Heading into the 2014 offseason, the emphasis on improving the Eagles comes through change. A number of current players will be cut. Then, the Eagles have the chance to add veteran players to fill roster holes in free agency. Even more young talent can be added through the 2014 NFL draft. But one of the underrated aspects doesn't require change at all. Instead, it's just the opposite. Continuity is a huge plus for the Eagles as they prepare to enter the second year of the Chip Kelly era.
Last year at this time, Kelly had been the Eagles head coach for not even an entire month. He had a lot of things to do and not a lot of time to do it: assemble a coaching staff, make some personnel decisions, etc. And that's not to mention the personal side of things such as getting adjusted to living in a brand new city, finding a place to live, and all of that. Now, Kelly is settled in and ready to attack the offseason alongside Eagles GM Howie Roseman.
Schematically, the Eagles already know what they plan to run and how it will work. Last year there were talks of the Eagles running a 4-3 under. That never materialized. The Eagles will run a 3-4 defense and the players will already be comfortable with it.
On offense, Nick Foles will have a full offseason knowing he's likely going to be the starter as long as he doesn't fall apart in training camp and preseason. The players will be used to the high pace tempo and know exactly what's expected of them.
Continuity coincidences with player progression. It's easy to focus on who the Eagles should add. But it's just as important to hope the talent in place makes the next step. For example, Zach Ertz could go from putting up a good year for a rookie tight end to being one of the best tight ends in the league. Player development will go a long way.
One of the concerns heading into Kelly's second year is the fact that opposing teams now have a full offseason to study the Eagles success in 2013 and find a way to counter it. At the same time, Kelly will also have the offseason to adjust. Besides, "figuring out" Kelly schematically can only go so far. So much of the game comes down to execution. DeSean Jackson will still be faster than anyone. LeSean McCoy will still have elite talent like no other running back in the NFL. The right mixture of coaching and talent still won't be easy to stop.
The Eagles will certainly be active this offseason. They have a number of holes to fill and ample opportunities to address those needs. But while the additions the Eagles make this offseason will be important, so will the advantage of continuity carrying over.
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