Philadelphia Eagles safety Chris Maragos recently told Bleeding Green Nation that the Seattle Seahawks were privately very happy when the Eagles were defeated by the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs as it meant the Seahawks would avoid playing the Eagles. Maragos was a part of the Seahawks roster in 2013 when they won the Super Bowl. Maragos stated that the Seahawks were concerned because the Eagles were “young, talented, aggressive and one of the teams we thought were really dangerous.” Maragos also stated that he would have rather played the San Francisco 49ers because the Seahawks “knew them so well” whereas he described the Eagles as “new stuff” that they “didn’t quite have a handle on.”
I found Maragos’ points very interesting, I will assume that this is true as I see no reason for Maragos to make it up and it does make sense. It makes me happy as an Eagles fan that the Super Bowl champions would have rather played the Saints or the 49ers over us. I believe there are a few reasons why the Seahawks would have wanted to avoid the Eagles in the playoffs:
1. The No-Huddle Offense
The Eagles ran an offense under head coach Chip Kelly that did not huddle; the Seahawks would have faced no huddle offenses before but would not have played against anything like the Eagles (as Chris Maragos said, the Eagles ran “new stuff”). The Eagles ran plays faster than any offense in the NFL and wouldn’t have allowed the Seahawks to sub players in and out on defense. The Seahawks rotated defensive lineman all the time as they had so many talented lineman. By rotating defensive lineman constantly the Seahawks defensive lineman were always fresh and raring to go when they were on the field; this helped them create a devastating pass rush. However, the Eagles no-huddle approach wouldn’t have allowed the Seahawks to sub their defensive lineman in and out, this could have caused the Seahawks lineman to be less effective as they would become fatigued.
2. The Eagles Offense Were Extremely Hard To Stop
This sounds like a pretty obvious statement. The Denver Broncos were statistically the best offense in the NFL last season, however their running game was not impressive and if you stopped their passing game you had a great chance to win the game. The 49ers had a fantastic running offense but their passing game was not very strong. The Eagles had the best running game in the NFL and were also a top 10 passing unit. There were games when the Eagles failed to run effectively (Arizona Cardinals week 13) but their passing game was good enough to win them the game. There were also times when the Eagles failed to pass effectively (Detroit Lions week 14) but their running game won them the game. This is why teams would have wanted to avoid the Eagles; they were not a one dimensional offense and you had to stop both the passing and running game.
3. The Eagles Defense Was Improving
Using basic statistics such as yards and passing yards you would assume the Eagles defense were a complete train wreck in 2013. However, except for an embarrassing performance against the Broncos where they gave up 52 points, the Eagles defense were pretty good and continued to improve as the season progressed. If you ignore the Broncos game, the Eagles gave up less than 20 points a game despite being on the field for an extremely long time almost every game due to the Eagles fast paced offense. The Eagles defense also did a great job creating turnovers; they forced 31 turnovers which ranked as the 4th best in the league. The only teams to create more turnovers than the Eagles were the Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals; all of these were in the top 6 defenses in the league.
4. Chip Kelly
Lets be honest, no one really knows what Chip Kelly is going to do. I struggle to think how you gameplan for an offense run by Chip Kelly because he does so many things well and does a great job hiding what he intends to do. He frequently runs a similar concept out of different formations and uses different personnel looks to make it extremely hard for defensive coordinators to recognize what he is doing. He makes it extremely hard for opposition defenses because of his fast no-huddle approach but also because he routinely stresses the importance of fundamentals. His offense rarely turned the ball over and his defense were extremely good at creating turnovers, Kelly understood the importance of winning the turnover battle and this helped him win a lot of games.
The Eagles offense will probably not have as much “new stuff” next season as teams would have had a whole off season to watch tape of the Eagles offense and what made them so successful. However, I expect Chip Kelly to introduce new concepts into the Eagles offense that defensive coordinators wouldn’t have seen before. I will not be surprised if next season the Eagles are once again the team that nobody wants to play.