This season we saw plenty to be excited about for the future. Not many of us actually predicted the Eagles to win the division and to go to the playoffs, we figured that we'd have a fun time this year watching the new system and that either way we would end up with some hope for the future. That being said, myself along with the rest of you were disappointed with how the season ended for us, but this post is meant to put some things into perspective.
In this fan post I will share some of the positives and some of the things I feel the Eagles will need to address in this offseason (and even further in the future).
We may have found a franchise QB in Nick Foles...
There is no need to undervalue this, we have potentially found a franchise QB who can run the system that Chip has put into place. Granted nothing is for sure, we have seen time and time again where a young QB lights the NFL up one year then dips into mediocrity for the rest of their career. I'm not saying that this is what will happen with Nick Foles because I have a ton of faith in the young QB we have.
This season showed what type of QB Foles really is, he is a good decision maker who won't hurt the team with dumb turnovers and poor decisions, he doesn't get rattled and at times this year (see the Detroit game) his play was the deciding factor for an Eagles win. More times than not we saw Foles make plays that we haven't seen from an Eagles QB in a very long time.
The thing that really made me happy was that Foles took shots deep, and showed that his arm wasn't as weak as all the critics had made it out to be. Time and time again Foles would test defenses deep and time and time again he would make great throws on long balls. By seasons end you saw everybody speak of how great Foles long ball was. Another thing that Foles disproved was his lack of mobility, granted he's not a McNabb/Vick type of mobility but he showed enough to state a case that he is dangerous when on the move, both with his arm and his legs, I'm not saying he's elusive in the open field or that we are ever going to see a 40 yard run from Foles but we will see him pick up 5-6 yards when everything in the passing game breaks down. My favorite part about Foles is his ability to work the pocket, he moves well in it and will make the right decision once he has bought the time he has needed.
Foles looks the part of a franchise QB, and for now just looking the part is good enough for a new Era for the Eagles. We will have to see if he can continue with the type of production he had this season because if he does we will be a very dangerous team for many years.
We build a very strong run game...
Chip Kelly did something we haven't seen since before Andy took over. He ran the ball, he ran it when his team was down, he ran it when we were up, he made it a point to everybody that the Eagles would run the ball just as well as they throw it. Chip's running game had a coming out party when the Eagles ran all over a Detroit team that was one of the best in the League against the run, this showed that the Eagles offense wasn't one dimensional and that the Eagles will attack you however they please.
Moving forward I expect the Eagles to continue running the ball like they did this season because it was fun to watch, I also feel like the running game could get a lot better in the coming seasons because Chip will find new ways to attack NFL defenses after his first season as HC for the Eagles.
The Defensive Front 7...
I'll go on record saying this right now, the Eagles have one of the youngest and talented front 7's in football and with experience I think we will see them round into one of the best in football very quickly. The starting defensive line are all below 25 years old, we have a young playmaking LB in Kendricks and an OLB who saved our asses on defense plenty of times this season in Barwin. The only two question marks on our front 7 would be the other OLB spot held by Trent Cole and Demeco Ryans.
The Eagles Defensive line lead by Cox, Logan and Thornton proved that they were not to be messed with, they played very well this season and showed that if they stay together for a few more years we will have something very special. I personally like how each player is very good at one particular thing (Cox pass rush, Thorntons run stopping and Logans ability to collapse a pocket) yet there aren't really any holes in their games. They are well rounded and can do everything well yet they have that 1 thing they thrive at and they compliment each other so well. Moving forward I'd like to see them refine their games and become the most menacing 3 man front in football.
At Outside LB I feel like we have a keeper in Barwin, the guy was invaluable this season and without him I don't think our defense is worth a damn at this point. Barwin is a player, and he's here for a while longer. The other OLB position is a bit of a question mark, do we keep Cole, do we trade/cut him and supplant him with Brandon Graham, or do we go out there and draft/sign a young OLB who fits what we need perfectly and just deal with the growing pains? I do feel like we should bring back Cole, I do feel like Graham wasn't given enough of a chance and I do feel like the Eagles should go get a young guy and have him learn behind Cole and Barwin.
Now we get to our Inside LB's. I feel like we have one of the better tandems at ILB in the NFL. Kendricks is the athletic playmaker and Ryans is the vet who makes the entire Defense run. Kendricks is here to stay and he more and more looks like a Ryans type player (in regards to how he's diagnosing plays and making them) however I don't think it'd be smart to just roll into next season and beyond with just Ryans. What I mean by that is that the Eagles should start looking for a replacement for Ryans to groom for a season or two because we are going to need a guy sooner or later.
What I feel needs to be addressed moving forward...
First off our OL was dominant this season, they played mean, they were great in the run game and borderline great in the passing game. However I feel like it would be better for the Eagles to start looking to the future with this group because outside of Kelce and Lane Johnson our OL is made up of a bunch of 30+'s and low ceiling backups. I feel like it would be smart for Chip Kelly and Roseman to go ahead and start bring guys to eventually take over both OG spots and RT (once we move Lane over to LT) so that we can get them acclimated to the system and the experience they need so we don't end up like the Giants in a few years.
I also feel like outside of Earl Wolfe getting a shot to prove his worth that nothing in the Secondary should be guaranteed. Fletcher was solid when healthy but often times unspectacular, Williams was great at times then horrible at others but by far our best CB this season, Nate Allen played very well at times but often slipped back into his old habits and hurt us and the rest of the guys were just worthless. (I'll have more on Boykin, he's not included in this statement). I think the Eagles should look to upgrade both CB spots and add a solid Safety to work with Wolfe, while also getting another safety as a contingency for Wolfe. I will say that if our secondary wasn't so atrocious for most of the year the Eagles would've likely beaten the Saints and would've definitely won a lot more games this season.
Now onto Boykin. He is great. There is no other way to put it. That guy was the best DB we had this season. Now I know I said that Williams was our best CB, I'm talking about on the outside, we barely saw Boykin on the outside so I pulled him out of that race… Now what I think the Eagles need to do is decide whether they're leaving Boykin strictly in the slot or if they're going to allow him to compete for a job on the outside, either way I don't think he's going to be anything less than stellar for us in the coming years.