Sep 1, 2013; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals defensive end Marcus Smith (91) warms up before the first half of play against the Ohio Bobcats at Papa John

Philadelphia Eagles: Next “Big Thing”?

The countdown to football has begun, and it could not go by any slower. Each day it takes to get closer to game day is well worth the wait. Thirty-two NFL teams prepare for the impossible task of finishing the season as NFL champions, and every player should be using this time wisely to help reach the ultimate goal. The success of a team is dependent on meticulous preparation, strenuous training, excellent coaching, and great players.

It is debatable that some “team sports” does not rely much on the team aspect more so than it does a couple of superior players in order to have great success. Professional football, however, is not one of them. The concept of team is heavily emphasized in the NFL, although having one or two players that are superior at their position can quickly turn the tides in a football game. Team chemistry – team cohesion, team skill and talent, and the most coachable team tends to find the success. Of course, actual good coaching is key as well. Add to that formula, a couple of superior players and that will help stack the odds favorably for a team to win.

The Philadelphia Eagles are not without superior athletes. Everyone knows this. The obvious star currently on the team is none other than running back LeSean McCoy – who, by the way, is the best back in the league. Another star the Eagles employs is, left tackle, Jason Peters, who is top two at his position, depending on the season. The final star, which by definition he may not be because he sometimes goes unnoticed, is offensive guard, Evan Mathis.

The Eagles are loaded with talent – this is undeniable, but how many stars do the Eagles currently have? “Star-wise”, neither LeSean McCoy nor Jason Peters, or Evan Mathis can ride the Eagles to the Super Bowl, but no one is asking them to. They do their part and then some. Perhaps people are asking for other current Eagles to step up – elevate their game to the next level.

I am of the belief that quarterback Nick Foles is “star-bound”, and by next season’s end, he will have cemented his NFL superstardom. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews guaranteed upside is enough to make any fan’s mouth water at the potential of what he will become. Defensive end Fletcher Cox and especially defensive end Vinnie Curry has the “stuff” needed to take over a game, and become household names. The Eagles has many good players sprinkled throughout the roster, but unfortunately may not have many great – or star – players. This team is still good enough to ride into the playoffs and be a serious threat to contend. Two or three more players that rise up, and become superior at their position will only make that ride easier; more dominating.

Nickel corner, Brandon Boykin is the closest thing to the next star I believe the Eagles have, and that’s not bad. He is a helluva player, and does not know how small he is. He is a gunner, a miniature shutdown, and an incredibly gifted, intelligent athlete. Sixth-round pick, center Jason Kelce, is just touching the outer rim of being a star player, and he too may take a great leap forward next season. The Eagles can definitely use more stars, and there is some worry that that player may not be on the roster yet.

Offensively, the Eagles are in great hands. Head Coach Chip Kelly is precisely who we thought he was – if not better – and came exactly as advertised. On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles are competent, consistent and gaining an edge. The offense already has three stars, and two or three more on the way. The defense, unfortunately, has none.

Outside of the city of Philadelphia, there is not one name on the defense that immediately comes to mind – at least not in a good way. This is where, I believe, a star can be born. General Manager, Howie Roseman, seems to be a draft wizard, and good at bringing in free agents to fit what Philadelphia is doing. He lauds the organization’s ability to build from within, and regularly resign and retain serviceable, good pieces. He pulled the trigger on first-round pick linebacker, Marcus Smith II, and it is possible that Smith can become that next big thing on defense. Smith’s cohesiveness, skill, talent and openness to learn will tell how much success he can bring the team. Maybe he is that piece – or can certainly develop into that piece – but someone (or two or three) on the defense needs to step up in a damn big way because the Eagles are bracing to peak. A team like Philadelphia can be laden with unmatchable talent on one side of the ball and make out just fine. Then again, how much would that really matter?

Just ask the Denver Broncos.


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Tags: Brandon Boykin Chip Kelly Evan Mathis Jason Kelce Jason Peters LeSean McCoy Nick Foles Philadelphia Eagles

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