By Michael P. Quinn
Cold Hard Football Facts Eagles Specialist (@PJbleedsgreen)
After going 4-12 last year, the future seemed long and dark for the Philadelphia Eagles. They kicked their 14-year head coach to the curb, along with his entire staff.
They finished 29th in scoring during that year (280 total points), so the team was forced to bring in an offensive guru. Chip Kelly has proved he's just that.
After only his first season, Kelly's team finished with 442 points, averaging nearly 28 points per game. Despite all the hoopla, he's had all the help in the world. Ex-Arizona QB Nick Foles finished the year with 27 touchdowns against only 2 interceptions, and manged a touchdown every 8.1 pass completions. For comparison, Peyton Manning also averages a touchdown every 8.1 pass completions.
Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy finished his year off in stellar fashion as well. He topped Wilbert Montgomery for most rushing yards in franchise history (1,607) as well as most yards from scrimmage. Not to be outdone, DeSean Jackson also set a personal best this year, totaling 1,332 yards with 9 touchdowns. We can't leave out Jackson's counterpart, Riley Cooper, who's played amazing this year. In relief for Jeremy Maclin, who averages 863 yards and 6.5 touchdowns per year, Cooper notched 835 yards and 8 touchdowns.
In the end, Kelly took his offense from worst to first, and it shows if anywhere in the teams' situational stats. After 17 weeks, The Eagles ended the year averaging 15.1 yards per point scored. Compare that to the Houston Texans, who average 20.1 YPPS, and it's clear why stats like this can matter.
While the offense has been all the hype this year, the defense has certainly been an anchor for this team. After allowing 444 points last year (tied for 29th) the new look defense only allowed 382 this year. It's still more than most would like, but it was enough to propel the Eagles over the 32nd ranked Cowboys defense.
The amount of unsung heroes on the Eagles defense has been other worldly. Second year Eagle DeMeco Ryans finished the year with 127 tackles, the most by an Eagle in the 21st century. OLB Mychal Kendricks played lights out this year, also totaling over 100 tackles, three forced fumbles, and three interceptions. Speaking of interceptions, cornerback Brandon Boykin has been playing shutout coverage the last few weeks. He's a totaled six interceptions on the year, two of which were game-winners.
After holding the explosive Cowboys offense to only 22 points, the Eagles defense showed they're no joke. Being the worst situational team in football last year (on offense and defense), you'd likely be surprised to know the Eagles now rank in the top 10 when it comes to defensive efficiency. Averaging 16.5 YPPA (yards per point allowed), Kelly's Eagles rank above big-name defenses like the Bengals (16.0) and Ravens (15.2).
When it's all said and done, Chip Kelly has done one helluva job with what was the dumbest team in football only one year ago. He's kept his head cool despite some questionable calls, and gotten the best out of all of his players -- something ex-Eagles coach Andy Reid always struggled with.
I think it's safe to say, that after a long year full of ups and downs, all the Chip Kelly critics, including myself, can officially shut up -- The Philadelphia Eagles have won the NFC East.
The Eagles will host the New Orleans Saints this Saturday @ 8:10 ET on NBC.