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Super Bowl Boom or Bust: Philadelphia Eagles

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Who had a more interesting off-season than the Philadelphia Eagles?

We all know about Chip Kelly trading Nick Foles for Sam Bradford and how the organization sent LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills, with his replacement being the reigning rushing leader, DeMarco Murray.

The transactions people tend to overlook are the ones within the coaching staff and front office. As the Eagles gear up for the 2015 campaign, there are multiple of different coaches the players will have to get accustom to.

Justin Peelle is the new tight ends coach, Cory Undlin is the defensive backs coach, while Ryan Day is coaching up the quarterbacks.

As far as the front office goes, Howie Roseman has been promoted to Executive Vice President of Football Operations and Ed Marynowitz was named Vice President of player personnel.

Considering the amount of change within this organization, is it feasible to believe they could make a Super Bowl run this upcoming season?

Obviously, the answer to this question won’t truly be answered until this winter, but this is the off-season, where all we do is make projections on what we think will happen.

With uncertainty, comes negativity.

Most believe Chip Kelly’s shuffling of the roster at key spots will backfire in his face, but there is a chance that his madness could end up looking genius at the end of the day.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie believes in Kelly’s vision.

“He’s bright. He’s hardworking. He’s obsessed with football. It doesn’t matter to him, the public perception of a trade. He’s all about making us better—and that’s what you want in a coach,” Lurie said.

Even Pete Carroll, who’s led the Seattle Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls has confidence in Chip.

“I think the people in Philadelphia should be very excited about the changes that are coming. Maybe they can’t see it — the vision is not clear to them.  Chip knows what he’s doing.  It’s going to be interesting to see.”

However, in order for Kelly’s vision to come to fruition, Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez must stay healthy and their defense has to make major strides.

“New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay — [Tom] Brady, [Ben] Roethlisberger, [Aaron] Rodgers. It all starts with the quarterback,” Kelly said. And then you have to build the roster around that. And we’re trying to, and we think Sam’s got potential, we think Mark [Sanchez has] potential.”

Yes, while it’s unlikely, there’s a chance Sanchez could be the starter this fall.

“Everybody’s in competition,” Kelly said, “and the best players play.”

Despite having inconsistent play at quarterback a year ago, the unit was able to finish 3rd in points per game (29.6) and 5th in passing yards a game (272.2).

With Jeremy Maclin gone, most believe second year receiver Jordan Matthews will instantly turn into the number one option, but Matthews doesn’t see it like that.

“People ask me about being the No. 1 wide receiver; Forget it. I want us to be a receiving corps,” Matthews said. “That’s what I want it to be. I don’t think one ‘No. 1 wide receiver’ was in the Super Bowl this year, but they’re two Super Bowl-winning teams that have receiving corps that work their butts off, that block in the run game, that catch the ball when they have to. Whatever public perception about what they think we should look like or what they think we need, if we go out there and put a product on the field that wins games, then we can change all perceptions.”

It’s pretty hard to expect Matthews to single-handedly replace Maclin’s production, so expect it to be done by committee, with guys like rookie Nelson Agholor, Riley Cooper, Miles Austin, Brent Celek and etc.

One great luxury Bradford or Sanchez will have at their disposal is the combination of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews at running back.

As mentioned before, Murray led the league in rushing last year, as he rushed for 1,845 yards on a 4.7 yards per carry average. Murray is also coming off his best year as a pass catcher, as he snatched down 57 balls for 416 yards.

With Murray’s flexibility as a back, he should fit in seamlessly under Kelly’s dynamic offense. And if Bradford ends up winning the starting quarterback position, he and Murray are used to running a fast paced offense together dating back to their Oklahoma days.

It’s clear to see Kelly’s plan on the offensive side of the ball, but what about defensively?

The unit ranked 28th in total defense just a year ago, allowing 25 points per game.

With that being said, Philly’s front seven was one of the best in the league. In 2014, they finished second in sacks (49) and first in both forced fumbles (26) and fumble recoveries (16).

The secondary is where Philly needs to see major improvement, as they ranked 31st in pass defense this past season.

To address their secondary concerns, Philly picked up Byron Maxwell from the Seahawks and traded up to select rookie Eric Rowe in the second round of the NFL draft. Both of these guys are big and will bring some much needed toughness to Philly’s secondary.

Maxwell feels Philly is a good place for him.

“Their style of defense is very similar to what we play in Seattle. Lot of man-press, cover 3. They allow their corners to play and get physical. Their scheme definitely fits me.”

All things considered, Maxwell feels his time in Seattle will pay huge dividends in Philly.

“Experience. Because I’ve been there before. Knowing what it’s like if we go that far. Because we’re gonna go that far this year—meaning the playoffs and the Super Bowl. We’re gonna go that far. Hopefully that experience I already had, I can help them.”

In a perfect world, Kelly wants his offense to put up 30 or more points on Sunday’s, which means his defense doesn’t have to win games, they just need to be able to get the occasional break of serve.

It’s impossible to really foresee what will happen in Philly this upcoming season, but one thing is for sure, fans all over the country will be keeping a close eye on Chip Kelly and Philadelphia.

We’ll either be calling Kelly a genius or a fool.

Only time will tell.

 


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.