By Matt Kelley @fantasy_mansion on March 9, 2014
The Philadelphia Eagles were a long shot to make the Super Bowl last year with 30/1 odds. In fact, no team with longer odds made the playoffs in 2013. This year, those odds will drop closer to 10/1 and few teams will have higher expectations. From the Eagles' sports science program and Chip Kelly's uptempo offense, to the ascendance of Nick Foles, there are good reasons for these lofty expectations.
By locking up both Jason Kelce, Jason Peters and Riley Cooper before the start of free agency, the Eagles ensured that both their top-rated offensive line and underrated receiving corps will remain intact heading into the 2014 season. Keeping all of last season’s offensive pieces together will provide a foundation for the continued improvement of young playmakers such as Nick Foles, Zach Ertz and Bryce Brown.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman was busy last week. The team handed out four high-profile contract extensions, all on offense. Most noteworthy was Riley Cooper‘s million contract extension. Locking up Cooper was a savvy move by Roseman, but re-signing Jeremy Maclin to a one-year "prove-it" deal was a coup. Maclin has been the Eagles’ most consistent pass catcher. He offers separation and ball skills that Cooper cannot match.
While the Eagles' defense ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in 2013, a handful of young defensive players improved as the season went along. Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Boykin make up a core group of young playmakers that the team can build on via the NFL Draft and free agency heading into 2014.
In the 10 games that Nick Foles started in 2013, he posted a higher passer rating than Peyton Manning, and threw touchdowns at a pace that would have exceeded Manning's single season record. With a full offseason to grow and learn under Chip Kelly as the undisputed starting quarterback, Foles is on an MVP trajectory heading into 2014.
Upon arriving in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly implemented a groundbreaking sports science program that featured a unique approach to player performance assessment and body maintenance. The results last season were extraordinary as most of the Eagles' key players were able to stay healthy, and many exceeded all on-field performance expectations.
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