks like the wrong year to be paired with a vastly improved AFC East. The Giants do look like they’ve progressed and Manning, Beckham and Cruz will likely test the new secondary quite a bit. Not much else jumps out until you, of course, get to the Cowboys who I suspect we’ll inevitably go toe to toe with all year.
Ultimately, IF Bradford stays healthy, I think the Eagles improve on last year and take the division with room to spare, 11-5 or 12-4. How far they progress in the play-offs in that scenario is anyone’s guess. The NFC is too competitive to say this far out and unless something drastic happens to Aaron Rodgers…That being said I did just put £20 on the Eagles winning the Superbowl at 20/1. Like I said, it’s never boring being an Eagles fan.
You can follow Eagles fan Chris on Twitter at @ck_warren.