The 49ers and Seahawks are two of the NFL’s best, it almost seems as if both teams are flawless and that there is just no way to compete with them. They just have it all. Both have elite defenses, both have a solid run game with solid offensive lines, and both have their franchise quarterback.
The Eagles may be on the rise, but if it’s one thing the city of Philadelphia wants more than anything, it’s a Super Bowl championship. If the Eagles plan to get there, however, more than likely they will have to go through Seattle, San Francisco, or even possibly both.
The good news is, the Eagles can do it, they can compete with the league’s elites with a few simple additions. Here are six positions the Eagles must improve at to bring a championship to Philadelphia.
Strong and Free Safety
In order to take the next step the Eagles don’t need just one, but two new safety’s. Safeties Patrick Chung and Nate Allen just aren’t the answer. The Eagles may be able to get by with one, but to become one of the elites, they will need two.
Just look at the Seahawks for an example, they have two pretty good safeties in Kam Chancellor and Early Thomas, both of which were ranked in the top 15 safeties on pro football focus. The Eagles safeties on the other hand had Nate Allen ranked at number 49, and Patrick Chung at 71.
The Eagles need that center fielder in the secondary, that “ball-hawking” safety if they truly want to take the next step. If the Eagles are lucky Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama, the best safety in the draft, could fall to them, and there will be a few safety options in free agency for the team to target.
The Eagles cornerbacks could definitely benefit from better safety play, but that won’t get them off the hook completely. Cornerback Brandon Boykin is solid, but cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Carey Williams, not so much.
The Eagles could definitely use another solid shut down style corner to play across from Boykin. You look at the best secondaries in the NFL and they have two solid cornerbacks. There should be quite a few options in free agency and the draft is pretty deep at the cornerback position. This won’t be a difficult position to upgrade at in 2014.
The Eagles have two pretty good defensive ends but then have just an average nose tackle in the center of the defensive line. To be great, you have to be great up front and right now the Eagles just aren’t that. They are good, but they certainly are not elite.
The Eagles need a Baltimore Ravens nose tackle, Haloti Ngata, type player to solidify their defensive line and turn it from good into elite. If the Eagles can control the line of scrimmage on defense they will be well on their way to elite Status.
Inside Linebackers Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are decent players, but here in Philadelphia we aren’t looking for decent, we are looking for elite, and to become elite the Eagles need to upgrade at least one of their inside linebackers. Kendricks will probably be safe due to the fact that he will only be in his third year, but the Eagle may need an upgrade from Ryans.
The Eagles could certainly use linebackers like San Francisco’s Patrick Willis or Seattle’s Bobby Wagner type player on their defense to help solidify the inside.
It is unknown whether or not wide receiver Jeremy Maclin will be back next season, and even if he does come back, he could be a different player and very well could injure the knee again. If Maclin comes back and he is the same player the Eagles don’t really need to upgrade here, but if he doesn’t they definitely will.
Besides wide receiver Jackson, there isn’t a huge threat in the Eagles receiving corps. Riley Cooper made some plays last season, but he can’t be this team’s number two wide receiver of the future. Wide receiver Jason Avant is the same way, he makes a few plays here an there and seems to be Mr. Ol’ Reliable, but his future can’t be here in Philadelphia.
The Eagles will need to go out and draft somebody and preferably somebody big that can win the jump ball and creates mismatches on the outside with opposing corner backs.
Notice that all but one of these positions are on defense. I’m not saying the Eagles are perfect on offense, but most of their problems were on defense this season.
The Eagles did well with what they had and surprised a lot of people. Unfortunately however, that element of surprise will be gone in 2o14. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will be back to full health, you can bet the Giants and quarterback Eli Manning will get back to playing better football, and the Cowboys are always a threat.
If the Eagles want to win the NFC East for the second year in a row, something that hasn’t been done since 2001-2004 when the Eagles won the division four years in a row. These upgrades will need to be made. It may take a few off seasons, but right now the Eagles are on the right track and could become one of the NFL’s best.