The Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants all seem like pretty good bets to land in the realm around 9 wins yet remain very much in playoff contention down the stretch run. The NFC East’s wild-card is the Philadelphia Eagles, and since the glorious Summer of Dream Team, when are they not?
The Eagles have kicked Nnamdi Asomugha, DRC and Co. to the curb but still retain many of the talented pieces from that fatefully horrible year including Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham. This roster possesses immense talent for a squad that picked-top five in April, though personnel is only a secondary factor when considering the crazy upside/downside potential while trying to chart out Philly’s 2013 campaign.
Obviously, that elephant in the room — with leopard quick offensive tempo — is Oregon guru Chip Kelly. Reports out of Eagles camp this offseason is that Kelly’s squad could run some 80 plays a game; for reference the New England Patriots‘ have recently led the league with a blistering pace in the mid-70s. Also, no one can really trust Vick given his penchant for turnovers, erratic throwing and poor decisions (on the field), but Kelly is putting his up-tempo, QB-mobile, intricate read-option offense in the former No. 1 pick’s hands.
This a perfect marriage of scheme and skills, but you have to wonder if turnovers will eventually cripple this offense and leave away for Nick Foles or Matt Barkley. Like division foe Dallas, Philly is switching to a 3-4 and like in Dallas this didn’t make total sense given their personnel heading into the offseason.
Graham was coming on as the league’s next premiere pass-rusher as a 4-3 end and must now adjust to 3-4 edge rusher, while Philly spent the offseason adding mediocre 3-4 fits like Connor Barwin to challenge. In the midst of all these reasons for both excitement and terror, I’m taking the middle-ground with Philly’s offense producing in volume, and the defense letting them down
Still, an encouraging first year for Kelly’s scheme at the pro level.
Predicted Regular Season Record: 8-8 (3rd in NFC East)
Predicted Finish: Miss postseason