If you watched a lot of NFL games in 2013, you know that the NFC East was one of the weaker divisions in professional football. Throughout the season, the division was often referred to as the “NFC Least.” Throughout the season, and especially in the first half of it, all four teams looked weak. That looks like it will be the case again in 2014, with one exception: the Eagles. That’s why the Eagles will win the NFC East again in 2014.
The Giants suffered throughout the season, due to quarterback Eli Manning throwing an inordinate amount of interceptions. The Cowboys were once again the posterboys for mediocrity, with quarterback Tony Romo continuing to show why he’s become known as a choke artist. The Redskins discovered quarterback Robert Griffin III could not come back from his knee injury as quickly as he’d hoped. The Eagles struggled on defense and with finding consistency at the quarterback position.
If you notice, a common theme in the issues for all NFC East teams last year was the quarterback position. Every single team’s quarterback struggled in 2013, until the Eagles found their answer in game nine against the Oakland Raiders. Typically, making the trek out west does not bode well for east coast teams. This game, however, featured Eagles quarterback Nick Foles returning from a concussion to tie the NFL record for most touchdowns thrown in one game at seven. Keep in mind that he did this in 3 quarters, while throwing no interceptions and posting a perfect passer rating.
The other common theme with all the NFC East teams last year was a weak defense. No team in the NFC East fielded a defense that placed in the top half in points allowed. The Eagles were the top team in the NFC East in that category and ranked 17th in the overall rankings.
After starting off slow, the Eagles defense seemed to find their stride midseason. Starting with game five against the New York Giants, the Eagles had a streak of nine straight games holding their opponents to 21 points of less. The Eagles defense made a point of capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes. The emergence of Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks and Eagles nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin as playmakers definitely helped.
Starting that with Foles’ emergence in game nine, the Eagles went on a 7-1 run to capture the NFC East title, with their only loss coming in a trap game to the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles were able to secure a spot in the wild card round of playoffs against the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately, that game ended in a heartbreaking fashion, with the Eagles losing by two in a game held on their home field.
The upcoming season looks like it could be even better. The Eagles don’t have the same questions that they did going into last season. Last offseason, the Eagles had to worry about how head coach Chip Kelly’s offense would work at the professional level, who the starting quarterback was, and how the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense would go. This year, the Eagles look like they will have a little more consistency (knock on wood) in all aspects of the game.
Also, the Eagles spent the offseason improving their subpar special teams unit. They made a point of pursuing players who were known special teams stalwarts, like former Seahawks safety Chris Maragos and former Texans linebacker Bryan Baman. While some teams neglect special teams, the Eagles want to have a 3-headed monster and want to field a team that is better than their opponents in all aspects of the game.
Barring any significant injuries, the Eagles look like they will field a better team than they did last year. While the safety position may still be an issue, the Eagles definitely upgraded from last year’s safety corps. 2014 will feature a better offense, defense, and special teams unit than they did last year. That’s why we can expect to see at least one Eagles playoff game in 2014.
Tags: Philadelphia Eagles