Football Nation Preview: The 2013 Philadephia Eagles
2012 Record: 4-12
Watching Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie lollygag behind receivers, Nate Allen blow assignments, and Kurt Coleman go for the knockout shoulder block instead of a wrap-up tackle.
Those were the "highlights" of the Eagles' secondary in 2012.
Philadelphia gave up 32 touchdown passes last season, the most in the league.
They also posted a pathetic 8 interceptions, after recording 4 in their opening game vs. Cleveland. In fact, their seventh pick was recorded on October 14. They wouldn't get their eighth until December 23.
Their 30 sacks dropped considerably from the 50 they had in 2011, and curmudgeonly Wide 9 guru Jim Washburn ended up fired in early December. Jason Babin and Trent Cole had a respective 18 and 11 sacks in 2011, but just 5.5 and 3 in 2012.
Between a banged-up Michael Vick making poor decisions behind an injury-laden offensive line, and rookie Nick Foles enduring a trial-by-fire behind that same broken shield, there were bound to be plenty of cough-ups by the Eagles offense.
In addition to the 48 combined sacks that Vick and Foles took, the Eagles turned the ball over 37 times: 15 interceptions, and a horrific 22 lost fumbles. The team fumbled a total of 37 times; 19 of which came from Vick and Foles.
The offensive line was indeed ravaged. Perennial Pro Bowler Jason Peters was lost in the spring with a ruptured Achilles tendon, Jason Kelce went down in Week 2 with a torn ACL, and veteran Todd Herremans broke his foot in November.
2013 Projected Wins: 6.5
Top 3 Rookies
-Lane Johnson, OT (1/4): Mobile pass blocker with quick feet will solidify the right side of the line, moving Herremans to right guard, and displacing 2011 first round bust Danny Watkins.
-Zach Ertz, TE (2/35): Natural slot receiver is prone to making circus catches, and is known to be a complete team player with versatility valued by a Chip Kelly-run offense.
-Bennie Logan, DT (3/67): Has the strength to bully guards and centers, but instinctively relies more on that raw power than acquired counter-punches to try and break blocks.
For the most part, Chip Kelly seemed content with the offensive pieces he already had. There were some complimentary moves, like signing James Casey (to bolster a three-headed tight end attack with Ertz and starter Brent Celek) and drafting Matt Barkley, but he already has the multi-use dust kickers in LeSean McCoy in DeSean Jackson that keep his offenses going.
It was the defense that needed the overhaul, and what an overhaul it is. With Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie gone, corners Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher join the fold, along with possible sleeper seventh round pick Jordan Poyer. The safeties get an upgrade in veterans Patrick Chung, and the injury-prone Kenny Phillips.
Aiding the defensive turnover are breakout linebacker Connor Barwin, who thrived in Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense in Houston. Speaking of 3-4, the nose of the Eagles' defensive line looks to be former 49er Isaac Sopoaga.
Potential Starting Lineup
QB - Michael Vick
RB - LeSean McCoy
WR - DeSean Jackson
WR - Jeremy Maclin
TE - Brent Celek
TE - James Casey
LT - Jason Peters
LG - Evan Mathis
C - Jason Kelce
RG - Todd Herremans
RT - Lane Johnson
DE - Cedric Thornton
NT - Isaac Sopoaga
DE - Fletcher Cox
OLB - Connor Barwin
ILB - Mychal Kendricks
ILB - DeMeco Ryans
OLB - Trent Cole
CB - Cary Williams
CB - Bradley Fletcher
FS - Kenny Phillips
SS - Patrick Chung
K - Alex Henery
P - Donnie Jones
LS - Jon Dorenbos