The Philadelphia Eagles exceeded many expectations last year, by winning the NFC East Championship in new Eagles’ Head Coach Chip Kelly’s rookie season. The Philadelphia Eagles head into the 2014 season as many pundits’ favourites for the Divisional title once again. However, the Eagles may not have things all their own way in the coming season.
Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles benefitted from career years from the likes of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, running back LeSean McCoy, Eagles center Jason Kelce and ex-Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, yet only won the division in the final week. Will all of these players be able to play at the same level in 2014?
The team also remained remarkably healthy. Philadelphia Eagles Safety Earl Wolff missed a few games with a niggling hamstring injury, starting quarterbacks Michael Vick and Nick Foles missed a couple of games each, whilst wide receiver Jeremy Maclin missed the season with a torn ACL. These were the only key injuries that the team faced. Very few other teams in the NFL boasted similar injury records. Again, is that likely to continue next season?
The Philadelphia Eagles were also fortunate enough to be competing against three unusually poor teams last season. The Washington Redskins had injury concerns all season, particularly over their star quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Redskins also struggled with locker room harmony, leading to the firing of Head Coach Mike Shanahan at the end of the season.
The Dallas Cowboys were the Eagles’ strongest rivals last season, heading into the final game of the season as their only title rivals. The Cowboys entered that divisional title game without their star quarterback, Tony Romo, who was missing with a back injury. They entered the game with back up quarterback Kyle Orton, who had only played a few minutes throughout the season leading up to the key match up. The Cowboys defense also struggled under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who has since been demoted following a disastrous season.
The New York Giants also had a difficult season. Quarterback Eli Manning reverted to an interception machine and the roster struggled again with injuries and inconsistencies. A lack of depth throughout the roster highlighted the deficiencies on the Giants roster.
All three rivals have been active over the offseason, with the Redskins and Giants in particular getting much stronger. The Giants signed twenty-three players in three agency, greatly adding to the depth of their roster. Much rests on quarterback Eli Manning returning to form, hence the signing of Green Bay Packers’ quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo to be the Giants new offensive coordinator. I can’t see the Giants being as bad in 2014 as they were in 2013.
The Redskins have added firepower to their team, signing ex-Eagles star wide receiver DeSean Jackson. If new Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden can manage the locker room, the Redskins could have a very scary offense next year with wide receivers Jackson and Pierre Garcon alongside running back Alfred Morris.
Finally, the Eagles will also face a first-placed schedule next season. This includes games against the likes of champions Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers.
At this stage in the offseason, making predictions is almost worthless. After the draft we will have a much clearer idea about where the teams are headed. However, the NFC East will be amongst the hardest divisions to predict in football next season. Hopefully things will fall into place and the Eagles will continue to grow under Head Coach Chip Kelly.
However, imagine if the Eagles offense struggles in the early games whilst DeSean Jackson scores multiple touchdowns for the Redskins. The pressure would well and truly be on.
I can’t wait to see how this season unfolds.