Chip Kelly is not afraid to do things his way. That much we do know about the conservative head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Chip is so secretive about his team and his personal life that no one knew he was married for seven years while at New Hampshire. One thing Chip has constantly preached is that “culture will beat scheme every day.” This has led to the controversial realease of DeSean Jackson and trade of LeSean McCoy. Jackson and McCoy are not helping their cases with this culture change in Philadelphia. McCoy wanted to throw a party for 21 and older females in a secret location last week. The girls would have to provide photo identification in order to be given the address. Yes, I think you know where this was going. Although he later opened it to the public, McCoy showed that he has growing up to do. Kelly then decided to trade Nick Foles and a second round pick for Sam Bradford, and DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell in free agency. Kelly would also go on to release pro bowl guard Evan Mathis because he wanted to restructure his contract. It is either you are all-in with football or you are no longer an Eagle. Chip Kelly also decided to let Jeremy Maclin go to Kansas city in free agency. Has any team ever gotten rid of five pro bowl players in the matter of two off seasons? With so much roster turnover, Kelly is trying to show that his offense is so good that it does not matter who is playing in it.
To fully evaluate the Eagles’ chances in the 2015-2016 season, you must compare where they stand this year compared to last year. As a whole, the defense has improved. They added Kiko Alonso, who is coming off an ACL tear, but is great value for trading LeSean McCoy. He will be starting in a stacked linebacker rotation along with DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Byron Maxwell was added in free agency and is an upgrade over the putrid Bradley Fletcher and Carey Williams. Putrid may be a compliment for Fletcher after he got torched by Dez Bryant for three touchdowns in the Eagles’ biggest game of the season. The question is, how good is Maxwell without the legion of boom around him? If he plays the equivalent of his pay, then this is a major upgrade. Other than that, the secondary is largely the same. They lost a solid slot corner in Brandon Boykin just a couple of days ago which will hurt, though. The front seven may be the strongest part of this team. Last season, the front seven was second in the NFL in sacks and allowed only one 100 yard rusher. Connor Barwin had a career year contributing 14.5 sacks. With a relatively young defensive front, expect them to improve upon a great season last year.
The offense is the one that is hard to judge. Under a very average combination of Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles the Eagles were third in the NFL in points per game. Now you add in Sam Bradford who may be the biggest question mark in the NFL. You know he has the skillset or he would not have been the number one pick. At the same time, he has not exactly lit the world on fire with his career 58.6 percent completion percentage and 40.7 QBR. Also, he has only appeared in seven games the last two seasons. So for know, you just cannot judge if that is an upgrade. The offensive line has taken a step back. The Eagles are the only team in the NFL not to draft an offensive lineman the last two years and just let two of their starting guards go. The wide receiving core has Jordan Matthews who had a good rookie season but was overshadowed by how phenomenal Odell Beckham Jr. played. They added Nelson Agholor who is just a rookie and let Jeremy Maclin go. So the wide receivers are worse than last season. Running back is improved with their depth, adding Ryan Matthews and DeMarco Murray. Murray is a much better fit with Chip Kelly because he hits the hole much better than McCoy does. McCoy is an exceptional talent, but too many times last year he decided to try to make a big play instead of hitting the hole. With the quarterback position aside, the offense has gotten worse. But the Eagles biggest asset is Chip Kelly. With average quarterback talent the last two seasons, Chip Kelly has shown that his offense is lethal regardless. I still expect it to be among the top five this season.
Withy all of these changes are the Eagles a playoff team? As of right now, it is the Cowboys division. Their offensive line is the best in the game and they have better talent on offense. The eagles route will have to be through the wild card. getting into the wild card could be a tall order with teams like the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals who are in divisions with great teams. All I know is that if the Eagles don’t make the playoffs, it will be a long winter in Philadelphia.