2014: Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley
2013: Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley
Michael Vick had a great summer last season and got off to a good start before getting hurt in Week 5. Nick Foles took over and, well, the rest was history: 27 touchdowns, 2 interceptions. Foles is now the starter and he's looking to prove he can maintain his impressive level of play from 2013. Mark Sanchez looks like a top backup quarterback should Foles majorly struggle or get hurt. Matt Barkley hasn't been overly impressive but you could probably do worse at third string QB.
2014: LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Chris Polk
2013: LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk
LeSean McCoy is still 26. Then again, he had a lot of touches last season. Darren Sproles is 31 but he's a proven upgrade on Bryce Brown, especially as a pass-catcher. Chris Polk is a big question mark due to his inability to stay healthy in the summer.
2014: Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Brad Smith, Josh Huff, Jeff Maehl
2013: DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson, Jason Avant, Jeff Maehl
Losing DeSean Jackson was obviously a big loss. The return of Jeremy Maclin might be able to negate Jackson's absence but that's not quite a sure thing yet. Riley Cooper showed he's capable of producing more than people expected but he's not quite a special talent. Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff are unproven rookies with potential. Brad Smith is a versatile special teams contributor and Jeff Maehl is what he is. I like Smith and Matthews over Avant and Johnson but the loss of Jackson is what weighs most here.
2014: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Trey Burton
2013: Brent Celek, James Casey, Zach Ertz, Emil Igwenagu
Zach Ertz is poised to break out and Celek is coming off a career year in yards per catch. James Casey hasn't turned out what to be what fans expected of him but he's a good special teams contributor. I doubt the Eagles will keep four tight ends active but Trey Burton is a lot more appealing than Igwenagu.
2014: Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Allen Barbre, [Lane Johnson], Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly, David Molk
2013: Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Matt Tobin, Allen Barbre, Dennis Kelly, Julian Vandervelde
Since we're comparing opening day rosters, I have to say the Eagles are worse with Allen Barbre starting instead of the four-game suspended Lane Johnson. There's also the fact that a number of the key players up front are older and will begin to decline sooner rather than later. With that said, I still expect the Eagles offensive line to be very good until those signs of decline appear. The 2014 depth is also better than last year. David Molk has looked way more capable than Julian Vandervelde ever did as a backup center. Matt Tobin might be a future starter and both Dennis Kelly and Andrew Gardner have played well.
2014: Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Brandon Bair, Beau Allen, Taylor Hart
2013: Cedric Thornton, Isaac Sopoaga, Fletcher Cox, Clifton Geathers, Bennie Logan, Vinny Curry, Damion Square
Cedric Thornton is a consistently good run-stopper. Fletcher Cox is only 23 and I explained earlier in the offseason why I can see him taking a leap forward. The combination of Bennie Logan and Beau Allen is a huge upgrade over Isaac Sopoaga. The team's former veteran nose tackle was so ineffective for Philadelphia. Vinny Curry might see more playing time this year and Brandon Bair appears to be an upgrade on Clifton Geathers, who was really just a big body. Bair might end up being the same but at least he's flashed unlike Geathers. Fifth round rookie Taylor Hart will probably spend most of the season as a game-day inactive.
2014: Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Bryan Braman, Marcus Smith II, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Casey Matthews
2013: Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Casey Matthews, Jake Knott
The key starters are still the same: Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, DeMeco Ryans, and Mychal Kendricks. Kendricks is the only player whom I can see improving. Ryans and Cole are both veteran players who are wearing down. Barwin is a good starter and important to the defense. Perhaps this position could improve with more playing time for Brandon Graham. The Eagles' increased use of a dime package (4 cornerbacks) could also mean less playing time for Ryans.
2014: Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin(g), Nolan Carroll II, Jaylen Watkins
2013: Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin(g), Jordan Poyer, Shaun Prater, Brandon Hughes
The starters are likely the same but the depth definitely better. I wouldn't be surprised if Nolan Carroll II took over Fletcher's starting point at some time this season. If not, he's way better depth than the likes of what the Eagles had last year.
2014: Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Chris Maragos
2013: Patrick Chung, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson
Malcolm Jenkins is WAY better than Patrick Chung. Then again, almost anyone was. Everything else is mostly unchanged. It's a little disappointing that Earl Wolff didn't challenge Nate Allen harder for a starting job but then again Allen has played well.
2014: Cody Parkey, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos
2013: Alex Henery, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos
I know Alex Henery was the worst and I know the Eagles absolutely made the right decision to move on from him by keeping Cody Parkey. But until Parkey actually proves he's a solution to the Eagles kicker problem, I'm not going to assume he's automatically better. He has the potential to be better, but let's see it first.
Special Teams Coverage
I'm bullish on this group, which probably makes me the only person on the planet bullish about special teams coverage units. With additions of Brad Smith, Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman, Nolan Carroll and the return of Brandon Boykin, James Casey, Chris Polk, Casey Matthews (!), and Najee Goode, I expect the Eagles to have a good ST coverage unit. Let's also not forget that Donnie Jones is good at pinning the ball in the opponent's 20. And while Parkey is unproven, there's enough evidence to suggest he could actually be good at kickoffs.
I have the Eagles better in 5 of these areas, 3 as the same, and 2 worse. The biggest weakness on offense is wide receiver, the biggest weakness on defense is the pass rush, and the biggest weakness on special teams is the kicker.
The Eagles made several additions in the offseason but most of the starters are regularly intact. The team has preached that continuity will be key heading into 2014. We'll see if they were right.
What say you?